Web Conferencing for Small and Medium Business - An Interview with VIACK CEO Brian Hodges

San Jose, CA (PressExposure) July 07, 2009 -- Business affairs writer Leslie Carter sat down with Brian Hodges in Denver, Colorado following a speech to small business owners on the current state of “Teleworking”. Below is a transcript of their discussion, which covers Web Conferencing, the main industry drivers, and how it applies to small and medium sized businesses.

Leslie Carter: For starters, can you give us a general overview of Web Conferencing? Brian Hodges: Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings, presentations, or collaboration sessions via the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants online. Traditionally we are used to conducting meetings face-to-face at a conference room table, where you can meet, present, and even brainstorm on the whiteboard. Actions like voting are as simple as casting a physical vote or raising your hand. File sharing was easy. You printed out copies and passed them around. The face of business has changed in the last decade, with businesses becoming more distributed, global, and mobile. The methods of conducting business had to change at the same time, which gave rise to the wide adoption of Web Conferencing. The same actions that you do around a conference room table can now be done online. This means equal or improved productivity and efficiency, without the travel time and cost.

Leslie Carter: What does this technology mean for home and small businesses? Brian Hodges: This technology is a game changer for small businesses who use it. Not only does it make them more cost efficient and productive, but allows them to interact with the world in a way that makes them appear 10 times larger than they are. It is a professional business communication platform which used to be reserved for large corporations. Now it is available for any size company, with very little up front cost.

Leslie Carter: Can you name some specific features that apply to small businesses? Brian Hodges: There are over a dozen different ways a small business can use web conferencing. For starters, VIA3 includes secure corporate IM, which allows small businesses to create their contact list, and communicate on the fly with each other. Presence detection is also included with the IM, so you can tell who is available to meet, who is away, who is offline, and who is busy. This makes it easy and efficient to call ad-hoc meetings when you need to collaborate with one another. Meetings are a great way for Small Businesses to gather with co-workers, partners, suppliers, customers, and prospects. In each meeting they can present, share their desktop, collaborate on documents or spreadsheets, and more. The Whiteboard feature is great for brainstorming business issues. Voting and polling helps with quick votes in the same way you would do it in person. Collaboration workspaces help store, track, and manage documents that they are sharing back and forth. Not only can you treat web conferencing as your own personal virtual conference room, but there are features that extend beyond that for collaboration and communication.

Leslie Carter: What are some of the industry drivers causing the Web Conferencing Industry to gain momentum? Brian Hodges: There are many drivers right now causing a huge up-tick in the Web Conferencing industry. Pandemics are one example. The Swine flu is the latest example of why teleworking is a great option versus face to face meetings where physical contact actually promotes physical risk. The economics and travel savings are another driver: Companies are recognizing that it is much more frugal to meet virtually than face-to-face, and the savings are enormous. Improved bandwidth is another driver. Fast pipes are needed for a great user experience when dealing with rich audio and video meetings, and over the last few years we have gone from dial-up as a standard, to having DSL and higher as a standard. Improved web conferencing technologies have definitely driven the industry as well. As the industry developed, so has compression, audio, and video technology. Nowadays we have a much deeper set of Web Conferencing features making the teleworking much more productive, connected, and realistic. Business adoption of Tele-Work is also exploding. Businesses are recognizing the vast need of utilizing teleworkers to provide flexibility in their workforce. Public adoption of Web Conferencing is on the rise. As web conferencing continues to take off, more and more of the general public are being exposed to web conferencing. As that rate of exposure increases, so does their willingness to try or adopt. Price drops for web conferencing services like VIA3 come into play as well. VIA3 for example, has gone from almost $100 per functional seat to $23.75. This is causing a competitive price war in many ways, which is only good for the consumer. Most of our competitors refuse to come down in price, however, as they know most of their customers are locked into long-term (and borderline price-gouging) deals. There has also been a price drop on needed hardware for web conferencing: More and more laptops come with built-in cameras and microphones. Users with computers that do not provide built in hardware are finding higher quality web cameras at steady or dropping prices.

Leslie Carter: How does a small business get started? Brian Hodges: There is a great deal of cognitive dissonance when first trying to foray into the web conferencing realm, but users quickly learn that it is incredibly easy to start, and then master. There are also very little up-front costs to getting started with Web Conferencing. First, you need a free account to get to know the software. This can be obtained for one month free at http://www.via3.com. Secondly, you need input / output hardware on your machine. For example, to contribute video to a meeting, you must have a web camera on your machine. Most new laptops have it built in, but for older ones you will need to grab one from your local store. If you want your audio (voice) to go into the meeting, you need a microphone. Those are usually built in to new laptops, but if not, you can easily find a web camera that has one built in. Once you are up and running, you can purchase a longer term contract with VIA3 based on the length of time you are most comfortable with.

Leslie Carter: You are the third CEO in Viack history? Brian Hodges: Yes. The founding CEO, Ron Koenig, set a solid foundation of unbreakable product security, so that VIA3 is the most secure web conferencing tool on the market today. The second CEO was Neil Woodruff, who oversaw the addition of dozens of customer driven, commercially viable features to compliment the security base of VIA3. The unique result of this is the most affordable, secure, and feature rich web conferencing solution available today.

Leslie Carter: What then, is the future of VIA3? Brian Hodges: We are going to continue to be the most affordable, secure, feature rich web conferencing solution on the market. While we continue to add customer driven features in VIA3, we are also going to expand our reseller numbers to continue domestic and international growth. We are going to continue signing strategic partnerships which bring the VIA3 features to a wider set of audiences. We are also going to make sure that the customer experience for VIA3 is fantastic end to end, so that we continue acceleration of our organic growth. We were voted the Best of Class for Web Conferencing in 2009 by the Web Conferencing Council... and if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.

(Editor note: Quick research showed that the Best of Class (Top 10 Vendors) for Web Conferencing 2009 whitepaper is available for a free download from http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com.) Press Release Distribution By PressReleasePoint

Contact: Mel Paisley VIACK Corporation San Jose, CA 408-499-0184 Mel.Paisley@viack.com http://www.via3.com

About VIACK Corporation

Brian Hodges: We are going to continue to be the most affordable, secure, feature rich web conferencing solution on the market.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 07, 2009 at 5:01 am
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