Video Conferencing

TechRepublic has had video conferencing (VC) equipment for many years, but 2005 was the first year my team and I consistently used the systems. This is due in large part to significant advancements in VC technology. It wasn’t too long ago that calls were placed over ISDN lines and could only be made through large, conference room systems. Today, we can make calls directly from our PCs via Ethernet and our VPN.

The TechRepublic Content Team has several members who telecommute. Even with a conference call system, this has always been a challenge during meetings. Seeing a person’s face conveys the tenor of their comments more effectively than audio-only conference calls.

Check out these links for some of the video conferencing equipment and solutions that we used in 2005:

In 2006 we’ll be examining more video conference equipment. Tandberg offers technology that allows the secure, seamless transmission of external VC calls based on e-mail address or phone number. This would eliminate the current problem of connecting to VC devices outside the LAN/WAN. I can’t wait to try it out.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is another technology that’s been around for several years, but that I only started heavily using this year. Communicating with remote team members was always possible via our telephone system and e-mail, but I always hated sending one sentence e-mails–just more mail to clean out of my mailbox. Phone calls also seem like overkill when it comes to brief questions that require only a one- or two-word reply. I also find that short telephone conversations easily balloon into lengthy discussions. I’ll call a remote team member to discuss a single issue and 20 minutes later we’ve talked about a host of unrelated items. IM is prefect for keeping the conversation on target and under five minutes.

I personally use Cerulean Studios’ Trillian as I hate the extra junk that often comes along with MSN Messenger, AIM, and Yahoo! Messenger.

If you’re looking to incorporate IM into your organization, check out the following TechRepublic IM policies before getting started: