AS WE LOOK INTO the double barrel of fiscal austerity, I am thankful that video conferencing and online meetings have finally come of age. Several times a week, I attend meetings with groups of my colleagues 30 miles away. Those meetings happen with a dedicated ISDN connection and Polyspan hardware. I meet up with smaller groups (no more than six seats) by using Online Meeting Rooms, a web browser solution (shown at left on an old laptop) that does more than show talking heads. Since broadband has become a dependable business resource around most of the places where I work, I'm able to carry Online Meeting Rooms with me aboard my laptop. I've arranged impromptu meetings with the system because all you need is broadband, a browser, and a way to hear the people at the other end. Most of the people who connect with me also have webcams so it's an easy process.
For those businesses who think they have to spend more than $200,000 for a fully-configured meeting suite--think again. We don't spend more than $10,000 annually for our full-duplex Online Meeting Rooms solution. That's an education license but the point worth noting is online meetings conducted through broadband browsers will save you big clumps of time and money.
According to some literature I have from Text 100 in Dublin, IBM first unveiled video conferencing in 1964. But it took big leaps in connectivity and compression to make video meetings viable for most people. Now, with big financial pressures facing all businesses, it's probably time to view virtual meetings as an important strategic resource. Get the solution right, and you save thousands of dollars a month on travel and opportunity costs.