Companies are increasingly turning to collaboration solutions, like web conferencing, to expand collective knowledge, speed up business processes and give their business a competitive edge through better collaboration. And while you may be eager to get an enterprise-wide solution up and running quickly, you should stop to consider the consequences of buying web conferencing software that doesn’t meet your company’s expectations or business needs.
Meetings run late because of complicated processes to join, clients get frustrated with poor audio and video quality, and employees have difficulty conducting meetings because of a complex interface. In the end, a bad buy can cost you time and money if you have to restart with another software solution.
We’ve outlined a number of considerations – from changing user workstyles and preferences to IT, infrastructure and support requirements – that you should mull over before selecting a provider.
Today’s global workforce requires collaboration flexibility. Gone are the days when all employees are located in a single brick-and-mortar office. Employees, partners and customers alike are dispersed around the world and they require a tool that allows them to collaborate anywhere, any time and on any device. Your web conferencing solution must have mobile support for users choosing to telecommute, bundles that fit the needs of every line of business and browser-based web conferencing to control what users download.
Additionally, in order to really expand your company’s global reach, you’ll need web conferencing that makes it easy to communicate around the world. Ask providers about localized software, native language support and local dial-in numbers and audio bridges. Look for these key features that help make international web conferencing simple and secure from any location.
Complex infrastructures demand simplicity. When identifying your enterprise web conferencing needs, you need to identify the features and qualities that will yield the most seamless solution for your complex enterprise infrastructure. You need cloud solutions that lighten bandwidth usage and seamless integrations with other enterprise communications applications.
IT now operates bimodal. Your enterprise IT team must balance two initiatives now – progressing the enterprise towards innovation and maintaining operational excellence. Your web conferencing solution must constantly evolve to keep up with the changing pace of collaboration, as well as offer enterprise-class security, redundancy and dependable audio.
Not all web conferencing solutions are created equal. Before you sign up for a free conferencing service, you should first ask yourself (and that provider) what the tradeoff will be. When audio is outsourced to third-party vendors to cut costs, quality and consistency are often sacrificed, and many free web conferencing providers use this process. It’s critical that you ask specifically about outsourcing services so you can make a better assessment of what the audio quality will be like. After all, the last thing you need during your big presentation or meeting is a dropped call.
Support can be just as important as the service. No matter how smart and intuitive a web conferencing tool may be, you’re bound to run into an error or need some troubleshooting advice. In addition to asking if customer support is available, ask how many ways you can contact an expert for support. When you’re running an online meeting, you may want phone support. If you’re on your tablet, you may want real-time chat. You may even want to post a question from your smartphone through email or in an online customer forum. In this era of always-on connectivity, you want your customer support experience to be as flexible and adaptive as your interconnected life.
Remember, when you’re pinpointing the best solution, you’re assessing the provider as well as the product. The web conferencing provider you choose should have the proven experience and expertise you need to integrate web conferencing into complicated infrastructures, deploy solutions on a global scale and offer custom solutions to your unique challenges.
For more tips on purchasing web conferencing tools, download The Buyer’s Guide to Web Conferencing.
This post originally appeared on CIO.com‘s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi.