Think of all the time and confusion that could have been saved in the past when PC support problems had to be explained over the phone. Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler if you could have shown the problem directly to the IT support technician? Naturally it would have made the technician’s job a lot easier as well. Screen Sharing is a network-based technology that allows a user to transmit and share the desktop content from their computer screen on to the screens of other connected users. Anything that the presenter sees on their or any action they take, is then visible to the remote viewer on their own desktop in real-time.
This is used for much more than just remote assistance. Businesses use screen sharing software for online meetings, trainings, web conferencing, sales demos, and other collaboration purposes. It is a great way to have a business meeting without spending the time and money involved with traveling.
Even though the technology that allows users to remotely share their screen has existed for quite a long time, it was only in the last two decades or so that this technology has gained major traction in the corporate environment due to the many benefits and its safety and ease of use. Screen sharing software as we know it today has evolved from basic remote log-in technology to become a major component of how businesses operate, and has changed the landscape of how corporations all over the world operate. Screen sharing and remote desktop software have greatly contributed towards the development of telecommuting, web collaboration, and remote support technologies.
Screen Sharing Technology
Screen sharing technology enables us to share desktop content from our computers in real-time over the Internet to other people. This includes sharing any application from the presenter’s computer such as web browsers, documents, spreadsheets, etc. Screen sharing is usually done through the use of a graphical terminal emulator (a program that emulates a video terminal through a shell or text terminal) that allows the other user or users to access the display of a computer and to see the contents of a user’s display the same way the original user does. Once the remote desktop connection has been established, the user can choose to switch control of the remote computer, talk over VoIP, transfer files, access the whiteboard, chat between users, record the screen sharing, and collaborate in real time.
Screen sharing works by sending packets of information from a host computer to one or more remote computers while describing the contents of the screen at all times. This sort of technology is known as Virtual Network Computing or VNC. This client/server model usually takes place either through a stand-alone application or a web-browser, and in a typical screen-sharing session, all keystrokes and mouse clicks are registered as if the client were actually performing tasks on the end-user computer.
The first step in establishing a screen sharing session usually involves getting the client’s permission to connect to the host. Once the client computer has been cleared, the remote connection can be established through a native OS application or a web browser. Tight corporate network settings and firewalls made it difficult to establish this connection in the past, however the security issues involved with desktop sharing and screen-sharing have been dramatically reduced over the past years as screen sharing software has become more polished and secure.
Screen Sharing Applications
In the first paragraph, we highlighted the benefits of screen sharing as a remote support solution. Naturally the benefits of screen sharing go a lot further than a bit of remote pc support. Today a vast number of different companies and industries are benefiting from the ease and functionality of screen sharing. Consider large corporations where colleagues & clients are separated by state borders and oceans. Screen sharing is beneficial here for providing an easy means to interact and collaborate together, despite being in distant locations. Freelance teachers are educating their pupils quickly and effortlessly by using screen sharing within distance learning software. Likewise for online social meeting places where users need that little something extra to bring them closer together. University students using screen sharing and meeting software to collaborate on a group project… and the list goes on. Below you will find details on the some of the main use cases and applications for screen sharing software.
Web Conferences and Training
Screen sharing software has become an important component of online conferencing, web seminars, and training due to the fact that it allows users to congregate over an internet connection and present any application to a distant audience from any location. This technology has been successfully and seamlessly implemented in many companies and government sectors as a cost-cutting measure due to its effectiveness as a training, collaboration and support tool.
Companies such as Apple, Intel and Hewlett-Packard have successfully implemented web conferences and web training into their environment as a means to reduce costs, going as far as reducing their training costs by 50 to 80%. Screen sharing software is especially effective in corporate environments for web conferences where the moderator can share his desktop with others who are attending the conference remotely. In a typical web conferencing scenario, multiple users can see the same screen at all times either through a stand-alone application or a browser-based application. Some of the features that are used in a typical web conference may include chatting, VoIP (voice over IP), whiteboard, recording, as well as other conferencing features.
