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10/21/2005
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The Results Are In!

Well, not completely. But, the first segment of the user population I am polling for business requirements has submitted their desired features and functions for online collaborative environments. The results were surprising given the mixed demographic. Blogs and wikis ranked low on the list, while calendars and calendar reminders topped the business requirements.

The 43 respondents (so far) represent the diverse regional interests of the IEEE – local volunteers from all around the world. The participants who were new to the concept of collaborating online via a multi-tool platform thought online communities would be ideal to use for conducting IEEE business across the wide expanses of their territories. They liked the idea of being able to work on documents collaboratively and being able to send automated reminders to their members when a milestone or an important meeting approaches.

The survey respondents ranked the following features and functions as their top choices (highest to lowest):

  • Calendars
  • Calendar reminders
  • Whiteboard/web conferencing
  • Search
  • Announcement area
  • Databases
  • File sharing
  • Mailing lists
  • Integration with IEEE Member database

Meeting the end users in person was particularly useful because I could field their questions about the current technology we use, Ramius’ CommunityZero platform. I also had the ability to address some of the issues raised by experienced users.

Many of our regional delegates from outside the continent of North America advocated incorporating VOIP in our online communities. However, since there is no standard for VOIP as of yet, we will wait on enabling the technology until the standard emerges. Of course, it would be more than just convenient if one should emerge from IEEE.

I predict that when I poll staff and more student members, the rankings of features and functions will filter differently. However, I still expect to see web conferencing near the top of the list.

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