• August 14, 2007
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Come In and Take a Glance

Collaboration services provider Glance Networks announced yesterday that it has upgraded its Glance.net screen-sharing service, allowing each session to host up to 100 guests, instead of the existing 15-guest maximum. The technology enables individuals to engage in large- or small-scale online training sessions or Webinar events from any Web-enabled desktop computer, including both PCs and Macs. "Our approach to this whole Web-sharing market is one of extreme simplicity--it's just one button and one menu," says Rich Baker, co-founder and chief executive officer of Glance Networks. In its continuing effort to maintain simplicity, Glance decided against creating a separate application for its new feature and did not change the cost of the application. (Currently, Glance costs $49.95 a month, or a discounted rate of $499 annually.) "Most of the collaboration service providers (CSP) we've spoken to have seen between a 25 to 35 percent increase in the number of [Web conferencing] events in the past year," says Marc Beattie, CSP practice manager and partner at Wainhouse Research, a market research and consultancy firm specializing in Unified Communications and rich media conferencing. As a result, Beattie believes that increasing the number of guests in a single conference is a very beneficial step for Glance. Previously, Glance could only accommodate a small audience, while many Web-based events usually seek to attract 50 to 60 guests at a time. "[Existing users] that wanted to use [Glance] for Webinars, just couldn't before," Beattie says. "A lot of folks like the product, but when the product has internal constraints that don't allow users to further the application, people have to move onto another product." Therefore, he agrees that this capability will not only expand the usage amongst existing users, but also open it up to new users. Given its ease of use and low cost, Glance targets small and midsize businesses (SMBs), primarily for Webinars and product-training sessions. Beattie also suggests that SMBs can use Glance for effective and efficient marketing and sales initiatives: "Maybe you'll have the sales engineer, account representative, a client, and a client customer, and you say, 'Hey, listen -- I want to show you this software program, how this works.' " The revised service comes at a critical time in the online shared-space arena, Beattie says. "The market is going in two different directions," he says, noting that the first type of Web conferencing tools were more expensive, more complex, and more high-end products that provided "unified communications." Now, he says, Web conferencing will become "further integrated into collaboration and messaging services." In the process, Beattie warns, these applications--including WebEx and Microsoft Live Meeting, which can host thousands of guests--"become more complicated by virtue of deployment...and it will become more complicated for the participants." At the other end of the spectrum, there are simple screen-sharing services like Glance: very light and inexpensive applications that don't require any downloading or updating. "A common refrain in these Web conferencing products is that [presenters] spend 10 minutes teaching people how to run the product before getting into the content," Baker says. Glance addresses the need for straightforward presentation capabilities without what Baker calls the distraction and confusion of, for example, instant messaging, videos, or even survey polls that aren't always relevant. While both applications have their share of benefits and drawbacks, the use of these applications ultimately depends on the needs of the user. While analysts say that Glance has a solid offering, the company still faces the challenge of product awareness. Glance is in competition with big names like Microsoft and WebEx--now a subsidiary of networking giant Cisco Systems--but Beattie observes that, "in most organizations, there's not just one standard where they say, 'We're just going to use WebEx,' for example. Different users want different things." He adds, "There's just as much opportunity for Glance, but people just aren't aware of them yet."

Related articles: Viewpoint: Got a Unified Communications Strategy? If not, you've got a lot of room to improve collaboration efficiency. Feature: Making the Grade E-learning deployments earn straight A's when used in conjunction with formal classroom training. Secret of My Success: This Old CRM Citrix's GoToWebinar rebuilds a home improvement firm's customer-training capabilities. Secret of My Success: Aviall Services Uses CRM to Improve Collaboration--and Revenue Using WebEx to let people 'plunk around in the system' for a few hours to learn the revamped navigation. WebEx Offers Remote Support Satisfaction Intelligent routing and click-to-connect are some highlights of WebEx's remote service addition to its Support Center product. BlueRoads Interfaces With WebEx Channel management and communications merge in the partners' new single-click integration. Feature: Meet Me in Cyberspace Save time and money on travel and heighten service levels by meeting online with colleagues, customers and prospects. Feature: Web Conferencing Comes of Age Save time and money on travel and heighten service levels by meeting online with colleagues, customers and prospects.
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