This post is at once a history lesson, a cultural observation, and a practical. (Of course, if you hate stories as part of learning, you’ll hate me as a teacher and can save some time by changing the channel now 🙂 Let me help with something random.)
First, the history lesson.
Many web conferencing tools have a “meet now” function that will take you directly into a meeting, bypassing the need to schedule and log in. The very first function of that type was invented at PlaceWare (later acquired by Microsoft and becoming LiveMeeting), and the product manager who invented it was an industry old timer named Scott Driscoll. Oh, and he happens to be my partner at 1080 Group. Nice.
Second, the cultural observation.
Early adopters of web conferencing were marketing, sales, and training departments for reasons I’ll spare you here. Therefore conferencing marketers placed ads in marketing pubs, rented lists from training sites, tried to influence-the-influencer in various thought leaders of those fields, all that. Years ago when PlaceWare put ads on the radio and CNN, the sales team complained the leads were unqualified (and I imagine Webex‘s crew did too). But the broad, SMB market isn’t affordably reached when you’re selling a solution for hundreds of dollars instead of thousands or tens of thousands…
So the application story is a continuation of the previous thought…
My dad calls me. Computer problem. Never mind that I’m not a hardcore geek, but I “work in the computer industry.” While on the phone, I fire up GoToMeeting (instantly) and ‘look over his shoulder’ while he shows me the problem (and we fix it).
He quips, “Hey, I’ve heard of them on the radio!”
Now his nutrition business doesn’t need conferencing, but thousands of others do, and they’re not on a list from Web Digest for Marketers or Chief Learning Officer. Those radio ads are reaching a whole new group of businesses.
More importantly, the use-case envisioned by Scott comes full circle. Adoption will occur when we reduce clicks to make using this stuff happen at the speed of thought. An inbound sales call becomes a presentation. An outbound call goes from telephone chat to full collaboration. Ad hoc conversations, part of our every day life in the terrestrial world, now can have that visual component just as easily, even when we’re virtual.
Explode your productivity. Get hip to “meet now.”