Web conferencing has tapped a vein in the enterprise, and vendors are rushing in to quench the need for easy-to-use, real-time collaboration tools that meld with desktop tools and applications.
The need may be significant. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the worldwide market for Web conferencing will reach $2.7 billion by 2009.
Eyeing that opportunity, Citrix Systems’ online division later this month will roll out GoToMeeting, Web conferencing technology the company recently acquired from Expertcity.
Based on desktop screen-sharing technology, GoToMeeting aims to simplify the process of joining a meeting through integration with commonly used desktop applications such as IM and e-mail.
“We’ve taken a stumbling block away from online meetings because you can launch from the desktop, IM, and e-mail,” said Klaus Schauser, CTO of the online division at Citrix.
To launch a session, users do not need to preinstall or configure software. GoToMeeting includes desktop sharing, keyboard and mouse control, chat, audio conferencing, and reporting and tracking tools.
The product will be available in two versions: GoToMeeting, which will be aimed at small businesses; and GoToMeeting Corporate, which will feature central administration and reporting.
Citrix Online’s flat-fee subscription may help its appeal.
Fueled in part by corporate efforts to reduce travel expenses, Web conferencing usage is expected to skyrocket when real-time tools become fully integrated with the desktop, facilitating a shift from centrally scheduled meetings to a more ad-hoc model, according to Robert Mahowald, research manager at IDC.
Real-time integration into e-mail, IM, and documents will allow users to launch meetings on the spur of the moment, Mahowald added.
“The battle for the desktop will make [Web conferencing] the real-time hub for enterprise collaboration and will drive usage,” Mahowald said.
The market is currently led by IBM, Microsoft, Raindance, and WebEx.
This desktop battle will be primarily waged by the major infrastructure players but will leave opportunities for smaller vendors.
“Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Sun are working hard to present a very robust vision of the [enterprise] desktop that includes real-time functionality,” Mahowald said.
The growth of Web conferencing has also opened up the market for related collaboration management tools from ViewCentral. In September, the company plans to release ViewCentral 5.0, which will include functionality that targets marketing programs, said ViewCentral CEO Rick Ludlow.
Linktivity, meanwhile, is preparing a new release of WebDemo, with support for Active Directory, LDAP, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), and Windows Authentication, as well as interoperability with Yahoo and AOL instant messengers.
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