Web Conferencing Comparison: 10-Point Buyer's ChecklistWeb Conferencing Comparison: 10-Point Buyer's Checklist

If you have spent any time at all researching Web conferencing systems, you are likely left with two impressions that go something like this:

a. "There are a lot of providers to choose from and it is hard to know where to start looking or which features I may need."

b. "These systems seem to be sold under multiple different product categories, such as web meetings, online meetings, web conferencing, webinars, online training, video conferencing, etc. I'm not sure whether I am even looking in all the right places to find the right solutions to compare."

When shopping for a new Web conferencing system, conducting a Web conferencing comparison is essential to make sure you are getting the right system to meet your needs. What will help is a list of the primary features that are included as a part of most of the systems you will come across. By understanding what is potentially available, you can get a better idea of the type of system you should be comparing.

Here is a 10-point buyer's checklist to help you make sure you are consider the right conferencing solutions to meet your needs:

1. Desktop sharing:
This feature allows the meeting organizer to show his or her computer screen to the meeting attendees located remotely. In many systems, there are two related features available: the ability to switch presenters so that everyone is viewing one of the other attendee's (other than the organizer) screens, and the ability for remotely-located attendees to actually take control of the presenter's desktop.

2. Remote desktop control:
In addition to the simple remote desktop sharing and control features mentioned above, there is another level of remote desktop control that is utilized to carry out longer-duration, more detailed elements of the remote computer. These systems are ideal for remote IT support applications, for example.

3. Polling & voting:
In the case of some online conferencing and meeting situations, the presenter requires the ability to gather feedback from the attendees in a way that can be counted and even statistically analyzed at a later point in time. For this, attendee polling and voting features are helpful.

4. VoIP:
Some meeting systems rely on a regular landline (or mobile phone-based) phone call to be placed in order to allow for the verbal/voice-based communications element to occur. Meanwhile, other systems offer a VoIP (voice over IP) option that leverages the Internet to transmit voice, as well as pictures, applications and text.

5. Application sharing:
When you have the need to show presentations or perform work collaboration using CAD or other software remotely, you may want to consider application sharing features in a Web conferencing system.

6. Rich media streaming:
Need to present rich-media like video to prospects, customers, or colleagues located remotely? Look into whether the solution has rich media streaming capabilities. Some Web conferencing solutions are calibrated specifically for this.

7. Testing and scoring:
If you have the need to conduct e-learning and other at-a-distance education with your system, you may want an e-learning system that allows you to test and score attendees after each session.

8. Whiteboard:
A whiteboard functions much in the way you might imagine; it is much like a physical whiteboard that you might see in a boardroom or a classroom.

9. Echo cancellation:
Some of the more advanced video conferencing solutions offer features such as echo cancellation. This is a set of sophisticated electronics that reduces unwanted echoes and feedback that can creep in during a meeting.

10. Multi-point conferencing:
If you anticipate the need to hold Web conferences with more than 2 locations at once, consider multi-point conferencing. This is simply a way to view multiple remote attendees on your screen at once.
Review this 10-point Web conferencing buyer's checklist as you consider which system might be right for you.
by Jed Jones
References and Bibliography
Compare secure web video conferencing services at: Secure Video Conferencing Advisor.
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