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7 questions to answer before buying Web demo or conference services (part 1 of 2)

Posted by contentgrrl on November 4, 2007

I wanted to share what I’ve learned while shopping for online demonstrations or Web teleconference services. Here are seven questions you need to answer before you begin shopping.

  1. How many? Gather the information about the number of users you want to meet, and how many sessions.
  2. How long? Do you want a small, short-term solution to train a customer who has remote sites? Do you want a hosted solution, rather than install the software on your own server? How long each session is going to be?
  3. How will your audience connect? Can you assume your customer’s users all have broadband Web access, Windows, Internet Explorer 5.5+, and enough administrative privileges to install a requisite browser plug-in? Some corporations previously standardized on a specific older version of Netscape. Make sure you understand the end-user minimum requirements for the conferencing system you choose, and maybe check with your client’s IT department to be sure they can comply.
  4. Is Audio separate or integrated? Some conferencing systems rely on a separate teleconferencing line, and some integrate audio with the web. But your customers’ PCs may not have the sound cards or speakers that will deliver the audio to your audience. You’d hate for them to miss out on your trainers’ words. If audio is integrated, look for an alternative phone number to be made available and easy for participants to find.
  5. How easy is it to use? Your should be able to schedule and host a session with ease, and it should be crystal clear for your clients to connect and get support if necessary. The fewer steps the better. Ask for a pre-sale demo from cradle to grave that includes scheduling, hosting, user connecting, and any post-conference reports, which can help you determine whether the initial sessions had technical difficulties that you need to address with the provider.
  6. What’s the cost basis? Pay-per-use can be 20-40 cents (US) per minute per user, or you may be limited to a 5-10 seats for $300-750/month. With pay-per-use, look to be charged for actual minutes used. If you’re charged for all the minutes you reserve, it can certainly cost more.
  7. Can you customize with your branding? If it’s important, consider a hosting provider that lets you show your logo on the registration page and/or web conference interface.

In part 2, 7 Web Conferencing Technology Providers Compared (Part 2 of 2), we’ll take a look at the pricing and particulars of 7 Web conferencing technology providers.

5 Responses to “7 questions to answer before buying Web demo or conference services (part 1 of 2)”

  1. Excellent article. A couple of other questions to consider before making the decision. As a disclosure, I represent Great America Networks Conferencing, so this probably will have a sales slant to it, but still is all true information and good to know:

    Training: While WebConferencing has become more user-friendly, it is good to be able to have a person you can call to walk you through any questions you might have. Personal support is always better than a help file or tutorial. With our service, you get a dedicated account manager that provides free ongoing personal training whenever needed to anyone in your company.

    Installation: Most WebConference solutions require an installation, and as you mentioned, not everyone has that luxury. If the Presenter of the conference has to make an installation, (ours requires no installation though, just that Java is updated on the presenters computer), then it is usually still workable, but the participants should be able to get in with just about any modern browser to view the conference. Ours allows this.

    Recording: Archiving a WebConference is a great way to make your presentation available to those that could not attend live. There is usually an extra charge for this, but make sure you are aware what it is ahead of time. Also how is it done, and how is the audio handled? Some require you to put a phone next to your PC speakers which will leave questionable quality at best. Others will require a purchase of additional hardware. Our solution integrates our Audio Conferencing service into the WebConference and records both the screen and the audio as one Windows Media File. We sync it, encode it, and host it for you indefinitely for you to distribute as needed.

    I can be reached to provide free demonstrations to anyone that is in the market of course, but if not, then I hope this information makes you a smarter consumer.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Consultant
    Great America Networks Conferencing

  2. contentgrrl said

    Thanks, Anthony. I did overlook those options, although we certainly took advantage of the walk-through training for one of our big one-time conferences with a new provider.

    As for recordings, the hosting is an excellent service for any company who doesn’t regularly host their own podcasts, and doesn’t support their own streaming media server.

  3. […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

  4. John said

    contentgrrl & Anthony ! Thanks to both of you..I read it earlier last december(and also one at ezine)and considering my small exporting business requirements I opt for with all the n is by far the best program I have seen . It gives sales presentation and product demo plus also provide online training or seminars. It’s more reliable than the others and one don’t need to download anything to use it.

  5. techwoo said

    7 questions to answer before buying Web demo or conference services (part 1 of 2) .Thanks for nice post.I added to my twitter.

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