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How do you decide between startup and legacy Web conferencing systems?

When should you consider a startup Web conferencing system over legacy systems like Cisco WebEx? Expert Carrie Higbie explains the options as well as features enterprises should consider.

Anytime you deploy new technology, like a Web conferencing system, it is in the company's best interest to explore all the options. You may very well end up back with a preferred, legacy vendor, but things change. Better products from newer vendors may exist of which you aren't aware. It's also a great way to learn about the capabilities important to your organization that you have not yet considered.  It's a good idea to have a selection team because features that are important in one department may not be in another. For example, some departments may want features such as the ability to record, and others will want playback on a variety of mobile devices, as playbacks limited to Flash won't work in iOS devices without some serious effort.  

You may have some departments that do a good portion of work with government or G500 companies that don't allow users to install anything on a workstation. Several Web conferencing applications force a download of software. In instances where the end user cannot install the plug-in, the application won't work for that call. This is true for starting up the call and, in some cases, to play back recordings.  

Another consideration is licensing. Some Web conferencing startups have very aggressive pricing in order to attract new users. The licensing options can be very creative. Some will license it by call, by number of participants, or by concurrent users. You need to know how many people will use the application and how. If you have to buy a license for each user and some of your users will only use the system sporadically, then this is not going to be a good solution.  

Further consideration needs to be taken regarding the hardware required on site. Some applications require a local server, which also means the server will have to be maintained. IT may not want that burden for an application that can be hosted elsewhere.  


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