The State of Web Conferencing

I loathe my daily commute to work. Not because of where it’s taking me—I like my job, but the commute itself seems like some sort of draconian punishment for something I did in a past life. It robs me of somewhere between an hour-and-a-half to two hours of my day and costs me about two malaria nets per day—think of all the lives I could be saving! All of this is not to mention the fact that I spend my commute crammed on a train that is likely the disseminator of the next supervirus.

Maybe that was all a bit melodramatic, but the truth is I do relish the days which I work from home. Just about all of my work can be done from there, and I get some time back that’s typically stolen from me by my commute. When given the opportunity, I don’t hesitate to take it, except, that is, when I have a lot of meetings scheduled.

What We Have Now

Web conferencing and VoIP solutions (we use Google Hangouts at G2 Crowd) enable organization to have meetings regardless of how many miles separate the members sitting in on the meetings. While these tools solve a lot of problems, they’re far from perfect and not as good as being in the same room as your colleagues.

Too often problems arise when the not-so-tech-savvy employee tries to share his screen. If that bullet is dodged, nary a virtual meeting will end before multiple people are caught talking over each other, doing that awkward dance of trying to decide who should speak next.

A recent article in Wired Magazine outlined speaker-maker Sonos’ multi-office web conferencing arrangement—among other telecommunications tidings—and it should give all of us who take delight in remote work. It’s noted that it’s “impossible to even whisper” in one office without being heard in the other. Orwellian nightmares aside, it appears that Sonos may have gotten the whole remote communication thing right.

What Does the G2 Crowd Data Say?

Looking at our data, we can glean some insights into what people think of the state of web conferencing software today:

There’s doesn’t seem to be a huge variance user satisfaction for individual features. Looking at the lowest-rated features and the highest-rated across the category, there’s only a difference of nine percentage points between them.

Highest-Rated Web Conferencing Features
90% Satisfaction
88% Satisfaction
88% Satisfaction
88% Satisfaction
Lowest-Rated Web Conferencing Features
Follow-Up and Break-Out Meetings
81% Satisfaction
Bandwidth Usage
82% Satisfaction
Content Annotation
83% Satisfaction

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that muting has the highest satisfaction score.

There seems to be some indecision on whether or not web conferencing products are headed in the right direction:

Average Rating
Highest-Rated Products
100% (Biba &
Lowest-Rated Products
46% (Fuze Collaboration)

Given the range there, it looks like some products will sink while others swim. I think it’s fair to say the current web conferencing solutions are not quite where they need to be (Sonos’ excluded), but the products that are headed in the right direction stand to enable the changing, and soon to be nomadic, workforce. Who knows, maybe in a few years we’ll all find ourselves laughing about how archaic web conferencing was as our holograms gather in a virtual conference room.

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