TechWatch: Virtual Meetings

With telecommuting rising in popularity and the workforce becoming truly global, conference calls are now an accepted means of doing business. But sometimes a conference call just isn’t enough. Two good articles, the first targeted to non-profits, the second (though expensive) an updated approach in the private sector.

A Few Good Online Conferencing Tools (Idealware)

Sometimes you need to show visuals to go along with the conversation—maybe you want everyone to see the same document over the Web, in real time, in order to mark it up together or share calculations. Maybe you want to show your computer screen to demonstrate a particular application or Web site. Or maybe you even want to go a step further and conduct a more formal online seminar—sometimes called a Webinar—with tools that let you show slides or your computer screen, conduct polls or even let your participants talk to each other in virtual “breakout rooms.”

As Travel Costs Rise, More Meetings Go Virtual (New York Times)

As travel costs rise and airlines cut service, companies large and small are rethinking the face-to-face meeting — and business travel as well. At the same time, the technology has matured to the point where it is often practical, affordable and more productive to move digital bits instead of bodies.

The emerging trend, analysts say, goes well beyond a reaction to rising travel costs and a weakening economy. “These technology tools are going to change the way corporations think about travel and work in the long run,” an analyst at Forrester Research, Claire Schooley, said.

Past predictions that technology could replace travel have been frequent and premature. The main difference today, analysts say, is that the technology is finally catching up to its promise. No single breakthrough explains the progress, but rather a series of step-by-step advances — and steady investment — in telecommunications networks, software and computer processing.