Screen sharing software offers a valuable aid for companies and organizations when it comes to reducing training costs as it allows trainers and personnel to offer computer-based training over the internet to new hires, existing employees and potential candidates. This sort of training involves the creation of content that is focused around one or several topics and then adapted for online audiences through the use of additional multi-media content such as videos, images, charts, and recordings which can then during the online training. Instructor-led remote training considerably reduces the travel costs associated with traditional learning sessions while increasing employee productivity. This type of training is highly-valued in the corporate environment due to its convenience to learners and its ease of access. Another important feature of screen sharing software when it comes to online training and web conferencing is real-time annotating of documents. This allows teams to come together and edit documents in real time, rather than sending the files back and forth via multiple emails. The real-time nature of such collaboration is a strong benefit of screen sharing over several users editing files at different times via online document management systems.
Finally, one of the most common applications of screen sharing software is presentation sharing. This is when a presenter shares his screen to an individual or a group of users to display a slides-based presentation (typically PowerPoint presentations). This type of presentation usually involves only one presenter and is more restrictive in terms of collaboration and has become a core component of online meetings, web training, instructor-led training and seminars.
One of the most common applications in IT for screen sharing software is remote support. Remote support tools allow a technician, engineer, developer or other trained individuals to offer IT support over a network, thus eliminating the need for on-site visits. Screen sharing software and remote desktop software allows companies to offer quick, cost-effective and efficient support.
Remote support software offers IT departments and companies a practical solution for software troubleshooting, virus removal, software updating, file transfer and computer clean-up amongst many other applications.
Although some concerns about privacy do exist when it comes to screen sharing for remote support purposes, screen sharing software allows the user to regain control of his computer if needed. In fact, it is common place nowadays for the ultimate control to always remain within the hands of the client. Security measures are high and the client always maintains full control over the IT technician.
Real-time collaboration refers to when companies and groups meet online via screen sharing software to create, share and edit content pertaining to team projects over an internet connection. This umbrella term can also be used to describe the group of web, social and software tools that are used to improve the efficiency of tasks, customer satisfaction, corporate communication and increased sales and is an overall component of unified communications.
The use of screen-sharing software for real-time collaboration is especially important for teams that need to work together in a project but are unable to meet physically. Examples include, software developers and testers, graphic design and marketing teams, or sales teams and educators. This sort of collaboration (also known as web collaboration) allows members of a team or company to come together and work on a project at the same time thus eliminating the need for on-site and face-to-face meetings.
Sales Demos and Software Trials
The use of screen sharing software amongst software sales teams has become an efficient way of showcasing software (as well as other products/services) to a potential client who wishes to test software before a potential purchase. A remote sales demo offers a cost-efficient method to communicate the functionality and features of software in hopes of closing a sales deal faster than an on-site visit would enable. Screen sharing software can be used to communicate with a sales representative and to assess the needs of a client as well as to try the product itself. In the past, the only way to effectively demo a product was face to face. However, with the popularization of screen sharing software, sales teams now have a way to quickly showcase their product while keeping costs low.
Some of the other use cases commonly associated with screen sharing software such as online meetings, web presentations and web collaboration are an important component of making sales demos today. The prospective client is able to express his questions or concerns while looking at the software, thus creating the perfect environment for both the sales person and the potential client.
One of the most cited concerns when it comes to screen sharing software is security. While there have been a few noted cases where exploits in screen-sharing and remoted desktop applications have been abused, the development of new browser-based screen sharing solutions eliminates most of these security and private concerns due to the limited amount of tasks that can be performed without the administrator’s consent.
Another problem that seems to have disappeared as screen-sharing technologies continue to evolve is the difficulty and skill-level required to remotely access another computer. Corporate network settings and firewalls made it difficult in the past to connect to another computer. Today, software development has allowed for the creation of easy-to-use, yet safe and private solutions when it comes to accessing another computer’s screen. Most screen-sharing applications nowadays allow the user to quickly regain control of his desktop in case the control is granted to one of the remote users. The fact that both parties can see the files being manipulated have also helped eliminate most of the privacy concerns, especially when it comes to company private data and insider information.
As stated above, these concerns have been mostly dismissed in recent years due to the advancement of anti-malware technology and the overall increase of awareness of the average computer user. Nowadays, companies all over the world rely on screen-sharing software to grow their businesses, prospect new sales opportunities, collaborate together on new projects and to conduct their online meetings.
Regardless of the use case or application, whether you’re a regular computer greenhorn or an experience host of online meetings, today screen sharing is considered to be an easy-to-use solution within the online collaboration world. Following a quick and painless download (usually just a couple of megabytes), users are ready to use the screen sharing software and host their first remote support session or web conference within minutes.