My first exposure to web collaboration came with my former employer Quarterdeck, who in their mid-90’s days of developing applications for use on the Internet, had acquired a company that provided whiteboarding and application sharing. It was quite a feat in an era of 50 to 100 MHz Pentium-based PC’s and max 33 kbps dailup modems. One morning in early 1996, at 5 a.m,, while at home near Toronto, I came down to participate in a London, UK analyst conference where we demonstrated this collaboration tool between a host in London, a colleague in Paris and myself near Toronto. Since then many collaboration applications have been introduced; they have taken on many flavors, providing different levels of support for activities such as team building, weekly internal sales and support team meetings, customer and employee training and customer relationship management applications. Personally I have had exposure in my consulting work over the intervening years to a few of these tools. Ease-of-use, adaptability into an enterprise’s business’ processes, the session launch process and customer support policies have become key factors in many enterprise decisions on which tools to deploy within an individual customer’s business operations.
The experience and technology behind that Quarterdeck application eventually, after many twists and turns in the business infrastructure, evolved into one of the first web conferencing services: Webex, which grew to become an industry icon and was recently acquired by Cisco. But many others realized that they too could attempt to develop a suite of collaboration tools. One of the eventual web conferencing players, whom I had encountered as a client’s competitor several years ago, was an offering called Convoq. They had built up a reasonable customer base but their business focus recently took a turn that went away from collaboration tools.. As a result Convoq had decided to close down their web conference service at the end of January.
Last fall I reviewed a web conferencing service, Convenos Meeting Center, which effectively provides a persistent virtual board room with a “slide projector”, “full motion video display”, whiteboard, cobrowsing and application-desktop sharing. With its audio options, including Skype conferencing and HighSpeedConferencing.com incorporating HD Audio, Convenos has built an enterprise customer base around its ease-of-use, range of features (including its ability to work with salesforce.com, amongst others) and customer support activities.
Convoq at least recognized they needed to close down professionally by proactively recommending a preferred provider to whom their customers could transition smoothly and continue their collaborative activities. A month before closing down, Convoq announced they had selected Convenos as that preferred Provider; Convenos has since been working with Convoq personnel and their customer base to ensure a smooth transition prior to Convoq’s shutdown a week ago. From the press release:
“We selected Convenos based on their customer satisfaction ratings, feature set compatibility, and pricing relative to our products. Additionally they are an experienced, dedicated web conferencing provider that has earned an excellent reputation in the marketplace”, said Dermot O’Grady, CFO of Convoq.
The Convoq team needs to be congratulated for developing a transition process and putting their customers’ interests first in executing on their decision to close down. Too many businesses “just don’t show up for business” one day and leave their customers to fend for themselves. And congratulations to Convenos on their selection as the preferred web conferencing service provider; with their overall philosophy of “delighting the user”, the transition process should be a relatively smooth one.
Tags: Skype, Convenos, Convoq, web conferencing, Quarterdeck, Webex
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