It’s a nightmare scenario: you’ve spent weeks preparing for an important webinar with dozens (or hundreds) of existing or prospective clients, and as the time comes for everyone to log on and participate your meeting service goes down.. Or no one can hear you. Or your presentation won’t load and looks glitchy and pixelated.
In a matter of minutes everyone you’ve painstakingly recruited starts logging off in droves, turning all of your hard work into a waste.
When platforms for online meetings fail, whether for large-scale webinars or routine internal company meetings, there is a tangible loss of momentum and sense of frustration that takes over.
It’s important to have a backup plan for remote meeting services for companies that have moved largely to a work-from-home policy during the quarantine period for COVID-19.
Matt Stevenson, Vyopta’s Senior Solutions Engineer, said companies need to balance several considerations including cost, IT and training demands, feature sets and most critical functions when looking at adding a second or third option to the tools available for conducting remote meetings via video.
“Having a backup is super important but there’s a lot of considerations including that you have to maintain paying for two systems and supporting them,” Stevenson said. “You want to look for a solution that is easy to deploy and support and where you can easily train users to say that if something isn’t working then we can use this, and this is how it works.”
Important Steps: Stress Tests and Scheduling
Make sure your IT department is aware and prepared before any large-scale or critically important meeting takes place, so they can make sure the on-premises network is in good condition. That advance notice also allows for stress tests across a company or relevant departments to make sure your Webex, Zoom or other platform is able to handle the demand.
“Your IT people should have everyone get on at once to see how performance is affected. Based on what they find, another option is looking at audio only meetings to use less bandwidth,” he said. “That means it’s not as interactive but you can kind of dumb these things down a bit and that will at least help in the quality of service since if everybody has got their video on it’s going to create a lot of stress on the system.”
Another option for important meetings is scheduling around low-demand times including Friday afternoons or weekends because demand for online meetings tends to fall off drastically once western Europe and the eastern United States have finished the heaviest part of their business days.
Look For Flexibility And Features
Stevenson said Cisco has taken a lead in reliability because it offers both on-premises and cloud-based packages, which means there will be less of a learning curve for users switching from one platform to the next.
“Hopping from a Webex to a completely different platform will get you lots of people who don’t have any idea what to do. Learning and training are extremely critical and when it comes to large-scale meeting platforms that could be used as a backup there’s going to be a decent cost involved,” he said.
“Then there’s the support and cost of hosting it in your data center, so what a lot of companies are doing is coming up with a backup option around devices that are free. Lots have Slack and that lets you do calling and meetings, or others can make due with merging calls on smartphones up to a certain amount.”
Stevenson also praised the features of BlueJeans including the tagging and transcribing capabilities that let users highlight a portion of a meeting they want to save or return to later. Whether those functions or others are important to how a company operates will go a log way to determining what kind of backup meetings solution they choose.
“Every company is going to be different based on how your company operates. Do you very much value face-to-face video meetings, do we value rich features around content sharing and collaboration and working on documents together,” he said. “Those things are all going to factor in because of course there are different platforms that do things differently than others.”
As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vyopta is currently offering a free trial to help IT teams support massive expansion in remote work.
Chad Swiatecki is a business writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Daily News, Austin Business Journal, Austin American-Statesman and many other print and online publications. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Michigan State University. Find him online on LinkedIn.