Web Conferencing for SMBs


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3 key considerations for IT teams at small to midsized firms.How data, security & support should influence platform decisions for tech decision makers.

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Web Conferencing for SMBs

  1. 1. 3 Web Conferencing for SMBs 3 Key Considerations for IT Teams at Small to Midsized Firms How Data, Security & Support Should Influence Platform Decisions for Tech Decision MakersPresented by Sponsored by R E P O R T
  2. 2. Web Conferencing For SMBs:3 Key Buying Considerations ForIT Decision MakersWeb conferencing over the past decade has grown There are a number of reasons for this trend. Travelfrom a niche market to a mission-critical business costs, combined with the growing prevalence oftool: According to a 2012 Frost & Sullivan study, 62% remote work and distributed, virtual workplaces,of companies now consider Web conferencing a “very make Web conferencing essential for collaborationimportant” business technology. 1 and business productivity. This is especially true for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with tight budgets and limited resources. Technology vendors have been quick to capitalize on the growing popularity of Web conferencing services of companies now within the SMB market: Currently, at least four dozen consider Web vendors offer Web conferencing tools. 2 These include conferencing a a large number of free or low-cost services that vary “very important” widely in terms of their functionality, security and business technology. customer support options.1 http://www.slideshare.net/FrostandSullivan/web-conferencing-stays-strong-in-a-down-market 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_conferencing#Software_and_service_providers Web Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 2
  3. 3. Web Conferencing:The SMB DilemmaThese Web conferencing providers, and the vast This paper will discuss how and why each of thesearray of services they provide, represent both an issues plays a role in the Web conferencing vendoropportunity and a dilemma for SMB information selection process, and it will also highlight specifictechnology organizations. features or capabilities in each area that distinguish best-in-class Web conferencing solutions.At first glance, many of them deliver significant valueby combining low cost (or no cost) services with Other factors than the ones discussed here will playadequate feature sets. In the long run, however, many a role in the selection of a Web conferencing vendor,SMBs discover that these services create long-term including platform support and the availabilitysecurity, reliability, management and support issues of specific features. Yet for SMB IT professionalsthat offset any short-term cost savings. As a result, weighing a solution’s long-term total cost ofthese businesses’ IT decision-makers must decide ownership, these three factors play a decisive rolewhether to migrate away from their current Web — especially given the inability of many providers toconferencing provider – and then decide how to select meet basic service standards in one or more ofa cost-effective alternative vendor. these areas.This white paper will look at three issues of particularconcern to SMB information technology professionalsweighing the pros and cons of a new or different Webconferencing solution:• Data and application security• Management and administration• Support, service and customer careWeb Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 3
  4. 4. Security: A Vital Concern For Physical security. Every cloud-basedSMB Technology Decision Makers service, including Web conferencing, depends upon its ability to protectMost SMB technology professionals agree that customer data against physical intrusionssecurity is a critical issue. In fact, according to a and possible disruptions due to accidents2010 Symantec study, SBMs rank data loss and cyberattacks as their most serious business risks. Today, or natural disasters. Key features toIT organizations spend an average of two-thirds of look for include the use of ISO 9001:2000their time on information protection, yet certified data centers; 24/7/365 staffingproblems persist: 42% of the companies surveyedhave lost confidential or proprietary information to and monitoring; multiple layers of physicala security breach, and 74% are concerned they will security; and the use of redundantexperience such losses in the future.3 power-grid connection points and backup systems.These are sobering statistics, and they emphasize afundamental truth: Every SMB technology purchasingdecision must consider the security impact of the Data security. Web conferencingproduct or service being purchased. users frequently upload confidentialWeb conferencing tools vary widely in terms of their documents, session recordings,security capabilities, and it is not always clear how presentations and other information thata particular provider deals with security issues. is subsequently stored on a provider’sTherefore, transparency is the first trait that defines servers. This data should be protecteda best-in-class Web conferencing solution – awillingness to explain to customers precisely what in transit by the use of appropriatemeasures are being taken to secure customers’ data. standards, such as SSL/HTTPS network encryption. In addition, data stored on aThe second trait that defines best-in-class Webconferencing security is a sophisticated, multi- provider’s servers should be protectedlayered approach to data security. This includes the using the strongest possible encryption,following capabilities: such as the AES-256 of the companies surveyed bit standard currently have lost confidential or 42% proprietary information to a security breach, and recommended by the U.S. National Security Agency. are concerned 74% they will experience such losses in the future.3 http://www.slideshare.net/symantec/2010-smb-information-protection-surveyWeb Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 4
