What Is an Electronic Meeting System?

An electronic meeting system (EMS) is software intended to provoke problem-solving and decision-making within a group. Standard features of electronic meeting systems include electronic brainstorming (generally in an anonymous format), parallel processing, discussion tools, and voting. The unique features of an EMS overcome the limitations of traditional face-to-face meetings such as lack of participation, criticism, and domination of the proceedings by only a few members.

An e-meeting is any meeting that takes place online. Electronic meeting systems (EMS) can provide the software platform to facilitate e-meetings, enabling greater participation from workers who may be far-flung geographically or reticent to participate in a traditional company meeting.

Understanding Electronic Meeting Systems

Electronic meeting systems (EMS) are distinct from web or video conferencing meeting systems, though both have some features in common and complement each other in the modern workplace. An EMS offers many advantages to organizations and users, such as a reduction in travel costs, increased participation, due to the anonymity the system offers, fewer disruptions compared to meeting in a busy office, and better participant availability.

These advantages more than offset the major drawback of such systems, which is a lack of personal contact and human interaction. There are clear advantages to being able to read body language and make eye contact when communicating with other people. An EMS typically blocks or at least limits this type of interaction. One other drawback to an EMS is the risk of technological or electronic interruptions, should the digital connectivity become unstable or even give out.

Key Takeaways

  • An electronic meeting system (EMS) is a software platform that provides a digital meeting space for group collaboration, problem-solving, and providing anonymous feedback, among other features.
  • Electronic meeting systems help companies by cutting down on travel costs and by making participation easier because everything's anonymous and accessible from wherever the worker is located.
  • An EMS can never replace the personal contact that a more traditional meeting might facilitate; an EMS is also vulnerable if a facility is having connectivity issues, which would make communicating online difficult.

Example of Electronic Meeting Systems

An EMS can be designed for limited or specific purposes such as training and sales presentations. An example of potential use for an EMS would be when a company plans to launch a new product and wants to test the potential appeal among employees who have the background and knowledge to be objective about the proposed offering. Using an electronic meeting system, participants can share opinions and criticism free of potential conflicts and group-think that might otherwise affect responses.