Since its beginning in 1970’s, Web conferencing has evolved over time to become what it is today, a free service that is available via internet. All it requires is to download a software that will allow you to connect to people across the world and see them, talk to them, text them, all in real time.
Defining Web Conference
Web conference is an interaction between a group of people, in diverse locations, in order to conduct a real time meeting, training, marketing, collaboration or any such activity where information is disseminated to a group using the internet, through various media such as audio, video and text inputs.
Though most people use the terms video conferencing and web conferencing interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.
Difference between Video Conferencing and Web Conferencing
Let us take a look at the way the two technologies work to understand the difference between video conferencing and web conferencing.
- While web conferencing is aimed at sharing content, video conferencing is a face to face communication.
- Both the technologies use camera and microphone for interaction between participants.
- Where web conferencing is meant for dissemination of information to a large and diverse group, using various media like audio, video and text messages. Video conferencing is a one to one interaction between a smaller group of people using only audio and video inputs.
- People participating in a web conference can easily join in from anywhere, as long as they have access to a computer or other such device and software that can be easily downloaded. Video conferencing, on the other hand, requires specialized equipment to connect the participants.
Thus, we can see that the two technologies are radically different from each other. But as new technology is being developed, the two technologies will continue to adopt features form each other, and the lines between the two will blur.
Types of Web Conference
Web conference can be of many types. All it needs is an audience and interaction between them and the presenter to initiate web conferencing. It can include the following:
- Web Meeting: It is a meeting that is in the virtual environment. The participants join the virtual meeting via the internet and can exchange information freely with one another.
- Webcast: This is an internet broadcast of a program or message. It is similar to TV programs but uses internet to push the message across. Any number of people can join a webcast, but the flow of information is restricted from the presenter to the audience.
- Webinar: This is similar to a seminar, but since it is virtual and on the internet, hence it is called a webinar. There is some interaction between the presenter and the audience but not as freely as in a web meeting.
- Online Presentations: These would include presenting a product or idea to a group through the use of live audio and video, slide shows, and chat. The participants can see the presentation and communicate with the presenter.
- Online Collaboration: This is the most popular form of web conferencing here the participants can use various medias to interact with one another and the presenter freely. It can include, sharing of documents, chatting, slide shows, streaming videos and all the other tools used in web conferencing.
Advantages of Web Conferencing
Web conferencing is an efficient and easy way to communicate between people who may be in diverse locations and need to collaborate. The advantages of the technology include:
- Team Collaboration: Easy for the team to collaborate and interact. Web conference provides the same environment to its participants as a physical meeting would.
- Organizing a meeting any time: The various participants may be in different locations of time-zones but can all be present for a web conference at a predetermined time.
- No Need to Travel: cuts down on travel time of the team as no one needs to travel to attend the meeting. People can simply join in via their computers.
- Cost effective: it is cost effective as there is no need for the team to leave their physical location and travel back and forth, so the business incurs no travel expenses. Since it is internet based and does not require too much of bandwidth, it is cheaper than other media of real-time interaction.
- Maintain Records and Archives: It is easy to record and archive meetings and trainings through the web conference.
- Sharing of Application and Desktop: Since it is easy to share information via documents, spread sheets, data sheets and presentations, all the members of the team are aware of what is going on.
- Helps The Business: besides time-saving and cost saving, web conferencing can help to train your employees easily and quickly, it can help businesses interact better with their customers. There is better collaboration amongst the various teams and since everyone it informed, it is easier to fill in for a team member in case of an emergency. This helps businesses respond quickly.
As more businesses turn to work from home environment, the future of technologies like web conferencing is bright.