Oh, so much more to relate for the second half of the day at the Collaborative Technologies Conference. First things first... a big apology to Centra from Saba for intimating that they weren't present at the conference. I didn't see them at first because they were sharing a booth under the EMC2 logo. I talked to Gary Lombardo, the Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the Centra product. He played up the EMC Documentum partnership and said that Centra was the only web conferencing product to be EMC certified under the Designed For Documentum certification program (exclusivity not independently verified by yours truly, but then again, I certainly don't know of any others with the certification!). Saba has integrated Centra with the EMC eRoom product to enable users to create conferences from the eRoom interface and to use eRoom resources in the conference. While Centra is still a valid web conferencing product for general use, Saba is concentrating on positioning it for the e-Learning market.
I briefly mentioned Facilitate.com in my last post, saying that they were leading a session about running effective live face to face meetings. I had a chance to speak with Danuta McCall from Facilitate, who shared their vision and their methodology for structuring brainstorming sessions, structured agendas, and collaborative teamwork in meeting scenarios. They have a web-based software product that helps companies create structured agendas with collaborative questionnaires, opinion polls, and comment aggregators. They claim that using this kind of approach not only encourages participation and creativity, but shortens average meeting lengths (and I'm all for that!). Danuta's enthusiasm was infectious, but I wanted to know how their software could fit in with a web conferencing world. She came back with a quotable bon mot: "A bad meeting run as a web conference is still a bad meeting." She pointed out that since their software for interactive collaboration runs on the web, any web conferencing product that can push a web page would be suitable for driving to that point of the meeting. Say you start out with an informational presentation or a proposal, then start a brainstorming session to get feedback and see how the basics can be improved. Makes sense to me and using something built for the task has got to be more efficient than a generic Chat log in a web conferencing product.
Speaking of web conferencing products, I got back to Interwise and chatted with director of product marketing Bob Pierce. We went through so much that I'll probably need to do a focus piece on Interwise in a future post. The company is really pushing the flat fee/unlimited usage pricing model for web conferencing. They have their own international network of servers for hosted conferencing (the Interwise Global Expressway). Unlike some other vendors, they work all conferencing options (collaborative group meetings, one-to-many webinars, e-Learning sessions) from a single product, rather than selling a suite of specialized applications. They are also one of the increasingly common vendors offering integrated web presentation and audio (VOIP and/or telephone) through their own audio network.
This entry is getting too long for convenient one-bite consumption. Check out the next entry for more news from the show floor.