Web Conferencing: Keeping Tabs on Your Audience - InformationWeek

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9/26/2006
12:00 AM
Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
Commentary
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Web Conferencing: Keeping Tabs on Your Audience

Thanks to the expanding global workforce, heightened competition and the continued need to cut costs and drive productivity, companies today are facing myriad business communications challenges. To compete, organizations must improve the way their employees interact with customers, partners, suppliers and each other. Web collaboration is increasingly becoming an indispensable tool in accelerating business processes and collaboration while simultaneously reducing costs.

Web collaboration technologies let people and organizations meet online, present information, share data, and collaborate in a virtual environment. But one of the drawbacks of online collaboration is that you can’t easily tell how your audience is reacting to your message—or even whether they’re listening to it at all. New software from Citrix Online, GoToWebinar, offers a cool feature to alleviate that.

20060926turek01.gifThe real-time audience monitoring capabilities in GoToWebinar lets participants indicate their reaction to the presentation, which is valuable but not unique. What’s cool about this feature is the “attentive” meter, which tracks whether a participant has the Web event front and center on screen. As soon as someone pops into e-mail or IM to check messages, or starts working on an Office doc in the background of a Web conference, the attentive meter displays the change on screen. It’s very useful feedback for presenters, and it also lets sales and marketing personnel generate lead-qualification reports after the event, to target the hottest (i.e., most attentive) leads first.

I’d actually love to see the function in Citrix’s GoToMeeting product, as well. That tool enables smaller meetings for team collaboration. How nice would it be if you as a manger could tell whether your reports were actually paying attention at the meetings you call? Pretty nice, huh? It’s not there yet, but we can hope.

Other features I like about the hosted Citrix GoToMeeting products are their simplicity—it’s so easy to set up a Webinar, really anyone can do it, with fully branded invitations and collateral; the All-You-Can-Meet license plan, which gives users unlimited access to the technology—any number of meetings for up to 1000 people, with no overage charges; and the ability to record and reuse Webinars—up to 1GB via a partnership with Akamai for easy storage and deployment.
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