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July 02, 2007

What Teleconferencing Means to the SMB

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


If you work in the corporate world, chances are you have been involved in a meeting with some sort of teleconferencing. If not, expect to be. As this form of communications continues to gain in popularity, especially for small businesses. Why the surge for teleconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings? The answer is simple – the technology now available for teleconferencing has advanced to the point that better communications can happen more often when face-to-face is not feasible.
 
The small- and medium business (SMB) sector of the market continues to grow and those businesses that fall into this category represent a significant majority of business opportunity. As a result, vendors must look to provide innovative solutions that address the needs of this segment of the market, while also adhering to smaller budget requirements.
 
Teleconferencing enables the small business to have the same free flow of communications among key players and customers that would be achieved in face-to-face meetings, without the actual cost of travel. Many have tried to achieve the same level of communications with email and basic phone calls, but much is lost when using such avenues.
 
E-mail, while it provides a great communication tool in many ways, it lacks essential elements of the communication process. Every e-mail sent is one-sided, even if it is received by more than one person. It also cannot display any emotion or other non-verbal cues that make up our ability to communicate. Without the ability to freely exchange information and read cues from others, the goal of the communication can be lost, costing valuable business time and potentially creating an unpleasant experience for a customer.
 
Phone calls are still preferred over e-mail in that the personal element of voice inflection and other non-verbal cues can be added back into the communication. However, when more than 2 people are needed in the conversation, a basic phone call lacks the necessary functionality to be productive.
 
The options now available for teleconferencing allow for complete interaction among all participants, no matter their location. Teleconferencing sessions can include visuals and desktop screen sharing that enable all meeting participants to have full interaction with all others. Such capability allows for full meeting facilitation without the added expense of travel and valuable time lost while traveling.
 
For the small business on a tight budget, such capability can help to drive products and services to market faster to gain a better competitive advantage. In a tightly competitive landscape, time can make the difference between market dominance and obsolescence and the SMB usually has very little wiggle room between the two.
 
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page

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