Better Online Meetings for SMB

It’s easy to think of IT departments as a dedicated crew of folks sitting in a room unlocking passwords, restoring Internet access and implementing all of the tools that keep a business connected. But for many Small or Medium Businesses (SMBs), the responsibility of choosing and implementing the right technology solutions often falls on business leaders.

When it comes to web-conferencing, selecting the right solutions is even more crucial for these businesses. Having a high-quality, reliable online meeting experience can go a long way in helping SMB leaders juggle the many hats they wear.

Why online meetings?

Even in a small or medium-sized business environment, employees, partners or vendors can be spread across cities, states and even countries. So when it’s time to collaborate on projects or nail down final approvals – and traveling budgets are tight – online meetings can save the day. Especially when you consider the ways people now connect and work together.

Distributed collaboration, the “ability for people to work as an integrated team or group at a distance (both time and space) from each other in a coordinated manner for a specific purpose or goal,” is on the rise. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed by CMS Wire said they do some percentage of work on so-called distributed or hybrid teams; almost 40 percent spent more than a whopping 65 percent of their work time on these teams.

Whether an SMB owner is collaborating with vendors, organizing a staff meeting or connecting with clients across the globe, a web-conferencing product like WebEx can reduce geographic boundaries to the distance between a desk and a computer screen.

Making the right choice

Understanding how online meetings can bridge critical gaps for SMBs is just the beginning.

Like any wise business decision, choosing the product involves several factors. Though price is usually the first consideration, SMB owners should consider other factors; how their team, partners, and customers collaborate, the devices they use when they’re mobile, product flexibility and compatibility – and even the company providing the web-conferencing service.

How simple is it to get started?

Without a dedicated IT team on-hand and on-call, SMB leaders often must wear the “Tech Aficionado” hat as well. Thankfully, user-friendly products with considerable web-conferencing powers do exist.

For SMBs or start-up business leaders, both time and resources can be in short supply. And when you add in interruptions to the workday – say a crew of web-conferencing specialists in your office to install equipment or conduct a training session on how to use it – productivity and profitability can be at-risk.

The web-conferencing solution SMBs choose should be an all-inclusive and provide the simplicity needed to make work life easier. With WebEx for example, you simply gauge the product you need, using your budget, how many people you need to have in a meeting or training session – and choose the best product for your business needs – all with a few clicks. There’s no hardware to install, nothing complex to administer and WebEx Meetings can be joined using the devices employees use every day, including the latest and greatest tablets, smartphones and even wearables when they’re on the move.

Security matters too

The beauty of online meetings is that attendees feel like they’re all in a single room with one another and are free to share ideas, projects, budgets, and potentially proprietary information – anything that would normally be discussed face-to-face. This means a web-conferencing solution needs to be extremely secure.

One study found that 60% of organizations share critical information during web-conferencing meetings. When choosing solutions, SMB owners should seriously consider the source of the product they want. Is the company reputable? How do they secure their connections? Are there established security features? Are there single-sign-on solutions and can meeting hosts control who joins the meetings?

This may seem like a lot of questions to ask, but there can never be too many when it comes to securing your brainstorming sessions and meetings. Hackers are always in a position to compromise business security and for SMB owners, this threat only increases without the extensive reach of dedicated IT workers to prevent attacks from happening.

So, what can SMB owners look for? The Skyhigh CloudTrust Program, which certifies the Cisco WebEx Cloud, provides impartial cloud security evaluations, so look for recognized industry leaders in security solutions.

SMB owners face enough challenges in running their operations, and online meetings should be the least of them. With a bit of assessment and research, finding a solution that fits their needs, offers flexibility, as their organization grows and keeps up with the dynamic business landscape, can be easily found.

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