June 23, 2017

Tools for Online Business Meetings.

The young entrepreneur no longer has to worry about making expensive business trips to the far corner of the world to close a deal. Now, they can just use the right tech tools to conduct their business meetings online. With the advancements in video conferencing (VoIP) it would be as though you were actually there in person.

The concept of videoconferencing has origins in movies from the early 50s. However, it took another 40 years before the technology got advanced enough for it to become a mainstream means of conducting business meetings. A lot of tools, both on the hardware and software side of things have sprung up over the years, each of them bringing their own mix of flexibility and limitations to the table.

It is up to the young entrepreneur to decide which combination of these fit their bill the most. Factors such as features and cost of these tools will have to be taken into account.

The three most important features to consider in video conferencing are video quality, audio quality and internet latency. All of these conferences will be taking over an internet connection, so having a fast and reliable broadband connection is a must and cannot be emphasized enough. Let’s get started with the three important features of a good video conferring tool:

Video Quality
The versatility afforded by modern internet connections can be used to leverage extremely high definition of video conferencing, mostly at resolutions of 720p but can be taken as far as 1080p. Most cameras that come built in with your phone or laptop can be used for private video calling purposes, but business meetings require a completely different grade of quality that these cameras usually cannot meet.

Instead, the business should be looking to invest in a dedicated webcam built for the specific purpose of facilitating high quality video calling.

There are plenty of webcams on the market, some of them are as cheap as $50 and others can actually exceed $500, depending on the number of features they have. We have highlighted two of the most powerful, economical webcams we could get our hands on.

AUSDOM AW615 High Definition Webcam
As it says on the name tag, the AUSDOM is an HD webcam that can give a video output of up to 1080p. It comes in a tiny package with a CD-ROM containing the relevant drivers for hooking up the webcam with your computer. One of the biggest advantages of this webcam is manual focus, this is a huge plus since most webcams out there have a fixed focus, resulting in choppy quality if you’re not sitting the right distance from the camera—making for awkward exchanges in business meetings.

Genius 120 degree Ultra Wide  Angle Full HD Webcam
While speaking out the product’s name is definitely a mouthful for anyone, it is one of the few cameras out there that has a wide angle, enough to accommodate a large group of people on the screen. Those awkward moments when you’d have to readjust the camera lens every now and then are a thing of the past with this webcam.

Both of these webcams contain built in microphones that have a rather lackluster quality. Business conferences need a sharp and crisp audio quality. Hence, you will have to hunt for microphones that are built specifically for this purpose and not just an afterthought retrofitted half-heartedly in webcams for the sake of advertising a complete package.

Some business meetings either have microphones spread out through the table for everyone to use, or only have one microphone that participants end up passing around uncomfortably – cheap but a rather unprofessional solution. We believe that businesses and entrepreneurs should adopt the former approach and incorporate multiple wireless mics that participants can easily latch onto their shirts (or whatever fabric they’ve adorned themselves with).

Some research on our end pinpoints to the Pyle-Pro PDWM96 lavalier mic, it can be worn around the neck and has great quality for the price offered. It has both frequency response and modulation for perfect audio quality.

The software
Now that the hardware side of things is taken care of, it’s time to shop around for compatible software that can complement the expensive hardware that you just purchased. This process is a lot more complicated than shopping for hardware because there is an endless variation of software out there. The young entrepreneur who doesn’t have experience with business meetings might feel just a tiny bit daunted at the prospectus of narrowing down the perfect software solution.

But our article has taken care of the software side of things as well, just read on.

Skype has become almost synonymous with online business conferences. The fact that most other similar software always find a way to integrate Skype into their platforms just highlights to its ubiquity. Just download the latest version of Skype and configure the video and audio devices that you have just bought. You’re now good to conduct conference calls.

Google+ Hangouts
The most obvious competitor to Skype, Google+ Hangouts supports video chatting in a group, the participants only have to create a Gmail account and use the online dashboard to launch video calling. Unlike with Skype however, there is no need to download any software, it can done on the browser.

Used by enterprises for online business conferences, GoToMeeting features a wealth of services such as HD video chatting, desktop sharing and even allows users to collaborate on word documents. It requires you to download the application to your PC in order for it to function. This one is a paid-for service and requires you to dish out $49 a month.

The future – holographic meetings
None of the above solutions can provide you the feeling of ‘being’ there in your business meetings. But the tech of the future, holograph display will display a 3D rendering of yourself to a business meeting. The technology is in its infancy and current offerings on the market are cumbersome and inconvenient, not to mention extremely pricey, something that young entrepreneurs cannot afford. For now, holographic meetings is limited in the world of fiction, but hold a promising future once the technology measures.

by Bobby J Davidson

As the President of Percento Technologies, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the company.

The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a Business Technology | Anytime | Anywhere for organizations in need of Managed IT Services, Professional IT Consulting, and Infrastructure Projects. We have a fantastic suite of boutique-managed Cloud Servers to choose, along with Network Cabling and high end professional website services.

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