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Video Conferencing, (“Virtual Meetings”) – Business as Usual?

In this technology age one would think video conferencing (“virtual meetings”) would be as common a sliced bread.

While the MPI Foundation and Maxavantage is showing that a large segment of organizations manage hundreds of virtual meetings a year, for many more the role of the virtual meeting remains undefined.  Less understood and perhaps equally challenging  may be having to consider a generational gap keeping virtual meetings from becoming a completely accepted and “normal” way of doing business.

What is a virtual event?  This question still remains in many organizations, as the virtual event is truly a child of the new millennium.  There are pros and cons to utilizing virtual meetings vs. face-to-face.  Some considerations to weigh are:

  1. Are travel costs a factor for your company or for the client companies you serve?
  2. Remember to do your research, both of the available technology and about your client base.  If you’re selling to baby boomers technology may not be as desirable.
  3. If the clients you serve are gen-Y, or even gen-X’ers, virtual may not just be an option, it may be their preferred way to do business.

Virtual meetings have data-collection advantages.  Participant data is far easier to compile and make good marketing use of and live events can’t compete in that area.  These software vary enough such that switching from vendor to vendor presents a learning curve, so your organization will want to do some heavy research into the pros and cons of each vendor before committing; keeping in mind, nothing will be perfect.

Among the competitors (though certainly not all) in the virtual meeting software industry are Go to Meeting, Imeet, Webex, CIO, Any Meeting and Team Viewer.

What is driving more companies to embrace virtual meetings?  Travel budget cuts is one solid reason found through anecdotal data, however, of interest is that many meeting professionals report that while their clients did have budgets for meetings involving travel, their clients’ clients did not.  Doing business virtually allows the host company to reach more potential and established clients at a better price point.

Here are five, but certainly not all, key issues regarding virtual meetings:

  1. Online meetings and video conferencing rank highest in preference (90%) among corporate meeting planners.
  2. Most organizations do not have a standard definition or policy for virtual meetings.
  3. Many meeting planners don’t believe in making the networking component part of virtual meetings, therefore the meetings run shorter than meetings which are face-to-face.
  4. One key challenge to ease of adoption of virtual meetings in an organization is the resistence among on-technically inclined staff.
  5. In order for virtual meetings to be embraced leadership must support them and set up internal support teams to integrate and facilitate them.

Finally, Virtual Edge announced its top 7 predictions for virtual meeting technologies for the new year in January 2012:

Video Conferencing, (“Virtual Meetings”) – Business as Usual?

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