Sometimes I spend a good portion of my day on WebEx. I’ve met some of the staff at Cisco and when they pass control of the meeting to another participant they say they’re “passing the ball,” because the WebEx icon looks like a ball.
According to the Cisco WebEx website, “WebEx web conferencing lets you connect with anyone, anywhere, in real time. WebEx combines desktop sharing through a web browser with phone conferencing and video, so everyone sees the same thing while you talk.” The company says three million people use the service.
Figures from 2009 show WebEx being the dominant market-share leader, with Citrix Online and Microsoft Live Meeting in second place. But being the market leader doesn’t mean you don’t have critics, and it’s likely WebEx could grow its market share by solving some technical problems and improving its customer support.
People like WebEx best for enabling them to hold virtual meetings for training, conferencing, and sharing and collaborating.
Free is always popular with consumers, and WebEx’s free trial is an effective sales tactic.
Speaking of free, the free WebEx app for the iPad app is a great promotion for both the service and the device.
Consumers have even quantified the time and money they save by using WebEx for virtual meetings, and they love the WebEx mobile application.
Technology is a great time- and money-saver—when it works. From crashing browsers to slow connection speeds, users have some issues with WebEx.
And when users have issues, nothing is more frustrating than poor technical support.
Cost is an issue, even among users who like WebEx’s functionality.
Many users also had problems with audio functionality.
There’s no shortage of competition in the web conferencing space. Among the competitors mentioned in posts are GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, NetMeeting, GoToMyPC, Live Meeting, Unyte, Adobe Connect Pro, Unified Meeting and others. WebEx is backed by Cisco—a big plus in terms of telecom experience and reputation—but other services are backed by the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Citrix and other heavyweights.
At this point, WebEx is so well known that people often use “webex” as a generic term for web conferencing—a good and bad thing. Good because that’s great ongoing name recognition and ensures WebEx is always on the short list of possible vendors. Bad because the company needs to continue protecting its trademark so it doesn’t lose it, even while continuing to promote the name as the standard for web conferencing.
As we’ve seen with other products, people often complain about cost and in the same sentence say the product delivers real value. So even though some users perceive WebEx as expensive—cost was the second-largest negative theme—the company’s pricing may be about right. That’s an important business lesson, given that “Microsoft Live Meeting, while continuing to saturate the market, is declining in terms of revenue share, partly due to its aggressive pricing and bundling.”
Technical problems do crop up, given that the product has to work across a range of operating systems, browsers, security software, etc., and apparently the audio feature is especially problematic, but Cisco could take to heart the complaints about customer support and improve that function, which can obviously have a positive impact on the bottom line.