Jonathan Katz writes in the online edition of Industry Week about the convergence of conferencing solutions. I talked a little about this recently in reviewing this week's announcement of cooperation between AOL and WebEx. The smart money says that only three major players have the oomph at the moment to make this convergence work. AOL through its lower-end market dominance and ubiquitous AOL Instant Messenger is in the game as we have seen. Microsoft is putting a lot of development power behind its Office Live solution suite (as mentioned in my entry Something's In The Air). And IBM keeps trying to figure out how to integrate its acquisition-fed mishmash of Lotus Sametime, Domino, Workplace, WebSphere, etc. to create a unified enterprise solution. I could see Google, Yahoo, or MSN getting peripherally involved in this space, but they don't have any real collaboration power right now, so we'd need to see some more mergers and acquisitions before they would be contenders.
A few web conferencing companies have pursued the integrated collaboration arena as their niche. SiteScape offers an entire set of tools to help employees integrate web conferencing with document management and workflow. I haven't seen anybody else competing on that particular combination of specialties. Groove Networks meshes internal web meetings with file sharing, meeting and project management, data and process sharing, calendaring, and messaging.
This is a huge application area just waiting to be tapped. It's going to be interesting to watch developments over the next few years.