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Conferencing taking hold--finally.

Conferencing seems to be finally taking hold at enterprises of all kinds, given a kick-start by convergence technologies that have both improved the collaboration experience as well as lowered costs.

Swiss Re, one of the leading global reinsurers, for example, has deployed a company-wide Web conferencing system. The Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, is communicating and collaborating more effectively with its member companies following a comprehensive redesign of the organization's teleconferencing capabilities. Boyden, an international executive search firm, is using videoconferencing technology to conduct candidate interviews as part of the initial employment evaluation process.

Swiss Re has approximately 8,800 employees operating from more than 70 offices in 30 countries. To unify its remote teams and optimize business processes throughout its global locations, the company decided to consolidate its multiple conferencing vendors and tools in favor of a single, corporate-wide standard. The firm chose Interwise Connect to provide complete conferencing capabilities to every employee for unlimited usage for a fixed price.

"We chose Interwise's on-site IP software approach for its ability to provide the full range of business functionality required by our many types of users, its fixed price/unlimited usage model, and its ability to truly meet all of our infrastructure requirements, " says John Schurdak, head of group platforms for Swiss Re. "We are able to bring together multiple tools, including bandwidth optimization, in one solution. Equally important, Interwise combined the pricing and technology to enable us to give conferencing to everyone in the company."

The Financial Services Roundtable turned to Audio Video Systems (AVS) to conduct a thorough engineering assessment and redesign of its existing conferencing systems. The redesigned system leverages the latest briefing and display system technologies, makes better use of the physical space, simplifies training and protects component systems against interference from wireless devices, such as cell phones, PDAs and laptops.

"Our ability to communicate and collaborate effectively is critical to serving the multifaceted needs of our member companies, stakeholders, partners and staff," offers Steve Bartlett, president and CEO for the organization. "The ability to use our own conferencing capabilities rather than conduct events off-site has produced considerable cost-savings."

AVS engineered improvements that allow teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and interactive white-boarding and multimedia displays in various conference room configurations.

Before implementing its conferencing solution from LifeSize, Boyden relied on off-site video services to interview remote job candidates. Average rental costs were $300 per hour for each participant location. Boyden selected LifeSize Room for its Baltimore office, based on its ability to deliver high-quality video communications at an affordable price.

"During the initial job-screening process, it is imperative that we properly assess candidates first before we expend additional time and resources to conduct face-to-face meetings, and doing so over the phone just doesn't give us a complete picture," explains Tim McNamara, managing director at Boyden. "LifeSize Room allows us to effectively qualify that individual without ever having to leave our office."

Boyden is now realizing a cost savings of around $200,000 a year in associated travel expenses and off-site conferencing service fees.
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Title Annotation:Trends
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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