VoIP conference software is emerging as a major teleconferencing solution for businesses and large corporations. They find the software extremely useful in holding conferences and meetings with their staff members who are located in different cities. The software is also being used by academicians, who are experimenting with the idea of an interactive virtual classroom.
The software is very flexible and can be configured to meet different needs. The user can have different combinations of audio, video and text in real-time or asynchronous forms.
The asynchronous conferencing solutions, which were the first to arrive, include message boards, bulletin boards, forums, blogs etc. Most of them are linear with entries that are displayed in chronological order. Threaded discussions that are based on topics are better because they allow sub-topics to be integrated in the main discussion.
Asynchronous solutions allow people who are in different time zones to participate in the discussions, at their own convenience. Forums focus on a particular topic or subject, and enable a committed group of participants to share their experiences and information.
But it is synchronous or real time solutions that include interactive webcasting, teleseminars, interactive chat, webinars and instant messaging which are making a wave. Real time solutions require the participants to communicate with each other at the same time. They may be at different locations, but the technology enables them to interact as if they are all located at the same place.
Though most of these solutions are web based, teleconferencing on the conventional phone system is still common. There is a convergence between the conventional phone system and web based systems thanks to VoIP software.
The only limiting factor is bandwidth. Video conferencing requires a lot of bandwidth to transmit video and audio signals of acceptable quality. The bandwidth requirements go up as the number of participants increase, making teleconferencing an expensive proposition.
That is why VoIP-based video conferencing is more suitable for large corporations where there is a need to reduce the traveling expenses, and increase quality work time of executives. The small business applications may find it difficult to set up dedicated links and high-speed networks.
Solutions that enable groups of people to work together include online virtual classrooms. Some advanced solutions of this type integrate messaging, audio, video and conferencing in both real time and asynchronous modes. Blogging and forum software have been used for online collaboration. The possibilities are many. However, much depends on the way technology evolves.