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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Goin' to Meetin'

One of the things I'll be talking about from time to time is online collaboration, as MEMBERS ONLY SOFTWARE explores new tools to expedite work among our teams and with our clients. Lately we've been very excited about GoToMeeting, a Citrix service for online meetings and presentations. We've been using it for presentations to prospective users, training sessions, as well as testing and walkthru sessions with clients. And at least one of our clients has gotten so excited abot using it with us that they are considering using it for all their in-house training sessions.

GoToMeeting is a real example of Less is More. Prior to trying out GoToMeeting, we had evaluated and used to other Web-based meeting tools, WebEx and Avecomm. Both of these products charge more and provide significantly more functionality than GoToMeeting. But the additional functionality was the problem, from my point of view. There were a carload of features: you had to learn how to use them and when to use to use them. You had to remember to set them up. GoToMeeting seems to provide a much more natural interface, allowing the presenter to share his or her desktop with up to twenty-five participants.

For example, Webex provides a "WhiteBoard" for setting up the meeting agenda on. GoToMeeting does not. But you can create the agenda in Word, or Powerpoint, and have it on the screen as participants join. Webex has a special format for showing Powerpoint presentations. They even provide a utility for putting your powerpoint into this format. With GoToMeeting, you just show your Powerpoint.

And GoToMeeting allows the meeting organizer to easily change who the presenter is, so in the course of a meeting you can be working off of one person's desktop, and then another. I can show you how a new MEMBERS ONLY feature works, then take control of your pc and install it, then watch you use it on your system. This is a tool for real collaboration.

Another big selling point is GoToMeeting's all-you-can-eat pricing model. Instead of paying by the minute, your subscription gives you unlimited minutes - of both the phone conferencing system and the web-based presentation system. This encourages rather than discourages use - and has led us to work online presentations into our collaborative style. At the drop of a hat, I can call a client and say, "So what do you think of this new report" right off of my desktop without having to upload or install it anywhere.

GoToMeeting's version 2.0, which just appeared as I was finishing up this entry, adds a feature I'd been missing. Some of the other online meeting services have long provided annotation tools - tools to mark up a screen while you are showiing it. Its very nice during on online training to highlight a button, for example, or draw an arrow pointing to a value in a report. GoToMeeting as finally added limited annotation capability.

But if you want to add truly flexible screen annotations to your online trainings, you might want to look at the Milori Training Tools. These let you generate a surprising array of effects on your screen to augment your presentations. Besides annotating a form, you can generate an effect that shows the user that you have pressed a function key or clicked with the mouse.

Avecomm has a feature I'd like to see in GoToMeeting as well - support for voice over IP. Citrix says its coming.


Comments on "Goin' to Meetin'"


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