The digital collaborative software / service market is just starting to heat up, I believe – with the proliferation of broadband (coupled with the rising cost of travel). New services are popping up every month, making it much more likely that non-technical industries will start adjusting to adopt this new, largely efficient form of communication. New?! Hasn’t it been around forever? Seemingly so, but I’m still trying to get people to understand that you don’t need to be physically in the same room as someone else to get a point across to them.
Together, with a handful of friends from our live channel, we’ve come up with a list of cases for online meeting and collaboration. A big THANK YOU to Kat, Fort, Freekie, CCMike and everyone else who contributed ideas for this post. You need not be geek to apply:
- Teachers could visually demonstrate their curriculum to students without having to travel. Also in IT Education, online meeting software enables instructors to present Powerpoint presentations, couple that with product demonstrations.
- Interactive remote delivery… the teacher leads the meeting, and shows the students how do something. The Instructor can then give control to various students, and let them interact with it. This would allow the entire class to benefit from seeing other students actually getting to use the object on the teachers’ desktop.
- Students could use it as a study tool. When your study-buddy doesn’t live next door, using an online meeting allows you both to interact with each other easily.
- Tutoring… allow the student to attempt the task themselves. The tutor can step and and show them how it is done using the visuals if necessary.
- Meetings could be held amongst teachers from their homes if needed. This could include “In-Service” days, extra training, etc.
- Online collaboration software would excel in helping to “home school” those students who may be ill and unable to attend regular classes. They could participate in their class via the Teachers’ desktop.
- A Teacher could hold virtual office hours. This would allow students and teachers time to meet and discuss problems and resolve issues with homework when actual time in an office setting isn’t possible. This benefits the teacher greatly, since they won’t have to extend their hours in the classroom. The meetings could be held from the Teacher’s home.
- Online meeting software could be used for distance lessons for students outside normal bus routes.
- Business meeting for Staff and Administrators could be held via an online meeting, rather than them having to go out in bad weather or spend gas money.
- Students could retrieve lesson plans online, thereby doing away with “I was sick and didn’t know what the assignments were!”.
- Using an online meeting could save on travel expenses for wide-spread schools and staff and the distribution of teaching materials.
- Sent in from one of our community members: “One of the areas as a part-time evening student is the fact that – well – this is the only time I get to deal with fellow classmates and lecturers or tutors is in the evening. There is a gaping hole that could be capitalized on: a ‘student-friendly’ platform to collaborate on projects, whether they are group-based or final-year-solo dissertations that are supervised by a tutor. How OFTEN I have felt the need of a white board when I am writing an email to a tutor explaining something in 1200 words when simple voice and a graphics tablet would be far far far easier.”.
- Online meeting software could be used for internal training of new initiatives and products.
- Ordinarily, business meetings usually need to be scheduled well in advance, as they require everyone to be in the same place at the same time. Online meetings can be setup in seconds to deal with emergency issues… and can add and remove members from the meeting without being disruptive.
- Companies could save on travel costs. Instead of paying for employees to travel, eat and stay in a hotel to attend meetings in other locations, a desktop-sharing online meeting could be used instead.
- A live online meeting would come in very handy when it’s time to demonstrate a new product to an existing (or even new) customer.
- An online meeting could be used to give competency tests to potential employees, without them having to come into the workplace. This would let the test-giver ensure the applicant is giving correct information without “cheating” or getting help with the answers.
Personal and Telecommuting
- An online meeting would greatly eliminate the need to travel into the office to view a Powerpoint or sales presentation.
- Having online meetings would allow companies to demonstrate software and scenarios visually that cannot typically be done over the phone. This will allow the Telecommuter to spend that time at home… getting more work done (since they aren’t traveling), and saving them money on gas, tolls and the like.
- You could have online meetings with distant relatives to keep them up-to-date on your life. Share videos, photos and even documents with each other easily.
- Get your friends together using an online meeting if you can’t all schedule time away from home.
- An online meeting can be used to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain product or principle to a potential client.
- As with large companies, Contractors could use online meeting software to conduct business at times, saving on travel costs.
- Many independent contracts do not have a regular office, usually they have only a home office (or room in their home). Online meeting software allows them to still collaborate in “real time” with their customers, without having the customers come to your home… which can make you appear unprofessional.
- Many Independent Contractors service customers from out of state, or even Internationally. Online meetings will make it much easier for both parties to conduct business quickly and efficiently with each other.
- Desktop sharing software can be used to diagnose IT issues with client hardware.
- Many people enjoy being able to test new software and discuss it openly amongst themselves. Using a meeting software such as these would allow them to not only discuss their opinions, but also show each other specific example quickly and easily.
- Small businesses would benefit financially the most from using online meeting software, as they may not have huge travel budgets. They can perform virtual sales calls to pitch their product or service.
- As with larger businesses, small companies can use an online meeting to demonstrate their capabilities and products to a potential customer.
- Small businesses are sometimes served better by not having all of their resources at a single location. This makes a traditional meeting impossible, and flying people in from out of town is uneconomical. Online meetings save time and money.
- A desktop-sharing application could be used by emergency departments (fire, police) to coordinate large-scale efforts, such as with a forest fire. Using a notebook and wireless signal, the person in command on-site could easily communicate back and forth, being able to see where everything has been directed. Equipment could be ordered in, and support people could be maneuvered easier.
- Businesses with a “home base”, such as truss design and construction, could coordinate with their on-site crew at any given time. If changes are made to the blueprints, an online sharing meeting client could be used to communicate and show those changes to the crew Foreman.
- The medical profession could actually make excellent use of online meeting software. Training could be given, patient care could be collaborated on using diagrams and such, and even Administrative or patient-care meetings could be conducted amongst people in several locations.
- In many places, Government offices are located in separate buildings from each other. Think of the amount of money the taxpayers would save if we no longer had to pay for travel expenses (and lunches!) for government officials. They could instead use a collaborative online meeting software, thereby conducting business much faster… and much more inexpensively.
In the interest of transparency, Citrix is one of our sponsors (with GoToMeeting and an exclusive sign-up process for my friends) – but we compiled this list as an independent exercise. After all, what good are these Internet-based tools if nobody knows why they’d want to use them? Mashable has quite an exhaustive list of links.
So, what online collaboration tools do you use, where, and why?