  5. 5. Application security. The purpose of a Web Security management. As the followingconferencing solution is to share information; section of this paper will discuss, a best-in-class Web conferencing solution will support a rich setthe key is controlling where, when and with of management and administration features. Thesewhom this information is shared. A best-in-class capabilities extend to security; administrators shouldWeb conferencing solution accomplishes this in be able to disable features on a global or per-account basis in order to:several ways:• Using appropriate log in and authentication • Prevent users from uploading slides to a Web procedures, including unique user access codes, to conferencing session manage access to individual conference sessions; • Require users to delete slides when a• Assigning different levels of access based on a conference ends user’s role and the meeting organizer’s preferences (by, for example, limiting access to screen- or • Disable application sharing, desktop sharing and/ application-sharing features); or remote control of a desktop• Allowing meeting organizers to assign and revoke • Disable the ability to assign a co-presenter within access privileges on the fly as required for a a conference particular meeting or event;• Supporting the ability to disconnect individual On an individual basis, none of these capabilities will users, lock or unlock conferencing sessions, and ensure adequate security for a company’s data or control user listening/audio settings as necessary applications. Taken together, however, they give an to protect sensitive business discussions. SMB technology team the ability to implement a Web conferencing solution without sacrificing security or placing an organization’s proprietary data at risk. Web Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 5
  6. 6. Management And Administration:Lightening the Load on ITWeb conferencing management and administration More specifically, a best-in-class Web conferencingcovers a wide variety of capabilities intended to solution will offer the following management andsimplify an IT organization’s implementation and administrative features:support requirements. As with security, thesecapabilities represent a very real source of troubleand expense: According to Gartner, Inc., about 80% • Application integration. Users and ITof total IT costs occur after the initial purchase of a organizations alike benefit from Web conferencingproduct or service. 4 tools that integrate with other collaboration and business productivity tools. This is typicallyIn general terms, Web conferencing management done via “one click” meeting support from withinand administration is relevant to an IT organization applications such as Microsoft Outlook and for two reasons. First, the right set of management salesforce.com.capabilities empower users to do things they mightotherwise ask the IT department (or their co- • Event tracking and management. Users should beworkers) to do for them. Given the time and resource able to organize, manage and promote multipleconstraints SMB IT teams typically face, these meetings or events without having to ask their ITcapabilities have obvious advantages. organizations for additional tools or application support. This includes the ability to create andSecond, a Web conferencing service should provide deploy customized event registration forms;administration tools that allow an IT organization to send automated reminder email to participants;perform necessary tasks quickly, efficiently and with promote events via social media platforms; andminimal duplication of effort. They should also give IT integrate meeting data with marketing campaigndecision-makers an appropriate level of visibility into tracking tools.service usage, billing data and other key metrics. • Interactive content deployment and management. Users should be able to follow up meetings with surveys or email; or to edit, distribute and archive call recordings quickly and easily, without requesting assistance from the IT staff.4 http://www.networkalliance.com/your-advantage/understanding-technology-costsWeb Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 6
  7. 7. • Account-level control and administration. IT administrators, or a designated Web conferencing service admin, should be able to add, edit and/ or delete users from within a simple, Web-based 90 employees interface. This control should also extend to the creation and revocation or user access codes.• Comprehensive reporting and account management tools. A Web conferencing solution should allow IT staff to view and download detailed user information, invoicing and expense-reporting data, and real-time usage reports. of all SMBs employ fewer than The Human Factor: Customer five full-time IT employees. Service and Support End-user support is a familiar (and often troublesome) responsibility for IT organizations. Given the time and resources required to support endpoint devices and in-house applications, the last thing an IT department 80% needs is an additional support burden associated with Web conferencing technology. This is especially true for SMB IT teams, where resources may already be stretched to the breaking point. According to a 2009 SpiceWorks study, the average SMB supports 90 employees and nearly 160 endpoint devices – yet 80% of all SMBs employ fewer than five full-time IT employees. 5 5 http://sellingtobigcompanies.blogs.com/files/state-of-smb-it-august-2009.pdf Web Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 7
