Online Communication Options: Breaking it down to ensure success
The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees is on the rise, with employees spending 85% of their time collaborating with multiple teams of co-workers via meetings, email, conference calls or instant messaging, often across several time zones. In the past decade, it has seen a 50% increase. With 34% of business owners saying half of their workforce will be working remotely by 2020 it is necessary to ensure the best, most effective collaboration tools are being utilized to ensure meetings run smoothly and efficiently.
While many of the solutions on the market today make collaboration easy regardless of location, not all are appropriate for the same task. So how do you sift through the many options available today -- from web conferencing to webinars to webcasts to unified communications and more?
The decision of which tool to use depends on the purpose of your meeting. Who is your audience and what are you looking to accomplish? Are you looking to deliver personal demonstrations or sales proposals to a single client or prospect? Or are you looking to support a large-group or strategically important meeting and present your company to the world?
You need to find the right options that can easily sync with your existing technology infrastructures and provide executives, marketing teams and business leaders with an effective way to conduct online meetings and deliver high-impact messages with ease. Many solutions on the market require multiple downloads and complicated software to manage, making it cumbersome for users to navigate. Consider what will be less complicated for your audience.
How to Make a Clear Choice
If you can clearly articulate your goals, then you can look at webinar and web conferencing software and determine which tool is best suited to your needs. Research from Frost & Sullivan shows that two-thirds of companies use web conferencing on a regular basis for project collaboration, and that more and more are turning to the same solutions for critical internal and external events. However, the most significant difference between a webinar and web conference is scale. Web conferencing tools work well for most small-group meetings, yet large-scale virtual meetings with high-value targets need a webinar platform, and it will almost always deliver a better experience and a higher return on investment.
When it comes to generating high-quality leads, 73% of sales and marketing leaders say hosting webinars is one of the most effective ways to find success. Prior to webinar technology becoming as ubiquitous and reliable as it now is, large-scale employee meetings or training sessions required attendees to travel to a single location.
Webinars are often pre-planned and scheduled, with a start and end time and a clear agenda. They can make use of customized branding, promotion and marketing, and enable more than one presenter to present to participants, as well as audio and content-sharing capabilities, including live and recorded video. Hosts can record and play back the session for on-demand access, and make use of content syndication, management and distribution features. They can be moderated to give the session a structured feel and provide comprehensive analytics and reporting.
A growing number of organizations are now using webinars as a business-critical communications tool as a result of three key drivers:
- The increasing need for flexible working, spurred on by trends such as digital transformation, globalization and the consumerization of the workplace;
- The ubiquity of mobile, video and social technology - combined with advanced analytics - and its capabilities deliver measurable ROI; and
- Requirements to reduce costs and travel times associated with face-to-face meetings by making use of online event capabilities and the reach they provide.
Web conferencing is designed more for small group meetings that involve interactive behaviors (i.e. brainstorming, team building and developing new training content). They are not designed to effectively support hundreds or thousands of attendees. However, web conferencing does lend itself well to one-on-one meetings with high-value clients, to walk them through new market opportunities, industry shifts and updates to regulatory requirements. Web conferencing often involves real-time screen sharing with presentations or web-based content, allowing two-way communication between two or more participants. This facilitates collaboration using interactive tools that can include slide annotation and desktop sharing. Participants normally attend web conferences from their personal computer and increasingly, their mobile phones.
Regardless if you are in marketing, sales, corporate communications, investor relations or human resources, evaluate whether you are using the right platform for your audience, the task at hand and the desired outcome and ROI for both the short and long term.
Edited by Maurice Nagle