What’s the Difference Between Web Conferencing and Video Conferencing?

By Paul Gragtmans - February 29, 2012 - Published under: Collaboration Technology Explained

Technology in the handsAt the most basic level, the difference between web conferencing and video conferencing is that web conferencing allows you to share a computer’s content over a distance and video conferencing allows you to see the other people you are connecting to from wherever they are.

That is a pretty straight forward answer.  But there are many different web conferencing technologies and video conferencing technologies available in the market with different functionalities and price points.

But, as with all technology, the lines start to blur between these two technologies as other new technology is created or added to existing products.

What is blurring the lines?

  • Web conferencing products are adding video
  • Video conferencing products let you share content
  • Both web and video capabilities are being built into other software products
  • New technological capabilities stir up the pot even more

The net result is – confusion!

And, as if this wasn’t confusing enough, there is another important factor to consider.  Not only are web conferencing and video conferencing great tools to collaborate, but there are two other key conferencing technologies that also come into the mix – audio conferencing and interactive whiteboard conferencing.

So how do you sort out what is best for what you need?

You need to figure out where you are starting from and where you want to get to.  Your starting point is determining: which of the conferencing technologies you have today; who in your organization can use them; and how easy they are to use.  Download our Free Guide for more on this. Your destination is your vision of how you want to be able to collaborate both within and outside of your organization.

Once you know your beginning and end points, you can figure out how to build a plan to get you where you want to go by asking yourself the right questions. Having clear answers to these questions can help you make a better determination of what makes sense for your organization.

Here are the most important questions to answer:

  1. Do you want to conference with people within your organization, outside your organization, or both?
    • You should further define what types of conferencing options (audio, web, video, interactive whiteboard) you would like with each audience.
  1. What conferencing technology, or technologies, will give you the biggest bang for the buck?
    • This will partly depend on what the use case is for the conferencing capability, but be careful not to only evaluate based on what you would like to do.  Many companies don’t understand what is possible to accomplish with the tools, so they may miss the greatest benefits the tools can provide.
  1. Why do you want to conference? To save money? To increase productivity?  Or, to foster greater creativity and innovation in your organization?
    • The right conferencing tools can provide all three benefits, but the greatest ROI is found in stimulating innovation.  if you are just starting out, take a few steps at a time.
  1. How much budget do you have to increase collaboration in your organization?
    • This will play an important role in determining which conferencing capabilities to embark on first, how widely they will be made available in your organization and when they should be deployed.
  2. How rich do you want the collaboration experience to be for the participants?
    • The richness can vary for each type of conferencing capability and the richness of the experiences plays a very important role in trying to realize the ROI, e.g. if the video experience is poor, people will still travel for face-to-face meetings.
  1. How important is security for your organization?
    • The spectrum is pretty wide here.  Skype has millions of users around the world because it is free, easy to use and it works pretty well for person to person communication.  But it isn’t a secure corporate platform.  On the other side of the spectrum we have locked down corporate networks, with all communication within the corporate WAN and no access in for the outside world.  Security requirements will play a very important role in determining which tools you can use and how they are deployed.
  1. Do you have executive or ownership buy in to move forward with the conferencing technologies?
    • Executive sponsorship is critical.  The early adopters may latch onto the new technology but if the general population doesn’t see the executive buy in they won’t change their habits either.
  1. How will the technology in group work spaces interact with the personal technology workers use at their desks, from their homes or on the road?
    • Where, when and how we work is evolving all the time.  Make sure the conferencing tools that you choose are integrated to work both in a group space and individual work environments so the two can connect seamlessly.
  1. How will you manage the conferencing technologies once they are implemented?
    • Having the answers to this question is a big part of the overall decision to move forward

 

Responses

  1. Web conferencing is about sharing desktop screens, application sharing etc. It also includes video conferencing. Video conferencing means only face to face interaction online. Nowadays, companies like RHUB, provide web conferencing servers which provides web + video conferencing; all in one box.

    James Vincent on July 25, 2014 at 2 h 25 min

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