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July 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 7
Integrator’s Corner

Worth the Bandwidth after All: Rethinking Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools

Every business wants a competitive edge. There is always a demand to use technology for faster communication with more data. However, the greatest business tool of tomorrow is not more speed, more storage or faster processing; it’s Web 2.0 applications that leverage the power of collaboration.

Collaboration is more than peeking around your cube to ask coworkers a question or writing your own blog … it’s the ability to simultaneously, and globally, interact in an online environment to solve a problem, build a new product or work with customers in unprecedented ways.

Modern business has taken its next cue from the YouTube (News - Alert)-sharing and instant messaging Generation Y, which grew up using IM to communicate, mash-ups for homework research and MySpace to socialize with their friends. While these applications and services have traditionally been a nuisance on corporate networks, their true power as a business tool is just now being realized. It’s ironic; we’ve spent the last seven years trying to eliminate IM and social networking sites from corporate networks. Now, these collaboration tools may give any business the competitive advantage it’s looking for.

The next generation of the Internet, Web 2.0, brings a collective intelligence to the user, leveraging the power of many, anytime, anywhere. What’s the big deal? Imagine how your company handles a customer support call today. With email and knowledgebase applications, the communication between support staff could be described as “serial”, with information forwarded from one person to the next in a somewhat static environment. Maybe someone in the critical path to resolve the problem is on vacation and nobody knows that. The time required to resolve the issue can increase dramatically; meanwhile, your customer is waiting for an answer. Sound familiar?

Now imagine this same scenario in a Web 2.0 environment that leverages the power of collaboration. Your customer doesn’t reach a single representative but an online, interactive community that uses voice and video to present the customer’s problem. The support application is presence-aware and knows who is available, no matter where they are, to support the customer and instantly brings them into the session. The product experts immediately code a solution to resolve the customer issue and push the code update down to the client in minutes.

Sound too good to be true? It’s happening now. Industry leaders have new collaboration applications that make this vision a reality. While they are still early in their development cycle, the capabilities are impressive and offer a new generation a new way to do business. IT

Joel A. Pogar, is Director of Network and Security Solutions at Forsythe. He has 20 years of experience in telecom, networking and IT security.

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