Videoconferencing Adoption and ROI
While videoconferencing can help reduce operating costs and improve decision making, just half of businesses actually use it.
Cisco Systems has introduced a new WebEx offering called WebEx 8 that is targeted specifically at small and mid-sized businesses. As its name suggests, SMBs that subscribe for the $19 per-month plan can conduct an unlimited number of online meetings for up to eight people, which is less than half the price of the previous, lowest-cost option of $49 per month for up to 25 participants. To make the deal even more attractive, the price dropped to just $15 a month for businesses that prepay for a year, according to this report on eWeek.
Having a lower-cost option no doubt aids in better positioning WebEx against competitors such as the Group video feature in Skype, but also has the effect of encouraging SMBs that may not have explored online meetings to do so. Jennifer Carole, a social media team member for the WebEx business confirmed the company's strategy when she wrote about the new price package on the company blog:
While executives are clear they need a powerful communication's arsenal ... smaller businesses and individuals aren't yet reaping the rewards. WebEx wants to make video conferencing accessible to everyone in any sized company ...
WebEx meetings are a favorite of many public relations folks, and I've attended my fair share of such meetings. From experience, I can say that the audio is impeccable even from halfway across the world in Singapore (I mainly converse with companies in the U.S.), and its high-quality video makes it possible to share desktops as well as videoconference via webcam. The ability to record meetings and integrate with Outlook's calendaring system are also highly regarded capabilities, while compatibility with all major platforms means one less item to worry about. Indeed, most mobile and tablet platforms are supported as well, which includes the iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android smartphones.
Folks who have never tried WebEx may want to give Eric Zeman's InformationWeek narrative about his experience with WebEx on his Mac a read. A 14-day free trial is available for those who wish to give the service a spin.
Do note that WebEx 8 only allows for one meeting "host," which, in WebEx vernacular, is the person with the ability to organize, schedule and start online meetings. And according to WebEx: "Host accounts may not be shared or used by anyone other than the person to whom the account is assigned." In contrast, the more expensive $49 plan allows additional meeting hosts to be added at an additional cost of $49 per host per month. Finally, WebEx 8 is only available in the United States at the moment - no mention has been made whether WebEx 8 will be made available in other geographical regions.