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Web and Video Conferencing Software
Improves Productivity and Operating Costs

Nefsis Commentary — The following commentary is provided by Nefsis regarding the general topic of business-to-business video conferencing in the manufacturing vertical market.

The Manufacturing Challenge in Tough Times

Today's business climate is more competitive than ever. So how do manufacturers both protect the bottom line and succeed without making deep cuts in their workforce? Is this an oxymoron? No. Manufacturers can look for cost savings no further than the latest software that brings management, employees, customers and partners together virtually.

Web and video conferencing can save manufacturers, or any organization that is dispersed geographically, both time and money — and increase customer contact. Time spent out of the office traveling for general business meetings or even standard customer visits is usually time not well spent. This is especially true where visits are routine, back-and-forth between the same locations. Companies spend a great deal of capital on business travel that could be put to better use, such as hiring new sales personnel, updating manufacturing systems and other worthy capital investments.

The increase in the availability and affordability of T1 or better Internet connections (corporate Internet access) combined with the speed of the latest multicore Pentium processors makes it easy for any operation to reap the benefits of online meetings, virtual training, and sales and support presentations via the web.

Videoconference services and software have experienced a dramatic surge of popularity recently. Organizations of all sizes have found that web and videoconferencing can be used in all departments, in all lines of business, for interactive training, off-shore manufacturing and out-sourced operations support, sales presentations, standing and ad-hoc meetings, just to mention some of the most popular applications of the technology.

Manufacturers can also leverage this technology to make sure personnel are trained and up-to-speed on new ERP,  control systems, as well as front office operations, supply chain and CRM software. Management can use a video conference to meet, virtually, with co-workers around the globe anytime and any place with just a standard web browser and high-speed Internet connection.

According to leading industry analyst groups, such as Wainhouse Research and Frost & Sullivan, much of the increasing market demand for web conferencing software and services can be attributed to worldwide economic growth, which will trigger increased IT spending, better system and software interoperability and increased acceptance of the technology itself.

Leading Examples

Large successful companies such as D.H. Pace, a Kansas City, Missouri-based manufacturer and marketer of garage doors, had to adopt the latest web and video conferencing technology in order to keep up with training demands. Because employees are spread throughout six offices, in as many states, there wasn't a practical way for the training staff to keep up with new employee training and ongoing employee education.

D.H. Pace is utilizing Nefsis Web Conferencing, which offers a comprehensive set of features for real-time interaction and communication. End users can share their desktops, any application or web browser. PowerPoint presentations can be dynamically uploaded and shared during the conference. Ten participants or more can use video at the same time in order to bring a more interactive environment to the conference. In conjunction with video, voice conferencing decreases the need to use expensive teleconferencing services for company-wide or lengthy meetings. In addition, the remote control feature allows the host to take control of desktops or applications in order to conduct training sessions.

Nefsis web and video conferencing is available as on-premise software, and online services, unlike other products in this category such as WebEx, which available online only. There are a variety of web conferencing software applications available today, such as Adobe Connect and IBM Lotus SameTime, to name two. Nefsis, along with SameTime and Breeze, offer many of the same features such as those listed above, along with whiteboarding, document sharing and annotation, the ability to mark up documents during presentations.

Tindall is a family-owned company headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina that designs, manufactures and erects pre-cast and pre-stressed concrete systems for various types of construction projects in Southern and Mid-Atlantic states. Like D.H. Pace, Tindall has offices in several states, including Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi. Like most sales and service-oriented businesses, Tindall has a significant travel budget. Tindall spent nearly $500,000 on business travel alone last year.

And, like many manufacturers, Tindall has a small IT department that is responsible for keeping the network and all software and applications, including its Baan ERP system running smoothly and efficiently. But Tindall found that web conferencing could meet the need for its engineering team to not only share AutoCAD drawings with conference attendees that don't have the actual application, it has allowed the team to evaluate a new 3D CAD application in parallel without traveling to one central location to accomplish the evaluation. According to Tindall, the use of web conferencing for this one particular project saved the company approximately $24,000. Translate this savings to the numerous other projects that require group input and travel and that in itself pays for the web conferencing software many times over.

The management and maintenance of the web conferencing application is minimal, as is the end-user training that is required. Services generally charge per-minute and sometimes per-host. Web conferencing software package pricing is generally based on the number of users, or license seats.

There is no time like the present to adopt new software and technologies that can make your company more efficient and enable communication and interaction in real-time. The future of video and web conferencing is promising. In the near future, global workforces will hold high-quality video conferences, complete with voice and file sharing, from a mobile phone or PDA. This will unleash workers from their desks and empower them to reach new productivity goals regardless of physical location.

Innovative collaborative software and technology solutions can actually save a great deal of money spent on business travel, training and increase productivity by keeping key personnel in the office rather than waiting in airports to get to destinations that are really just a mouse-click away.

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