If your focus is sales or you work with clients around the country, you may be one of many solo entrepreneurs who are considering their Web conferencing options. Not having to make the trip from San Francisco to Pittsburgh to meet with a client could save you considerable time and money. But are Web conferencing options inexpensive enough to be worth considering?
The answer can be "Yes." While solo entrepreneurs and small businesses may not be able to afford some of the extensive offerings from Web hosting companies, less expensive small business Web conferencing software and services are available.
You don't need much to host a simple Web conference with only a few participants. If you have a computer with an Internet link, a Webcam, a phone or Voice over IP (VoIP) for real-time audio, and software to coordinate the meeting, you're set.
Let's take a closer look at several Web-hosted solutions that market to individuals or small businesses.
Adobe Acrobat Connect can provide you with an online personal meeting room for under $40 per month or $400 per year. The service includes unlimited online meetings any time with up to 15 participants. Features include screen sharing, whiteboard, chat, audio and video, as well as multiple levels of security. Unlike some services, this works with Mac OS X.
GotoMeeting.com, from Citrix Systems, allows you to organize and host unlimited online meetings with up to 15 participants for $50 per month or $460 per year. The cost includes meeting start-up from e-mail and instant messaging programs, screen sharing, screen drawing tools, chat, attendance reporting, application sharing and desktop meeting recording and playback, and advanced secure-communication architecture.
IBM offers a low-cost solution with Lotus Sametime Unyte Plus. It includes screen sharing, pointer and annotation, one-click session scheduling, remote assistance and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. Pricing ranges, depending the number of participants, from $30 per year for host and one viewer to $100 per year for host plus four viewer and $450 per year for host and up to 24 viewers.
New technology is providing new directions and more options for Web conferencing. Next, let's see what is ahead.