Use Enterprise 2.0 to save money – web conferencing

istock_000002523894smallAs with all industries at the moment, Enterprise 2.0 is trying to reposition itself as the one essential thing that you need in a recession. Michael Sampson wrote recently on how to manage your business in a recession, and one of his key points was to reduce costs using on-line meetings:

“Meetings that are more about co-creation of content than discussion and decision making can be supported through online meeting tools like Citrix GoToMeeting, LotusLive Meetings, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and many more (my personal favorite is Citrix GoToMeeting — it just always works!). Co-writing of documents, looking over an upcoming presentation, brainstorming about market opportunities, and more … all can be supported just as well through online meeting tools, for about $40 per month.”

I have used a variety of these sorts of systems, and in general they work well within an enterprise, until you want to involve people outside your firewall. Webinars are an excellent way to get your message out to key customers at very low cost if done correctly. If done incorrectly, they are a nightmare for both parties.

I’ve just come off a failed webinar powered by WebEx, which I understand is the market leader for these kind of things. In all fairness, I think virtually any webinar broadcast over the internet that I have attended has had huge problems (with the exception of Adobe Acrobat ConnectJive Software use this and it rocks, haven’t seen much uptake elsewhere though).

Two areas that are absolutely essential for successful marketing webinars (which didn’t happen today) are:

  1. The presentations must scale to the resolution of the webinar attendee. Many organisations with several people attending the webinar may want to meet together and project (800 x 600) the content
  2. The audio must work. In all the webinars I’ve attended this fails so often. I know that Lotus Sametime and Microsoft OCS suffer as they use ports that most corporate firewalls don’t open. If you’re offering a webinar to keep costs low then making me dial-in doesn’t work.

Interestingly, more lightweight, SaaS solutions such as Lotus Live, and Dimdim (who get bonus points for reaching out to me via Twitter minutes after posting my frustration with WebEx) seem to be coming out on the market, and as mentioned previously I was very impressed with Adobe Connect.

Dimdim’s tagline is “Web conferencing that just works” – that’s what we need! I’d be interested if anyone has used them, and may give them a try next time I host a webinar, so that my customers don’t go and blog about not being able to listen!

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3 Responses to Use Enterprise 2.0 to save money – web conferencing

  1. The company I work for, Ephox, does a lot of demos over the web using GotoMeeting and a dial-in number. We use BT’s international freecall numbers so that participants can dial in with a free call – far more succesful and reliable than using any kind of internet-based audio.

    The key to making it work is careful preparation, knowing what your system can and can’t do and not trying to use internet-based audio. :)

  2. Jon Mell says:

    Thanks Adrian – but surely in 2009 internet audio should work? Freecall numbers are great but don’t they incur extra cost for you?

  3. Jon,
    Yes we wind up paying for the freecall number but at least it works. When your company’s sales are driven by webinars you really shouldn’t be cheap on the technology behind them. It’s also nowhere near as expensive as you might think – though still definitely not cheap.

    I was interested in DimDim though and while it has some cool features found it to be *really* slow at updating the actual screen which tends to be a common problem in teh flash based screen sharing systems, not really sure why. Adobe Connect seems to be an exception there and seemed to perform quite well. I’d say DimDim is one of the worse install experiences too – though that only applies if you’re sharing your screen so it’s ok but it does require manual software installation.

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