Here are a few ideas for software video conferencing providers to aid in greater usage and better market share. It’s just a little friendly advice from the guy who spends his free time testing and reviewing software products. In random order of course…
1. Be easy to install
Keep it as simple as possible. There will be many instances where someone will download the software only minutes before the meeting so a quick install is fantastic.
2. Have simple, upfront pricing and put it on your website
The obscure pricing model is something that’s been an issue for a while. Don’t tout that your product can be “as low as” $XX per month when the number is based on a huge multiplier that no one will buy or providing FREE software as long as you buy tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of infrastructure while only emphasizing the FREE software part. It’s infuriating.
3. Offer free time limited accounts so people can try it
Cripple it as needed, but don’t expect that after a 10 minute demo with a salesperson that anyone will commit to a PO. Users need to kick the tires and test the product out in several different ways to make sure it’s right for them. A month long account should be ample.
4. Do not require non-paying conference participants to register or give up their email address
Most people (myself included) are wary to give up their email address on a one-shot deal for fear of spam. This should be a no-brainer for participants invited to a meeting who aren’t registered users.
5. Make the user interface clean and easy to use
I can’t stress this enough. Software, versus hardware and its integrated nature, need not be complicated. If you’re touting ease of use, then the product must be easy to use. I know that statement doesn’t come as a shock but it is amazing how complicated some products are. Clutter within the product, or adding bells and whistles where unneeded will not increase usage. See number 6.
6. Do not add so many useless options just because “more is better”. Differentiate your product by having a better experience, not more widgets.
I can’t tell you how many useless widgets I’ve come across. Video and data collaboration are critical. Recording capability is useful. A post meeting pop-up saying “thanks for using our product” is a waste. I will add one exception for something potentially useless that I would like: Google Map integration with a marker that locates every participant. Of course it won’t be exact, but if the right city even shows up, it could be helpful.
7. Test other provider’s products. Make yours better.
I’m not sure if anyone tests competing products, but it should be of high importance. Then, you get to know what works, what doesn’t, what is great and what is stupid. In addition to that, everyone in your company should be using your product as often as possible.
8. Do not under any circumstances compare your product (ever) to anyone’s hardware product
Hardware over a dedicated network with QOS beats software over the internet every time. That marketing dog won’t hunt.
9. Don’t tout unrealistic resolutions unless your product can actually display it at a good framerate without the need for a super duper ultra-fast cable connection (on both ends)
HD Capable is something I read about often. Realistically, I’ve been in very few software based meetings where the resolution could approach 720p without things going haywire.
10. Do not, by any means, ever run a ‘charge by the minute’ program.
This also should be a no-brainer. We should want people to use video conferencing more and not limit its usage, it only benefits our industry.
I love software based video conferencing products. The convenience factor alone is fantastic but obscure pricing, cluttered UIs and disappointing performance continues to frustrate me.