We’re moving fast toward wrapping up another year. Pretty soon the news media will be looking back at the top tech trends of 2012 and making predictions for 2013. (I’ll even have some of my own.). Among this year’s expectations for small business was strong demand for conferencing.

A Plantronics/Spiceworks survey of 250 small and midsize businesses conducted in September of last year, indicated that web conferencing deployments would grow from 13 percent to 38 percent over the course of this year; video conferencing from 18 to 27 percent.

Signs are that this growth will continue well into the new year and beyond.  BizTech cites J.D. Vaughn, a conferencing expert, forecasting that web, video and audio conferencing, which currently constitute market revenue of about $3.5 billion, will continue to grow reaching $20 billion by 2020. Factors driving this growth are:

  • Workers are becoming more remote so that face-to-face meetings are not only expensive; they are impractical.
  • Improvements and price reductions in video technology.
  • Mobile devices are now able to access conferencing systems – this means with a tablet, laptop, or smartphone and a headset anyone can participate in a conference from just about anywhere in the world.

Connect, communicate and collaborate

Collaboration is the lifeblood of business. With today’s new web and video conferencing technology small and mid-size business team members can collaborate wherever they are. They also can meet with a client remotely to brainstorm or work on a project.

With web conferencing, a conference organizer arranges the meeting and participants receive an email to join with a link to the conference. Solutions vary. Some require participants to install software on their own computers to participate; others are entirely web based. Some solutions let participants speak to one another through microphones or headsets that work with the computer. Still others let users join the audio portion of a conference via a separate audio/telephone bridge. Nowadays some also enable video interaction.

Whether a small business purchases a web conferencing solution as a standalone tool or as part of its Unified Communications (UC) solution (See: Small business is getting on board with unified communications) or uses a hosting service, web conferencing can support a range of capabilities.

  • View presentations
  • Share and edit documents
  • Transmit images
  • Share your desktop
  • Draw on a common white board
  • Many newer web conferencing apps support video as well

Web conferencing has historically been less expensive than video conferencing since there are no equipment costs. However today there are desktop and mobile video solutions with low monthly fees that make the technology affordable for small and midsize business.

Furthermore, as I advised in a previous post, integrating video conferencing into your UC solution eliminates the implementation challenges of the past when complex, self-contained systems required a dedicated room. Today’s UC video conferencing solutions both in the cloud and on premise have resolved the technology issues that previously resulted in poor quality voice and images.

Are you finding web and video conferencing are transforming the way you do business?