  8. 8. This makes it especially important for SMBs to work • Operator-assisted services. Most users, andwith cloud-based service providers, including Web most situations, do not require operator-assistedconferencing providers, with strong customer Web conferencing services. For business-support offerings. critical meetings, however, or for events with large numbers of attendees, professional helpOne might expect any cloud-based IT service provider should be available to manage calls, monitor callto be up to this challenge, given these firms’ reliance quality, provide on-the-spot technical support,on a recurring-revenue business model that makes it and perform other necessary tasks. A best-easy for unhappy customers to switch providers. In the in-class Web conferencing service will alsoWeb conferencing market, however, the proliferation provide access to optional services such as callof low-cost, no-cost and consumer-focused offerings transcriptions, closed captioning and assistance(a market where service and support expectations are with audience question-and-answer sessions.generally low) has turned customer support into a hit-or-miss affair. • Responsive customer support. Real-time or near-time (e.g. email) vendor support can makeFor SMBs seeking a more stable and supportive IT the difference between success and failure forenvironment, a Web conferencing solution should offer a Web conferencing investment. Inadequateseveral key service and support features: or unresponsive support will prompt users to turn to alternative support resources – formal support from in-house IT or informal support• Comprehensive — and free — training. High- from colleagues. Either way, a SMB pays the quality training resources have a major impact on price, in terms of lost productivity or wasted end-user productivity and on an IT organization’s IT resources. in-house service and support burden. A provider’s training resources should be readily available, • Robust self-service support resources. well-organized and comprehensive enough to cover Self-directed support, including FAQs and a wide variety of skill levels and usage scenarios. knowledge base articles, can provide an effective Needless to say, these training resources should first line of support for end users with common also be available free of charge, as part of a normal or easily resolved issues. When vendor self-help SMB subscription package. resources are inadequate, however, users will again turn to in-house IT or colleagues for support. Web Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 8
  9. 9. ConclusionThe Search for Long-Term ValueSMBs today recognize the value of Web conferencingtools: According to a 2012 SMB Group Study, 58% ofmidsized firms and 38% of small firms say they relyupon these types of online collaboration tools. Yet 58% and 38%the same companies are often searching for bettersolutions, as indicated by the fact that nearly half of the of midsized firms of small firmsrespondents to this study said they were “satisfied” or“very satisfied” with their current providers. 6 rely upon these types of online collaboration tools. These companies face two priorities: Establishing a clear set of criteria for selecting a new Web conferencing provider; and ensuring that their new provider delivers long-term business value. Using the three criteria described in this white paper, SMB IT groups can ensure that they are able to satisfy both priorities – and that they are able to provide end users with a secure, easy to manage and adequately supported Web conferencing solution.6 http://www.slideshare.net/smbgroup/2011-smb-collaboration-study-hlighlightWeb Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 9
  10. 10. About About ReadyTalk Hosting a webinar shouldn’t be rocket science. Audio and Web conferences aren’t brain surgery. And, customer care doesn’t include a system of beeps and prompts. It should be user friendly, reliable and supported by a team of professionals, which is exactly what we deliver. From small virtual meetings to large web events, ReadyTalk provides audio and Web conferencing services that are affordable and easy to use, so you can focus on the substance of the meeting, not the technology behind it. And, when you do call us with a question, afterwards we want you to hang up the phone and say, “Wow, that was good customer service” and tell someone else. ReadyTalk 1900 Sixteenth Street Floor 6 Denver, CO 80202 P: 800.843.9166 sales@readytalk.com About Demand Gen Report R E P O R T Demand Gen Report is a targeted e-media publication spotlighting the strategies and solutions that help companies better align their sales and marketing organizations, and ultimately, drive growth. A key component of the publication’s editorial coverage focuses on the sales and marketing automation tools that enable companies to better measure and manage their multi-channel demand generation efforts. Demand Gen Report 411 State Rt. 17 South Suite 410 Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604 P: 201.257.8528 info@demandgenreport.comWeb Conferencing For SMBs: 3 Key Considerations For IT Teams At Small To Midsized Firms 10