Tuesday, 21 July 2020 23:35

The five things IT leaders should consider in choosing a virtual meetings provider


GUEST OPINION BY Andrea Goding, General Manager Express Virtual Meetings:   As most people reading this will be acutely aware, the last few months of working from home have seen an exponential growth in the number of people using virtual communication and collaboration tools.

Despite the gradual easing of social distancing restrictions in some states in Australia (and perhaps to control potential and some would argue inevitable ‘waves’ of transmission) long-term remote working looks as though it’s here to stay for many businesses. It’s beginning to look like it will be our ‘new normal’.

Validation for remote working has also come from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) which in March this year made temporary modifications to the Corporations Act to mandate virtual AGMs, along with specific guidelines for using virtual technology. Virtual AGMs are currently here to stay until November, but given COVID-19 and forced remote working has accelerated digital transformation (some say by several years) many ASX-listed companies are hoping that ASIC may make a permanent modification to the Act.

All of which means that it’s a good opportunity for organisations to take stock of how they currently connect and communicate (in or out of the office) and to ensure the tools they have are fit for purpose. When COVID-19 hit, many businesses scrambled to support the mass exodus from the office and in many instances, employees simply selected their own tools and improvised from their BYO devices. Whilst this kept the wheels in motion, individual users were inadvertently risking the security of their company systems and their own individual privacy. We know from customers who approached Express Virtual Meetings (EVM) for advice that this fragmented approach caused more than a few problems.

So we’d recommend that now is a great time to undertake a simple five question audit of your virtual conferencing technology.

Do you need a managed conferencing service?

Naturally, if you’re an ASX-listed company and you need to use virtual technology to conduct your AGM and investor updates online, then the answer is a firm yes. It’s imperative to have end-to-end management of your virtual AGM in order to benefit from behind the scenes call monitoring, provide a streamlined, efficient and secure guest connection service and facilitateengaging Q&A and voting sessions that are easy for your participants and comply with strict ASIC guidelines. Beyond AGMs these elements can also be important for mission-critical virtual meetings and large-scale tele and video conferences.

If your provider doesn’t have a team that can work behind the scenes to resolve tech issues for your attendees so that your internal team doesn’t have to, then a managed conferencing service may be the right fit for your organisation.

Does size matter?

As Australian organisations settle in for the long-haul when it comes to minimal business travel and remote working, considering the capacity of your conferencing provider’s capability will be critical to business continuity. Perhaps the scale and frequency of your virtual meetings or events will grow as virtual conferences replace physical face-to-face meetings and events, or at the very least work alongside them. It’s key to ensure that the provider you choose has the capacity to scale to accommodate hundreds if not thousands of virtual meeting participants as your business grows.

How important is user security and privacy?

This is a critical issue to consider for IT leaders, who are responsible for preventing security breaches within an organisation – and for some, the last few months have given them more than a few headaches. The well documented security issue with Zoom has led to many security-conscious organisations reconsidering their options and, in the case of the Australian Federal Government, led to a government-wide ban.

If you aren’t already using an H.323 video bridging service with end-to-end secure SHA-256 RSA SSL encryption to keep your video conferencing information safe from potential interceptors then you could be putting your organisation at risk. Also, to be considered is the ease of access and the security risk of online video conferencing solutions. A WebRTC-built browser-based video conferencing solution is inherently secure as it requires user permission to allow the use of their own microphone and camera. WebRTC also enforces always-on end-to-end encryption and as it uses the Secure RTP (SRTP) protocol for encryption and authentication, both voice and video security is ensured.[1]

Is user and company data storage located in Australia or off-shore?

In addition to user security and privacy, data security is an important aspect to consider when you are dealing with market sensitive information. Recording meetings and online events is now a ‘must’ but where is this information going to be stored? For many businesses, the best option is to seek a virtual conference provider which uses secure data centres located in Australia and complies with relevant local privacy and data security legislation, as well as standard security protocols.

Is Australia-based customer service and technical support critical to your operations?

Having this type of on-demand support available around the clock takes the pressure off internal IT resources should users of the conferencing service require immediate technical assistance during their important conference calls. Typically, an Australian based provider has a better understanding of how Australian customers tick; we know from happy customers that our attentive customer service team have assisted with resolving a number of technical situations.

Express Virtual Meetings is proudly Australian owned and operated. It has been supporting small to medium businesses and large-scale enterprises in Australia to help them connect locally and internationally for nearly 20 years and are unmatched in their commitment to exceeding customer service expectations.

Enquire today on 1300 849 300 or visit www.expressvirtualmeetings.com

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