The Business Software Advisor
You ask the questions, and our resident software guru shares her wisdom.
This week’s question: My company’s business travel expenses are out of control. What can I do to reduce costs?
A: These days, travel isn’t cheap. Facing the climbing costs of sending employees out into the field, companies are tightening the reigns, placing restrictions on all business activities that impact travel budgets. Yet, travel is a necessity in today’s dynamic marketplace, and severe restrictions can hinder critical business operations.
What’s the solution? Many companies are finding that Web conferencing is the answer. According to a market study done in April by Scottsdale-based In-Stat, about 20 percent of U.S. businesses use Web conferencing to some extent, and 13 percent plan to add it in 2008. Small and medium-sized businesses are especially gravitating towards the new technology: Frost & Sullivan, a leading research firm, reports that 64% of SMB’s use Web conferencing regularly in their business.
Web conferencing software allows sales reps to interact with existing and potential customers in much the same way that they could during a face-to-face meeting, while avoiding expenses that include airfare and hotel. Marketing teams can host lead-generating events without the space rental, food, and setup costs. Virtual trainings and internal meetings are also far more cost-effective with the use of Web conferencing technologies.
Robust features and functionality of today’s Web conferencing software solutions facilitate the same kind of open communication and collaboration that takes place during face-to-face interactions. Session leaders can give lecture-style presentations complete with illustrative slides that can be edited as the facilitator is speaking. Live video can be used to enhance session content by employing webcams. Many Web conferencing software providers offer teleconferencing services, some providing VOIP capabilities, so participants can converse directly. Sessions can be recorded and played back. And virtual whiteboards, chats, surveys, and desktop sharing can be used to engage participants in the discussion.