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"nextweb" intranet article:

Online Meeting Tool Promises to Cut Costs, Save Time and Boost Productivity

IT Operation’s Global Telecommunications Department has launched WebEx, a user-friendly application for online meetings that employees worldwide can use as a less expensive alternative to videoconferences. WebEx, available to anyone who has a browser and a phone, offers interactive and collaborative tools such as PowerPoint slide viewing, real-time document editing, application sharing and Web site tours – all with a crisp, clear presentation of graphics. For several months, employees at Mindspeed have been using the application on a trial basis to share information with colleagues, customers or partners

The trial run has shown that using WebEx can yield big cost savings for departments, according to Richard Ratz, Worldwide Sales Training Manager for Mindspeed. “Since the company started using WebEx for Mindspeed employees, it has reduced teleconference costs by as much as $100,000 a month,” says Richard.

In fact, WebEx is at least 60% less expensive than setting up a videoconference, according to the Global Telecommunications Department. For example, a four-person videoconference call runs about $360, while that same meeting via WebEx costs about $100. Savings from just the recent All Employee Meetings, in which WebEx was used for employees outside of Newport Beach, were $12,000 each.

“We feel that once WebEx use becomes widespread at Conexant that we can easily reduce videoconferencing costs by $240,000 to $300,000 a year,” says Chris Rubal, Global Telecommunications Video Specialist.

WebEx is less expensive than videoconferencing because it leverages the established infrastructure of the company’s network and the World Wide Web. To support a videoconference, the company is required to lease multiple ISDN phone lines, which is costly and less technologically efficient. Chris also points out that when WebEx replaces in-person meetings, it eliminates costs associated with travel and lodging.

A Productivity Advantage

Another benefit to using WebEx is significant time savings, according to Fran Brown, Global Telecommunications Video Technician. Conference America, the company's teleconference service provider, fully hosts every meeting session through its C2K Plus service. Employees can use WebEx within minutes -- without needing support from the Information Technology Department that is typical in videoconference sessions. “Plus, the application itself is very intuitive, so people can use the tools quickly,” says Fran.

Sales Training Manager Brian Mix, who helped train users during the trial period, can vouch for that. “It’s like [Microsoft] Word to me -- pretty much second nature,” reports Brian. “And the people we introduced to WebEx went nuts over its ease of access and use.”

The Global Telecommunications Department asks employees to consider other productivity advantages, which include:

  • Training sessions and follow-up sales discussions without the hassles of arranging travel.
  • Collaboration on technical or marketing materials, no matter how far-flung the workgroup.
  • Participation from any desktop -- at work, at home, on the road.
  • A higher level of customer support through concurrent verbal and visual aid.

The only WebEx feature that’s currently unavailable for most employees is live or taped video. “But let’s face it,” says Chris. “That’s a very minor temporary trade-off when you weigh it against the cost-savings, time-efficiency, collaborative tools, productivity benefits and enhanced graphics quality you get with WebEx.”

Becoming a WebEx User

Before you can start using WebEx, you must take a 75-minute training class provided by Conference America. The class is presented through the WebEx application itself, so you can attend right at your own computer. Until December 15, class sessions are offered daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Pacific Time, with two additional sessions on Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to accommodate employees in Europe and Asia. The class briefly covers meeting security and the Conference America service before presenting instructions for conducting and attending a WebEx meeting. To reserve a spot in one of the sessions, visit the Conference America online registration page. Participation is limited to 10 people per session.

After December 15, you can call 1-800-925-8000 to get training via an on-demand streaming video. You must first tell the operator that you’re from Conexant, and provide your name, employee ID, department, and e-mail address to establish an account. Then Conference America will provide the URL for the stream.

To learn more about WebEx, visit the WebEx page on nexthelp, where you can read about complete product features, benefits and unique capabilities as well as watch a demo movie, find out about the record/playback feature or download a PDF copy of a brochure.

Watch for upcoming articles in nextpost about how employees are using WebEx to save money and increase productivity.