The time is right for video and web conferencing to take off. While online conferencing is still seen as a technological novelty by some people, more and more businesses of all sizes are finding it be the solution to doing business and communicating with prospects, clients, employees and branch offices in an era of rising transport costs. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are bringing web and video conferencing to a very wide audience.
1. Bandwidth speeds are increasing while prices for broadband web access are falling. Video and web conferencing are more effective when users have broadband access to the Internet. Prices for various broadband connections to the Internet (DSL, Cable, T1s) are falling and more and more homes and businesses are now connected by broadband rather than dial-up connections. Broadband penetration in the US among home users has reached 60% and, especially crucial for online conferencing, in the workplace broadband usage has passed 85%.
2. Web cameras are more powerful and less costly Video conferencing is aided by good images. Just as high speed connections to the Internet are needed to view the videos, improved cameras providing clear images are also important. The least expensive web cameras today cost as little as $10 and even sophisticated tripod-mounted cameras are reasonably priced, placing video conferencing within the reach of millions of users.
3. The price of oil and transportation is rising, and business travel is more costly. Rising energy prices means that businesses have to scrutinize their travel plans more closely. Video and web conferencing make it possible to hold meetings with staff in other cities without making expensive car or airplane journeys. In addition, some companies are also using web and video conferencing to meet new clients and provide service to existing clients. Improved video conferencing capabilities, combined with rising travel costs is a sure formula for online conferencing growth in the years ahead.
4. Businesses are improving productivity with online conferencing. The gains provided by online conferencing are more than just the money saved by not buying gasoline for a car or spending it on airfares. When you sit in your own office and hold an online conference with associates in distant cities, you can get back to your other work within seconds of the close of the online conference. The lost time out of office, associated with business trips, is an important “opportunity cost" that can be reduced by the creative use of web and video conferences.
5. The cost of web and video conferencing has come down greatly in the past year. Web and video conference services are now less costly than they were a few years ago and it is possible for a business to get a much higher return on their investment in online conferences. Monthly costs for some conferencing services are so low that even families and individuals can connect in informal web conferences. At the same time, for a reasonable price, businesses can even purchase their own internal video/web conferencing system and not depend on web conference services provided by an outside provider.
6. Schools and universities are holding online classes, exposing a whole new generation to the world of online conferencing. The surest way of spreading any new technology is to get young people “hooked" on it. And that is exactly what schools and universities are doing with web and video conferencing. By holding more online classes and conferences, young people are becoming comfortable with this way of communicating. As today’s students enter the business and professional world, they are certain to bring with them a taste for the convenience of online conferencing.
Add up all these factors and it is easy to see why web and video conferencing are approaching the level of mass acceptance. If you are not taking advantage of online conferencing today, there is a good chance that you will be tomorrow.
Dan Richmond is CEO and Co-founder of MegaMeeting.com. MegaMeeting provides Web Conferencing and Video Conferencing services for individuals, businesses & educational entities. For more information, or for a free live demonstration of Video & Web Conferencing technology, please visit http://www.MegaMeeting.com