So says the Financial Times, that pink English newspaper. Back in the 1990s, video conferencing was supposed to change the business world by eliminating travel, but the idea never caught on. The equipment was very expensive and nobody liked the jerky images and unsettling time lapses. Also, your firm needed to lease an insanely expensive T-1 phone line to use videoconferencing.
So enter the PC-conferencing companies like Webex, a San Jose company that offers web meetings, where people can share documents online, view each other’s computer desktops live, and talk about them via a conference call. The idea is to replicate a normal meeting, where people pass notes around and examine documents. Once people are trained to use it “nobody complains that it is complicated or boring,” one executive from a company that avidly uses desktop meetings told the FT.
A webcam option may be added, but seeing another individual is not the real benefit of PC-based conferencing, says the FT in its April 12 Digital Business Special Report. Meeting attendees use the mainly use the camera only to say “hello” and “goodbye.”
In use since 2002, Webex has proven valuable for technical experts who need to confer over vast distances. A lawyer in New York, for example, could use it to discuss a case with an expert witness in San Francisco.
And PC conferencing is waaay cheaper than video conferencing. Masergy, a networking business catering largely to major corporations, will provide web conferencing for up to 100 users at any one time for a monthly fee of $1,500.
So here’s the marketing angle: professional firms can use desktop meetings to confer with remote clients, without either party having to buy any expensive equipment. The same time and airfare cost savings are gained as with old-time video conferencing. Law firms that market their online meeting capability will be more attractive to clients and be able to distinguish themselves from competitors.
What’s not to like?