Monday, May 11, 2009

Corporate Investments in Web Conferencing Continuing


Thanks to the low- and no-cost offerings, companies have invested serious money in Web conferencing solutions, to the tune of $935 million in 2006, according to Gartner. Alongside other collaborative features such as calendaring, email, instant messaging, and presence, this capability will be available to 75 percent of corporate users by 2010.


The days when your entire team had to physically gather in one room, at a costly offsite center, or around a single desk to shuffle papers and sift through pie charts are largely over. Thanks to geographically dispersed organizations and the increased cost of business travel, Web conferencing solutions are gaining popularity for meetings, training, and presentations. “People are definitely more interested [in Web conferencing],” explains Jeffrey Mann, research vice president and agenda manager for collaboration at industry-analysis firm Gartner. Mann explains there are three main reasons why companies consider Web conferencing: money, environmental impact, and travel hassle.


Sanjeev Aggarwal, vice president for small-to-midsize business infrastructure solutions at analyst firm AMI-Partners, cites many of the same reasons for Web conferencing’s impact. “Driven by the global economic crisis, high travel costs, increases in gas prices, and natural disasters, the relevance of conferencing solutions increases enormously,” he said in a statement. “[They] help reduce costs, provide clearly identifiable [return on investment], and drive business growth.”


Hyoun Park, research editor of the technology markets group at Aberdeen Group, says companies can quantify the potential savings simply by looking at the amount of travel that would otherwise be required to bring together dispersed employees.


According to Gartner’s Mann, companies wishing to connect two or three people in a limited manner have some free options for Web conferencing. That said, he explains that if you’re looking at a standard application on a per-moderator or per-organizer model, companies can expect to lay out anywhere between $20 and $40 per month. A really big meeting of perhaps 10,000, Mann says, can “get up into a couple of thousand dollars.”


Thanks to the low- and no-cost offerings, companies have invested serious money in Web conferencing solutions, to the tune of $935 million in 2006, according to Gartner. Alongside other collaborative features such as calendaring, email, instant messaging, and presence, this capability will be available to 75 percent of corporate users by 2010, thanks to what Gartner predicts will be a 19.5 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). SMBs will also be spending more on Web conferencing $693 million in 2012, according to AMI, a CAGR of 10.2 percent.


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