In a recent Twitter Tweetchat discussion hosted by @sbbuss, majority of the small businesses mentioned #GoToMeeting as their solution of choice for Web Conferencing and Collaboration.
The web conferencing software and services market is becoming highly competitive, lead by the presence of a few major brands and a plethora of small vendor. Web conferencing is an integral workplace application that is used for communications and collaboration.
Small businesses are primarily using hosted web conferencing services offered by service providers on a on-demand SaaS (Software as a Service) delivery model for a flexible licensing model based on pay-as-you-use fee (cost per user per minute) or fixed fee (cost per seat per month). Medium businesses use a mixture of these hosted and in some cases on-premise IP-PBX based web conferencing solutions.
Designed for the unique needs of SMB enterprises, leading web conferencing vendors are striving for ease-of-use, simplicity, efficient network performance and flexibility in their licensing and pricing models.
Key Drivers for Web Conferencing:
- Better support a global distributed workforce
- Save travel costs and participant time
- Support revenue generation activities
- Availability of hosted service with pay-as-you-go
- Ability to do impromptu meetings
- Improve employee collaboration & productivity
- Improve organizations efficiency
- Better communication and collaboration between employees, customers, partners, suppliers
- Increased adoption of web conferencing for training
- Hosted solutions eliminate/ reduce need for client software
Vendors – The leading global web conferencing vendors based on number of customers/registered users are Cisco/#WebEx, Microsoft LiveMeeting, CitrixOnLine #GoToMeeting, and IBM #Sametime Unyte and Lotus SameTime.
In the small business segment, #CitrixOnline GoToMeeting has the largest share driven by the very visible and successful TV advertisement campaigns.
Several new web conferencing startups – like DimDim, Yugma – based on open source are promoting free hosted solutions with basic features for a small number of users (usually 10) and charging SMBs as the number of users increases or for a customer hosted version. The question is ‘Are SMBs jumping to the free bandwagon?’ There always will be the small businesses (mainly SoHo users) that are looking to use these vendors on an ad-hoc basis where communications are not mission critical. SMBs do not want a repeat of the internet bubble where all these types of ‘free stuff’ companies got wiped out.
Applications/Markets – This application is now used extensively horizontally across all small and mid-market companies. Sales, marketing (product announcements, partner recruitment, investor conferences), training (for distributed employees, partners, and customers), project management, and product development are the key application segments.
Vertical industries including financial services, technology, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, law, education, and professional services are among the top adopters of web conferencing solutions.