Monday, March 21, 2011

Web conferencing is a piece, not the whole pie

It's increasingly apparent that basic Web conferencing (from companies such as WebEx and GoToMeeting) is becoming a free commodity that isn't highly valued anymore as a standalone product.

I recently read about a new AMI-Partners report on eWeek that found more than 25 percent of small businesses in the U.S. would deploy unified communications integrated with SaaS offerings as paid services, if they were available from a single provider.

These companies are looking for not just a communications tool, but rather a communications and collaboration technology solution set. While this study looked at small businesses, we're seeing a similar trend happening among large companies and institutions as well.

In ProtonMedia's experience with life sciences companies, for instance, we're finding employees and physicians increasingly want to be able to choose how they communicate and collaborate. As I touched upon in the comment I left on the eWeek article, Web conferencing is just one of many ways they're looking to do this.

They also want to be able to share and collaboratively edit documents, voice chat, text chat, etc. -- all from one user interface. Providing this context to communications is the driver of the features and functionality we continue to bake into ProtoSphere.

The end game is a way to communicate and collaborate around a unified learning experience. For instance, KOL activities, knowledge transfer, scientific data exchange, e-Learning, compliancy, and onboarding, as well as R&D collaboration. In these situations, we let users capitalize on multiple data feeds and content in a visual environment that fosters social engagement around the topics of interest.

But more than that, we help them separate the signal from the noise. It's one thing to provide people with access to lots of data. It's another thing to provide an environment where they're able to focus on the data that matters to them and make informed decisions as a result.

Writer Nathan Eddy cites some other examples of this trend in his article, and provides some analysis of what it means for companies. Click over to eWeek to read more. Thanks for the coverage, Nathan.

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