by January 1, 2009 0 comments

Travel budgets, outstation accommodation, conveyance amounts — the top three
components of manpower expenses are the first to bear the brunt of the finance
department to cut costs and increase profits. No wonder then that a company like
Webex has shown whopping growth percentages to the tune of 100 times just in the
last 10 years, and interestingly, around 60% of this growth is thanks to
first-time collaboration deployments across companies which are either mid-size
enterprises or in regions like India where broadband is just settling in.

Webex attempted to rubbish the fact that you need state-of-the-art
infrastructure in terms of non-stop connectivity and dedicated hardware to
recreate an environment where virtual is as close to real as possible. True, you
do need uninterrupted broadband to ensure enough bandwidth to be able to
integrate voice, data and video real time, but luckily for Webex, broadband
became hugely popular at least in India around the same time when they began
wooing the market here.

Webex believes after analyzing market feedback here over the last two years
that budgets, resistance towards setting up enterprise-class exchange servers
exclusively for collaboration and lack of sensible RoIs in comparison to
‘travel-when-you-need-to’ approach are the three biggest hurdles that prevented
(and to a certain extent still preventing) enterprises of any size to deploy
collaboration seriously. The SaaS format thus makes more sense since most
companies in India see growth spurts either unevenly or in exponentially high
magnitudes. If companies do approach the idea of collaboration with the ‘pay as
you grow’ philosophy, it will also help them realize in a step by step manner,
increased RoIs and significant reductions in travel budgets over a staggered
period of time.

Collaboration, according to Webex is best realized in ‘disaggregated’
organizations that need to work with each other, by overcoming hurdles of
standardized software, common technology architecture and independent
operations. Collaboration also uses, to a great extent, the online space to
vertically integrate organizational monoliths and act as a catalyst for
standardization of human processes across various departments, sections and

There are three levels which an enterprise — big or small — can realize the
uses of a collaborative workforce. One of course is collaboration amongst
employees who are scattered around the world and need to brainstorm,
conceptualize projects, make strategic decisions, discuss growth plans, etc;
while the second stage of collaboration maturity is to envelop partners and
vendors within the collaboration network by giving external agencies access to
relevant information, virtually meet key officials of the company and hasten
collaborative projects. The third step is to accelerate all business processes,
and bring them under the umbrella of collaboration — employees, vendors, market
analysts, feedback agencies, etc.

An ideal starting point for this would be to begin with individual services
that allow meetings over the Internet, and step 2 is to utilize options of
sharing files as data, audio and video.

The third step is to archive this data for future use and give access to
individual or applications within the collaboration network. In terms of
business benefits, the starting point is absence of involving a dedicated ‘IT
manager’ to perform collaboration since most of it is designed in a DIY format.

Secondly, the ‘pay by use’ options eliminates expenses that companies are
recurring without use, and thirdly, the ability to archive, organize and retrace
data shared through collaborating, makes the collaboration setup an environment
that can be transferred, dissolved or reused at will.

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