Microsoft’s BPOS: Cloud Computing’s Silver Lining?

Four At The Core: Office Live Meeting

Office Live Meeting is a real-time conferencing and collaboration platform. Ever tried a WebEx conference? Mix up online slide presentations, online whiteboard, application sharing, and desktop sharing and you’ve pretty much got Live Meeting.

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. Live Meeting can also handle VoIP, PSTN audio conferencing 800 numbers, and video, both as pre-recorded content for streaming as well as from Web cam feeds. With these factored in, the need for company travel might plummet. After all, how many conferences does a company need at which people sit in a dark room to watch PowerPoint presentations and IM on their phones under the table? Ditch all that travel time, use tools in a platform like Live Meeting to make things more streamlined and engaging, and let people get back to work in minutes rather than hours or days. Moreover, the session will be recorded for future reference so that participant input can become part of the educational process for subsequent viewers.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t value in face-to-face meetings, but at each occasion, managers should ask what medium will achieve the most benefit for the group. If the meeting is about building relationships, then, by all means shake hands, slap backs, grab drinks, and do some team exercises. But if the purpose is to convey information, a platform like Live Meeting may be both more effective and more economical. Anyone who’s ever sat in a lecture hall knows that people in groups hate being singled out and called on. But with Live Meeting, participants can not only fill out post-meeting surveys but also take comprehension tests in a variety of formats without any sense of social pressure.

Don’t get the impression that Live Meeting is only for big presentations, though. We’ve used the software simply as a way for two workers in separate offices to review and edit a Word document together in real-time. That may sound like a paltry task in comparison, but the amount of time and confusion it can save is huge. How much productivity gets lost when a correction fails to get placed in a project and the omission only gets discovered later? We shudder to think how often this happens. Or how many times have you found yourself saying to a remote colleague, “If I could just show you this thing on my screen, you’d understand immediately!” Live Meeting fixes that.

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