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Rising Gas Prices Fuel the Value of Remote Collaboration

Are higher gas prices making remote collaboration tools more attractive to consumers and small businesses? I certainly think so. I read an article recently in The San Jose Mercury News that featured a Bay Area couple who spend $1200/month on fuel for their daily 385-mile (combined) commutes. While one can debate the merits-and the sanity-of this particular example, higher gas costs are looming larger in many household and small business budgets. Remote collaboration tools that make sense for large businesses are becoming money- and time-saving tools for small businesses and individuals, too. Now there’s a second”green” argument: this one’s about wallet contents rather than carbon footprints.Imagine if the couple above worked from home just two days a month. Using a remote computer access solution like Cisco WebEx’s PCNow, they’d have secure remote desktop access to their work computers from their home computers, whether they were PCs or Macs, plus remote file and folder access from their mobile phones. Even better, a solution like this would let them easily share their local computer screens with remote colleagues for one-to-one collaboration, training, or support.The couple would reduce their commute by over 750 miles a month, save more than $100 on gas, and reduce their stress and fatigue by avoiding over twelve hours spent listening to talk shows while avoiding other drivers who also should be collaborating remotely. All for about $25 a month for two PCNow subscriptions.Of course, most workers don’t have the excessive commute of our lucky couple, but the price of gas isn’t likely to drop anytime soon, either. Plus, as they say in the credit card commercial,”Regaining productive time, saving money and remaining sane? Priceless.”by David Bockian, Cisco WebEx strategic marketing

Internet Revolution Extending Beyond the Wired World

Not very long ago, I remember spending about $100 per month on my phone bill and an additional $20 for dial-up Internet access. Today, I spend about $50 on my broadband Internet connection and an additional $20 for VoIP phone service -with added benefits of ubiquitous access to social networking, rich communications, multimedia, and e-commerce applications. This economic dynamic, facilitated by the Internet revolution, has not only changed the economics in the land-line telecommunications industry, but it has fundamentally changed how we communicate, recreate, educate, and conduct business.As 40,000 professionals from 125 countries converged at in Las Vegas for CTIA Wireless 2008, it was clear that the benefits of the Internet revolution are being extended well beyond the wired world. More than 1,100 technology vendors at the show demonstrated how they are pushing its boundaries with new business models and technical innovation to drive this revolution into the wireless world.Wireless equipment providers focused on how ubiquitous bandwidth, delivered by high performance wireless networks laid the foundation for the mobile Internet superhighway. With the rollout of next-generation mobility services, carriers were hard at work giving existing and new subscribers every reason to remain connected on their networks, while providing them with convenient hopping points between precious licensed wireless and unlicensed wireless or wired networks. Mobile application providers responded to the challenge by demonstrating rich broadband Internet like mobile multimedia, mobile advertising, m-commerce, mobile social networking and mobile communications applications — but with added benefit of un-tethered everywhere and every time mobility experience. As more and more is demanded from the mobile device by these applications, innovations in mobile device and operating systems took center stage for many vendors in the mobile end-point business.With the Internet revolution extending into the wireless world and as we become more accustomed to the Mobile Internet in our personal lives, we will soon expect similar experience in our work lives. One way that businesses can prepare for this is by mobilizing current investments in business communications and applications available in the office to where every business takes their employees. By mobilizing these applications, businesses can harness the productivity benefits of the Internet well beyond the office. by Priten Gandecha, Cisco Unified Communications solutions marketing manager

More Meeting Effectiveness Ideas

NPR’s Day to Day has an interesting, short interview on managing effective meetings. The interview with Steven Rogelberg Ph. D., Professor and Director, Organizational Science, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, discusses some recent research he conducted on people’s attitudes toward meetings. The revelation isn’t that most people don’t like meetings. Rather, the interview has some great nuggets for fostering a good meeting culture. These ideas apply equally to web meetings and in-person meetings. First and foremost, organizations should involve HR in teaching people how to run effective meetings as well as provide feedback on the way an individual runs his or her meetings. Next, reign in the habit of inviting excessive numbers of attendees. Limiting attendance increases the effectiveness for participants. While it can be beneficial to invite a broad group, organizations should make it acceptable for team members to decline or sit out of meetings when appropriate. On an individual level, structure the agenda to discuss critical strategic initiatives first and save general announcements for last. This post has some additional pointers and links to resources on conducting an effective meeting. Michael Caton, Collaboration Evangelist, WebEx

Enterprise Cross-Platform Support: Mac OS X to Mozilla

Last week Forrester Research released a report detailing the increasingly cross-platform nature of enterprise PCs. The report indicates that the enterprise market share of Apple’s Mac OS X is growing as is the share of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. According to the report, in 2007 Mac OS X share grew 3x to 4.2% and Mozilla nearly doubled market share to 18%. As the adoption of Mac continues to grow among corporate users, Cisco WebEx has increased its support for the platform across its suite and just announced full support for Mac OS X Leopard and Safari 3 users across its entire collaboration suite. Several Mac-focused media outlets showed their excitement about the news. Check out MacWorld’s coverage. We’ve seen Mac OS X use double recently, and while 4.2% could be described as modest share, the growth is strong. Sales of Apple PCs, particularly in the notebook segment, continue to be strong according to this MacWorld article citing NPD and IDC research. Mozilla’s share in the enterprise increased despite not having an official MSI package to simplify large scale deployment. Forrester surveyed the desktop and browser environments of 50,000 users at 2,300 large to very large organizations on a monthly basis throughout 2007. Colin Smith, Dir., Public Relations, Cisco WebEx

Ask Al Gore: How Can I Help Reduce my Organization’s Carbon Footprint?

How many times do you get to ask a Nobel Laureate his opinion? Here’s your chance. Tomorrow, Cisco is hosting a discussion between Al Gore, John Chambers and Sue Bostrom on the role innovation can play in mitigating climate change. We invite you to attend the virtual event, which will be webcast at www.cisco.com/offer/ecopanel and we also would like to collect some questions in advance to foster the discussion. Information technology professionals and journalists interested in the role technology can play in reducing your organization’s carbon impact, please submit questions via ecopanelquestions@external.cisco.com.