Getting Together: Webinar Systems and the Search for a Collaborative Framework

I came to the realization a few months ago, while tuning into a “webinar,” that the experience was much like some of the larger conference calls I was included in at Dell. We used MS LiveMeeting for the visuals and usually dialed in for the audio. Setting up an online meeting space and scheduling and running LiveMeeting conference calls was a snap. And for me, set the standard for what to expect.

So jumping forward to today, I’ve used GoToMeeting as well to set up a call, but had some problems getting it all to work properly. And at the moment I am waiting for a webinar (or webcast, what’s the difference?) with Scott Berkun and they are using Cisco’s WebEx. It looks great.

Screen shot 2009-12-02 at 1.08.41 PM

Cisco has made it known that WebEx was going to be their starting point for their salesforce-like development platform for interactive technologies. And I have to say this implementation looks great. My previous experience in setting up WebEx sessions is that is was not very intuitive.

So what more is needed for a collaborative presentation space? I am looking for ideas on integrating work and creative review across several time zones and I am curious what people have had success with. Some of the things I’ve tried with varying degrees of success are:

  • Basecamp from 37 Signals
  • Sharepoint
  • LiveMeeting
  • GoToMeeting
  • Citrix
  • Dropbox
  • WordPress w/ plugins
  • MediaWiki
  • Google docs
  • Zoho Office
  • Telligent’s Community Server
  • SocialText
  • Jive

Is a shared desktop the way to go?

I have several primary requirements for an online collaborative system.

  1. Presentation system and ability to assign presenters and markup (whiteboard) the presentation as it goes along
  2. Document sharing and persistent instance where the assets for a project or team can be found 24/7 from anywhere (something that doesn’t require VPN-like access would be best)
  3. Threaded discussion areas related to topics or projects (moderated or not)
  4. Milestones and calendar tracking
  5. Task assignment and accountability reporting

But far and away my most sought after feature for guiding projects and teams who are in different locations is: 6. An issue tracking system that allows the conversation to be threaded using traditional email. There is nothing worse than trying to manage deadlines or content assets via email. Especially when the volume, due to multiple projects, gets above 30 emails an hour.

So once I was part of a system using RoundUp the python-based “issue tracker” system. And it worked beautifully. The executives, who were unlikely to ever visit the “tool” could respond directly via “reply all” and it would get captured and threaded in the relevant discussion. And then when a new person to the project or sub-project arrived on the job, they could get “everything” they needed in one place. This system also allowed file attachments, that essentially functioned as pointers to data files on the server. [How many times have you asked someone not to email the file but to “put it on the server”?]

So as the Berkun web presentation runs on, I am aware of how I would like to participate both now and over the next few weeks [as if this were a project with milestones and deadlines] and it got me thinking about RoundUp and Basecamp and wishing I had access to a better integrated “platform” for collaboration.

If you have any ideas or “collaborative frameworks” please let me know either in the comments or by emailing me directly.

@jmacofearth
permalink: http://uber.la/2009/12/collaborative-framework/

Other Links:

Why Google+ Is Not Competing Against Facebook; The Google+ Platform Play
Imagine a place where your G-Mail, Voicemail, TXT, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, Google Docs, G-Chat, and the BIG ONE Google SEARCH are all living together under one roof, on one uber-iGoogle page.

Online Collaborator’s Toolkit: The Sharing Tools You Need to Web It Up!
The tools you need to collaborate and work with others across the great web divide.

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Musing, “Does Salesforce have any collaborative systems built on force.com?”

Update: Looking into Cisco’s WebEx platform I discovered this screen outlining their MOBILE apps! Now I’m leaning in their direction for sure. Right after I switch from my Blackberry 8900 to an iPhone. NICE GOING Cisco!

Screen shot 2009-12-02 at 10.01.25 PM

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