Think of it as a meeting where the participants are in different locations with all the collaboration features of a physical face-to-face meeting. In fact, there is also a permanent record which can include recordings from the webcams of the participants, screen shares, and any shared documents – protecting both parties now and into the future.
When you are considering using Smart Meetings there are several options or capabilities that could be used. It is important to understand what your current needs are and how well they are being served, then use this as a baseline for assessing areas for improvement. We at Icon specialise in helping organisations understand what options are appropriate and the value they will provide. Using this understanding we can advise you on the optimal product/options mix to meet your need now and into the future.
Below is list some of the main areas that every organisation will need to consider before implementing Smart Meetings, together some insights and guidance. This is only meant to provide an introduction and we would strongly advise you see professional advice before purchasing any solution.
Capabilities within a Smart Meeting
In addition to recording the video and screen sharing, there are many other capabilities that could be implemented, these include:
e-signing signature options
There is a range of e-signing options available ranging from simple “click to sign” to eIDAS and biometric signatures. The type of signature you decide to use will be influenced by the level of risk associated with the transaction and the legal rules that apply. It is not unusual for different signature types to be used in the same solution as not all transactions will be the same level of risk.
To avoid expensive mistakes, it is important to understand what documents you will be signing and what rules apply before deciding on a Smart Meeting solution. One approach could be to always use eIDAS compliant signatures, but this would then impose more complexity than is required for some of your documents. This can deter users and be less efficient as the signing process can take longer and cost more.
ID Capture and verification
The need to positively identify a person is needed for several processes and the depth of checking will vary depending on the requirement. For example, KYC and AML will require more extensive checking, than when issuing a digital certificate to sign a document. The check could be done by the person hosting the meeting, but most organisation outsource the process to a specialist team to perform the task. This team could be in-house or make use of an external agency, this is normally influenced by the volume of check and if you have trained staff who can perform the checked reliably
Biometric Capture & reuse
In situations where a person needs to identify themselves regularly the use of biometric identification instead of a password can be more convenient for them. There are multiple methods of capturing biometric data all of which rely on the same principle, that the original artefact used to capture the biometric is not stored. For example, the fingerprint, picture of the face, or signature are not stored, only the parameters that describe the features.
In the example of a face, the geometry and distance between the sample points are saved, not the picture. When a new live picture is later analysed and geometry extracted, the two geometry of the original and live image is compared mathematically and a confidence level calculated. It is up to the business application to decide what the acceptance threshold will be.
Capturing text from Documents using OCR
This may seem like an unusual option but experienced has shown that some processes require date from scanned documents to be “transcribed” from one document to another. Using OCR technology this can be done interactively by the user selecting an area of a document to capture, or completely automated where the structure of the document is known. A good example of this is extracting the data from a passport or driving license.
We are all familiar with call centre operators reading out standard terms and conditions when we purchase as service, however, in regulated markets, certain transaction types do require the customer to be asked questions and receive a positive acknowledgement they have understood. In other cases, there may be a chain of tasks that must be done in the correct order to comply with the law. Scripted assistance is a useful capability and is used for assisting both Junior and experienced staff ensuring they follow procedures correctly.
There are two main licensing models, but in some cases, you could have a combination of the two. For example, and low cost per user and a consumption cost based on each external service used. External ID checks may not be required for every meeting and my vary from checking a document is valid, to an extensive personal identification check. Your costs may vary depending on the types of transaction you want to perform. We can help you with building a business case internally, but for now why not try our simple ROI calculator, this will give some indication of the saving that could be made for your organisation.
Per seat usage
User licenses can be based on a monthly charge for unlimited usage which is ideal for a small to medium size organisation. Providers are mainly cloud-based which is ideal if you don’t want the overhead of managing your own IT systems.
Per seat licensing can restrict the adoption of Smart Meetings when not all potential users have the same level of usage. Typically, if users have one meeting a week, they can easily justify the monthly license. Some organisations take the view that provided the average usage in a meeting a week they will let all users have access to the system.
Paying for meetings based on usage has the advantage that you can give access to the capability across your whole organisation as required. Providers offering software and expect the customer to install it on their own infrastructure, which can be installed on-premise or private cloud.
The model is only viable for the medium to a large organisation with the requirement for 10+ concurrent users. This will, dependent on usage patterns provide enough capacity for 50-250 users. The level of concurrency is typically calculated during a pilot phase and can easily be adjusted up if required, but not normally below the 10 base licenses.
A key capability with any Smart meeting solution is the ability to schedule meetings with the participants, there are several approaches to this. Below are the most common approaches used, but your circumstances may need a combination of them to meet your requirements:
The simplest option is to provide users with a webpage to schedule meetings. The organiser enters details for each participant, typically, (Name, e-mails address) and the date/time and each participant receive a calendar invitation with details of how to access the meeting. This approach is preferred by smaller companies who don’t want the overhead of integration.
The simplest approach is to use a “plugin” for your calendar application, for example, Outlook. When user books a meeting they just specify it is a smart meeting and the details of how to access the meeting are automatically added to the meeting invitation. All the organisation/user needs to do is install and configure the plugin for each user. The complexity involved will depend upon the calendar application and if it is cloud or desktop based.
Customer relationship Management (CRM)
Many organisations use a CRM application to store details of their customers and clients with whom they have meetings. For users of the CRM it is far more convenient for them if they can simply use the existing CRM capability to schedule meetings, and then have the option to make it “Smart”.
To implement this capability the CRM must use the APIs provided by the Smart Meeting provider, the cost and effort will depend on the capabilities that are to be integrated. For example:
- Uploading and downloading documents
- Monitoring the progress of a meeting and the actions that take place
- Single Sign-on and 2-factor authentication
- Creation and modification of user accounts
- Creation and modification of meetings
Each provider will have a different set of capabilities and use different APIs, therefore it is important to understand what you need now and plan to use in the future. The risk is that if you do not fully understand your requirements the wrong provider may be used and may have to be changed later incurring the cost of the integration and licenses again.
During a meeting documents will be uploaded, shared, edited and possibly signed with an e-signature. They may also be a recording of part or all the meeting capturing the video camera, screen sharing or audio of each participant. At some point the documents and videos may need to be archived to address the following limitations or requirements:
- They consume cloud storage space, which may expensive compared to local storage
- They need to be held in a read-only state to ensure they can be used as a business record
- They contain personal information and need to be held securely only allowing authorised users to access it
- They need to be kept together with other related documents
Cloud-based providers of Smart Meetings may offer on-line archive inclusive with their per-user monthly license and this may appeal to small organisations. Most will want to be able to manually download the documents and store them locally.
The preferred approach is for the documents to be held in the organisation’s own archive system and be accessed by the Smart Meeting solution. This ensures documents and videos are managed correctly and address the bullets listed above. There are many options to implement your own archive and the one that may be best for your organisation is not a simple decision. This is greatly influenced by your InfoSec policies.
When using a solution that may contain personal data and the potential reputational and financial risk if data is lost or accessed by unauthorised people, it is no wonder that risk and compliance officers must be involved.
The implementation of a solution on-premise reduces the risks and simplifies the InfoSec compliance assessment. If you use a cloud-based solution it is advised that you perform a full InfoSec assessment and fully understand how your data is protected while in transit and at rest.
GDPR and the need to keep personal data within the EEA has raised some concerns as many of the providers are based outside the EEA or have some of their data centres outside. You may need to seek assurances that your data will not leave the EEA, or if it does it is held in an encrypted form.