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Online Services for Business Communication

The advancements in high speed Internet connections, broad band, and multimedia tools has made online communication approach as one of the most important form of collaboration in the corporate and business world. Individuals, teams and even large corporate groups meet real time, from across the world, without leaving their office premises, or even desks. The high speed connectivity accorded by Internet accords the facility of live communication, interaction, discussion, demonstration and instant application sharing, which make the online meetings and conferences as useful and interactive as any board room meeting (Proctor and Vu, 8).

This research looks at the various features associated with online business communication models, the tools required, and the advantages and changes they have brought in the new age corporate structure. Online Business Communication: Tools The tools required for required for an online business communication or web conferencing depends upon the size of the meeting and number of participants involved. For a relatively small meeting, or a meeting where individual participation is required, a computer and headphones with mike, or telephone connection are needed for the purpose of attendance.

People can attend these meetings from their workstation/desk. A larger meeting consisting of whole teams or groups coming getting together would require further setup for the conference, which involves a conference room to hold the size of the entire group, computer, projector and a projector screen to facilitate common viewing, and multiple mikes or spider phone with crawler mike for all the attendees (Proctor and Vu, 18).

There are a host of client end software and services which provide the facility of live interaction, application sharing, and direct communication. Some of the major software in online communication services are E-presence, GoToMeeting, IBM Lotus Sametime, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, MSN, Web Ex, and Zoho (Wood and Smith, 11). Enriching Features of Online Communication Online communication and web conferencing have a slew of features associated with them, which make them extremely viable for current age business models.

Depending upon the available features of the communication software and the speed of the Internet connection, participants can share documents, get simultaneous live view of desktop screen of one or many participants, share applications, view the PowerPoint presentations, view videos and graphics, and chat to each other in a common discussion room, or individually. As almost all of the communication software support voice conference, participants can engage in real time conversations and discussions, while staying at the same visual platform (Wood and Smith, 31-39).

Most of the web communication software have built in calendar feature, which automatically sends meeting reminders to the participants, saving this hassle on the part of meeting organizer. A further embedded feature of online communication tools is facility of recording the entire sequence of the conference, including the presentations, documents, visited web pages, chats, discussions and voice conversations. This adds to the re-use value of the entire meeting.

If some participants have been unable to attend the meeting, or the meeting proceedings are to be shared with other people, the meeting moderators can selectively or completely pass over the entire meeting recording . At the end of every web conference, the meeting coordinators can also share the transcripts from the common discussion and chat boards, notes, observations and list of attendees with all the participants (Proctor and Vu, 23). Business Advantages

Online communication and conferencing represent a great technological leap and it realizes Marshall McLuhan’s prediction of physically isolated business units collaborating, networking and expanding through means of modern communication technologies. It had been a dream of many Internet and media visionaries to create a virtual platform of interaction, which is as real as any ‘live’ platform and even more useful functionally. But how exactly the facilities of virtual meeting and interaction are useful from business point of view?

To understand the importance of online communication model, it is first vital to understand the importance of business communication. Business communication constitutes the lifeline of every organization and company. Whether it is for achieving in house excellence in production, performance and delivery, or for creating successful advertising campaigns, promotional plans, winning new clients and customers and retaining older ones, effective communication holds the key of this entire complex.

It helps to keep the goals and visions in focus, at team or organizational level (Proctor and Vu, 91). It helps in quick analysis of internal and external situations, creation of business strategies and plans, and aligning multiple teams working on the plans, to keep them on the same footing. The economic and business scenarios are also characterized by high dynamism and protean qualities, where timely coordination and decision making makes the difference between success and failure.

As it is often said about the business models, ‘change’ is their only consistent problem (Wood and Smith, 67). And communication is the only strategy that has been ever found to manage the problem of change, because the change in question involves people and information, and communication is the only medium which channelizes people and information together. The largest of business houses and best of corporate strategies are not based on most effective use of machines and technologies, but on the most effective interaction and collaboration among people.

This is the reason why senior managers and executives of any company make extensive travels and attempt to establish and maintain a personal contact with their clientele (Wood and Smith, 73-78). Upward mobility in the business world is possible only through superior communication approach and cognitive skills (Proctor and Vu, 108). Following are some of the outstanding advantages of web conferencing that has made it virtually the backbone of the Internet business model and industry. 1.

Travelling cost reduction: One of the major financial overheads for businesses, whether large or small, is the money and time involved in travelling. The larger the business model, the greater is the expenditure-executives and managers require flying to all the domestic and/or international location for creating new deals, capturing new client base, resolving issues and ensuring smooth and efficient operations. We have already seen the high importance of interaction required both at client and employee level to maintain and run a successful business endeavor (Wood and Smith, 105).

Further, it is the era of extensive outsourcing, off shore development centers and off shore production, where most of the large corporations have offices spread over the entire world-across the length and breadth of Europe and Asia. It is natural to see that from the view of finances, it is extremely difficult and inadvisable that employees of a same company but working in different locations and regions should have to physically move to a common location for meeting and interaction.

Online communication models have today completely obviated this requirement, and it facilitates remarkable flexibility and facility to people to collaborate live in the business meetings from anywhere in the world, including their home. This has helped companies to greatly save on the cost of travelling, hotel booking, and other related expenditures (Proctor and Vu, 138). 2. Time management: The recording and post simulation facilities of web conferencing software allow deferred participation to people who are a in a different time zone, or who could not attend meeting for some other reasons.

Using the video and voice recordings, chat transcripts and documents used in the meeting, they can keep themselves updated on the agenda and plan of the meeting. Further, the fact that online meetings makes travelling unnecessary also means that it saves the time that would have been otherwise wasted in travel. Also, it is not necessary for people to stay in office to attend a meeting, should it happen at odd hours (Wood and Smith, 122). If they have a high speed Internet connection at their home, they can participate in the meeting from their as well.

3. Improving the quality of life: Web conferencing allows people almost the same degree and perception of interaction as a normal meeting accord. As more and more people are using it, the necessity for them to take extensive tours, visits and travel has come down considerably. The time saved by them adds value to their professional and personal life, where they get more time to spend with their family, colleagues and with themselves, thereby drawing more happiness and satisfaction from their work conditions (Proctor and Vu, 221).

This value inspires them to improved performance, bringing productivity and contentment at both organizational and personal levels. Reference Proctor, R. W. and Vu, Kim Phuong. Handbook of Human Factors in Web Design. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005. Wood, Andrew, F. and Smith, Matthew J. Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and Culture. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005.

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