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3/23/2007
10:33 AM
Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
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On-Demand Conferencing Supports Presence-Based Communications

Companies today are facing several critical business challenges brought on by the increasingly virtual nature of their workplaces. More and more, employees are scattered across regions, nations, and continents—and yet they must be able to collaborate with one another, as well as with partners and customers, at any time and from anywhere. At the same time, both managers and employees want to keep travel to a minimum, since it’s only getting more difficult and more expensive, both in real dollars and in terms of lost productivity before, during and after the event.

Organizations need tools to help them lower operational costs while increasing productivity; support remote, geographically dispersed and mobile workers so they can perform as a single team; shrink decision cycles and times to market; and pursue new business opportunities by delivering faster, more efficient customer and partner interactions.

One of the best technologies for helping companies achieve these and other critical business goals is on-demand video conferencing, which allows for ad-hoc collaboration that’s easy to use and cost effective. On-demand conferencing lets employees meet on the fly, without making plans or reservations in advance. As a result, they can collaborate exactly when they need to, with whomever they need to, as soon as the need arises. So if a group of marketing employees is working on an imminent new-product launch, they can quickly start a collaborative session to discuss the particulars face to face; or, a team of research and development professionals might initiate a video conference with web collaboration, to share documents and drawings as they discuss the product’s particulars with the aid of video input. And thanks to new pricing models, they can do all this without worrying about skyrocketing costs.

With on-demand conferencing, the technology (the bridge port) does not need to be reserved, eliminating the need for a conferencing scheduling system or a conference operator. As a result, on-demand video conferences can be completely ad hoc, or they can be planned in advance and scheduled using Outlook or another calendaring tool. Either way, end users and IT administrators don’t need to think about the availability of the underlying technology.

Presence is one of the key enablers of on-demand conferencing, since it allows participants to see who’s available to collaborate in real time. If an employee needs to meet remotely with one or more co-workers, for instance, all she needs to do is check on their availability, then click to conference them into an audio, video or web collaboration session. Presence information can also be leveraged for room-based video conferencing, to help hosts select the right room for a conference depending on where attendees are located that day (or hour), then ping them to ask if (or when) they’re available to meet in the most appropriate room.

To learn more about the value of on-demand video conferencing, please join me for a Webinar (registration URL: http://ebroadcast.frost.com/hdondemand) on March 27 at 11am PT. We’ll discuss what it is and why it’s key to solving some of todays most immediate business challenges; how companies are integrating the technology into a larger communications infrastructure; and how to assess and achieve a strong return on investment. We’ll also present an in-depth Polycom case study, which includes some really terrific details about how the company is using video conferencing to drive productivity and improve business processes.

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