Friday, May 18, 2007

Rich-Media Collaboration: Voice+Video+Web Conferencing

I always mention that the general business model is getting global (now I say it's also getting green, but that is something for a future posting). Some proof is that we have a global work-force, mobile workers, and we have to be faster than ever to be competitive. This time, I want to talk a little bit about how to collaborate more effectively: thru Rich-Media Collaboration mechanisms.

There are three types of conferencing solutions that a business can have:

  1. Adhoc: is used when you want to conference on the spot. For example, when you want a three party phone conversation, you call one person, and then click the "Conference" button and call a third person to join. Cellphone companies and telcos call it three-way-calling. Although, with Adhoc conferences you can have more than three people. The idea is that it is a "push" effect, where the user generates the conferences on the spot.
  2. Reservationless: is used for when you all agree to virtually "meet at a conference room". In other words, all participants call a specific telephone number, and join the conference.
  3. Scheduled: This is what is mostly used in a company. The meeting organizer generates an invitation that gets sent to everyone, for a specific time/date. Then everyone calls the meeting phone number at that specific time. For example, you can integrate it with Outlook or Lotus Notes.
Traditionally, when we think of a teleconference, we think about a voice conference. When we have IP as the foundation network, we can enhance the experience endlessly. Now we can introduce, not only video into the picture; but we can also have Web collaboration to create a full virtual conferencing environment.

If we go in order of "user experience" or "look-and-feel", we have (1) voice conference, (2) web collaboration, (3) Video conference and, finally, (4) TelePresence. Most companies today get to a level 2, with something like WebEx.

The principal benefits of having a full-blown virtual collaboration space are:
  • Enables organizations to communicate more effectively and streamline business processes
  • Moving on-network implies key cost savings and productivity enabler
  • Reduced travel: Increase sales, support, meeting, and training effectiveness

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