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Increase Efficiency With Web and Video Conferencing
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By Steven Peltier

Small business owners are faced with a special set of challenges and demands that donít generally concern the management at large Fortune 1000 companies. The challenge of operating a small business with a limited staff is a challenge in itself, so how can small companies grow their business, reach new markets and compete with companies twice their size without dramatically increasing the overhead cost of operations?

While technology is not a cure-all for every business pain, new advancements in the Internet, IP networks, PC hardware and software have elevated IP-based web and video conferencing technology to an integral part of the business communications mix previously dominated by the phone and email. Modern IP-based web conferencing solutions effectively combine a rich set of features, such as multiparty video and desktop/application sharing that enable collaboration and communication in real-time. The benefits to the bottom line are immense. Not only does web and video conferencing allow for better and more interactive communication, it can literally decrease business travel costs by as much as one-half by completely eliminating or reducing the need for lengthy trips that are made for recurring business meetings, sales presentations and training.

Web and video conferencing is comprised of various collaborative features that allow the conference hosts and conference attendees to hold multiparty sessions that include video and desktop and application sharing that allows the presenter to share presentations, documents, spread sheets, graphics and even other applications, such as CAD, as long as itís available on the presenterís computer. The integration of audio, or Voice over IP (VoIP) further decreases costs by eliminating long distance calling charges. Most web conferencing solutions are extremely easy to use, as simple as any Microsoft Office or email application, and require little or no training. There is no client software installation required. Once the web conferencing software is installed on a central server, all that is required is a standard Windows PC, web camera, high-speed Internet connection and any web browser. The conference attendee joins the conference with a simple mouse click on a conference link, which is usually sent in an email or instant message.

A recent research study done by Wainhouse Research (www.wainhouse.com) found that smaller companies report meeting online utilizing Web conferencing more than any other method Ė including in-person or audio-only meetings Ė to drive revenue or conduct business. In fact, 75 percent of SMB respondents believe the ability to involve/reach more people and save travel costs and time are major reasons to use web conferencing. In addition, 69 percent of survey respondents use web conferencing to enable new meetings that could not be held any other way due to cost constraints, timing and other issues.

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Steven Peltier is the CEO of WiredRed.
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