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The Changing Face of Collaboration with WebRTC and More

While the standards bodies and heavyweights (Google, Microsoft, Firefox) all duke it out on the WebRTC standard the developers and visionaries of how work will get done in the future are not standing still in attacking the collaboration space at all. And its just in time as I'm tired of traveling and am finding that being home sure has its advantages. As someone who built a business from the start to be virtual, I found it odd that I was on the road so much, and now am happy to be able to always say "I'm WFH"  which means working from home, as it's really the way to go.

Already the team at UberConference has launched what has to be the first commericalized WebRTC service while others like clients Magor and CalliflowerOblongKollaborate.io and LiveMinutes are pushing the envelopes of real time collaboration with very simple to sign up for, and easy to use services that are going to put the pressure on WebEx, GoToMeeting and join.me. This also hurts the likes of Polycom, whose efforts with software to date all seem to be more defenive, while the likes of Mocet and their Communicator typify the idea of leveraging investment in a tablet to allow it to do more than an IP deskphone.

What we're seeing today is really the start of the changing face of collaboration, and that changing face is hapening because of the nexus of five key technology sectors and the seismic shift from wired to wireless, all under the guise of convergence.Slide1

But there's more to the whole collaboration movement. The world is going wireless, and with LTE and LTE-A (advanced) not far off, the ability to collaborate and share screens, access files stored on a cloud server, bring in another service --I love to use Tripit as an example to show travel plans on screen--but it could be showing your calendar to the group on a collaboration session to schedule the next meeting time tin order to make things easier. And, all of this will happen in real-time, not with the the usual back and forth, and no longer with the use of the phrase  "meet me on the bridge" because there isn't any bridge any more.

These meeting can all happen on the fly, with people being added as the call happens. It will be spontaneous, and the idea of the "visual conversation"-- a term I personally coined for Magor when I first saw their future direction last Sepetember, is starting to come to be. None of this was ever possible in the old PSTN. It's all possible due to IP communications and for that reason the telco model has to change. This includes the liftng of silly restrictions like port blocking by operators of traffic on certain devices.

Personally, the scheduling of conference calls has it's pluses and minues. Like analysts provide to a market, the schedule provides structure as I know what my day looks like ahead of time, but it takes away from the spontaneity that makes for a more collegial environment. That said, I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who has opted to cancel his summer travel, in favor of using what all the new tools collaboration offers to us. Brad Feld, one smart VC out of Boulder, CO is doing the same thing.



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