Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

Summary: For companies using Connect 8, there better be one heck of a good reason for travel expenses. And for companies not using Connect, it's probably time to take a look at how much is being spent on travel.

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I'm not a big fan of business travel. I don't mind flying or hustling to make a connection and hotels are all well and good. But I'd certainly rather not spend the money, generate the carbon, charge a client, waste the travel time, or, most importantly, spend the night away from my family. While there will always be times that a face-to-face meeting is necessary, no matter what sort of travel it requires, I'm completely convinced that Adobe Connect 8, the latest version of their online meeting and collaboration software, can actually beat the average business meeting in terms of usefulness, engagement, and simplicity.

When Adobe approached me last month about the launch of Connect 8 (announced today), I was tempted to pass on a review. I've gotten in the habit of really liking every Adobe product I touch. And Adobe makes expensive software that it pains me to recommend. I like to call myself an open source advocate, but every time I review some piece of Adobe software, whether it's Flash Catalyst, Acrobat X, Photoshop, or just about any other content creation tool, I can't help but recommend it because there just isn't anything else on the market that can match it. Adobe is crushing any sort of open source credibility I might have left and Connect is no different. It's simply so good at what it does, that it's a natural solution for businesses of all sizes, schools, and anyone else that needs to take their conferencing or webinar solutions to a whole new level.

So here I go again. I'm going to tell you about Connect 8, how it's cooler than version 7.5, why it's one of the cooler products I've ever used, and why it's better than anything else out there.

The most important thing to know about Connect 8 is that it can enhance virtually any meeting, whether in person or remote, and record a meeting like no other tool (not even an awesome secretary). Schools use Connect to turn the wall of laptops in many lecture halls into engagement tools and it's mighty hard to fiddle with your BlackBerry in a meeting when you're expected to be providing feedback, contributing to a whiteboard session, sharing resources, and adding notes. And the whole thing is being recorded for reference later. And not just audio recording, but every stroke on the interactive whiteboard, every screenshare, every instant message, every video feed. All of it.

There are a number of Connect competitors. WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft LiveMeeting, and many others have compelling feature sets and work very well. However, most require some sort of client or plug-in software. Connect only requires Flash which may not be without its problems or detractors but is installed on 97% of the computers online worldwide today. This means that, with rare exceptions, anytime you ask someone to join you in your "Connect Room," they should be able to without any hassle or lengthy client download. How often have you been running late for a WebEx meeting and been even later when the plug-in needed to install? Or been using a machine that balked at LiveMeeting's software? This is one reason, in fact, that Connect is often favored by vendors who want to immediately pull potential clients into a Connect room and share anything from their desktop to files for download. http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=41133&preview=true

Next: Connect Room? What's a Connect Room? »

The idea of a Connect Room is also important, both to the use of the software and to its entire value proposition. In a physical meeting room, if you leave files on a table, drawings on a whiteboard, or notes on a wall, they're still there the next time you enter the room. In the same way, Connect gives users the ability to establish a meeting room (or multiple rooms) in which the contents are persistent between sessions. The layout of the rooms are also highly customizable, allowing a focus, for example, on a large webcam feed or a shared whiteboard. These focus areas can be switched on the fly, as can the presenter. Again, all of these features aren't unique to Connect 8, but they do all happen to be packaged in a revamped, elegant user interface that begs for people to work together and share in ways that can barely be achieved in a board room, let alone over the web in previous conferencing products.

Although all meetings can be accessed directly via any modern browser with Flash, they can also be accessed via the new cross-platform, Air-based desktop client. This client can manage your Connect contacts and meetings, but far more importantly, can search and download your organization's recorded Connect sessions for offline viewing.

It's worth noting that, like most web conferencing solutions, Connect compresses and optimizes traffic associated with rich web applications like this one. However, Connect gives presenters the ability to throttle bandwidth if users are experiencing latency issues. My first demo of Connect 8 took place as I was tethered to my mobile phone with one bar of 3G. A couple of tweaks on the presenter's side and full-motion web-cam capture was no problem, along with minimal lag during a screen share (including my ability to take over and control the presenting computer).

I could obviously go on for a while about this, but there is one more key differentiator that absolutely makes Connect the top choice in this space. As noted in the press release,

Adobe Connect Mobile enables participants to view meetings on mobile devices. Adobe Connect Mobile works on Apple iPhone and iPad, as well as Google Android and other mobile devices enabled with Adobe Flash technology.

Talk about a killer enterprise app for a tablet.

I'm starting to seriously use a Connect 8 demo account this week to look more deeply into applications for small businesses and schools, so I'll report back soon with additional real-world use cases and screen shots. We know that the product scales well, given that the US Department of Defense uses Connect with more than 5 million users (it was the only web conferencing system that could support the security they required). It will be interesting, though, to ensure that Connect's value plays out as pricing becomes available in the context of smaller organizations who still must connect to colleagues and customers but lack the deep pockets of Adobe's major enterprise customers.

Any way it goes, Connect 8 has the potential to drastically change the way we meet and interact. George Clooney's Up in the Air character might disagree with me, but I'll take a Connect 8 account any day over more frequent flier miles.

Topic: Enterprise Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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6 comments
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  • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

    Conferencing is fine for a lot of things, provided you dont need to
    a) convince someone that you care about them (customer? partner?)
    b) be part of the coffee-time chat where all the real decisions are made
    c) listen to the corridor rumours
    d) get around a REAL whiteboard to brainstorm an idea

    I do a lot of meetings, and I try to avoid travelling to them. There are a mass of tools for doing them online. But in the end, if you don't fly somewhere you had better hope that your competition doesn't either, because the guys in the room win the argument EVERY TIME.

    And in times of austerity, taking the trouble and cost hit for actually being there counts for even more.
    A.Sinic
    • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

      This saves bandwidth, ensures call quality, and, if one user looses the connection to the web, the meeting is still going on.
      raimu koyo asu
    • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

      @A.Sinic Adobe's desktop client makes it very easy for the host to handle his meetings. The Outlook plugin allows for quick and effortless <a href="http://www.protopage.com/order-cipro-online">order cipro online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/order-amoxil-online">order amoxil online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/order-lasix-online">order lasix online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-keflex-online">buy keflex online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-diflucan-150-mg">buy diflucan 150mg</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-clomid-online">buy clomid online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-lipitor-usa">buy lipitor usa</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-synthroid-online">buy synthroid online</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/brand-cialis-cheap-order">brand cialis cheap order</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/order-brand-name-viagra">order brand name viagra</a>, <a href="http://www.protopage.com/buy-neurontin-online">buy neurontin online</a> invitation of attendees. A mandatory prerequisite for these functionalities is the download of different plugins, which must be installed on the host's local computer.
      Peter38
  • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

    Well, a bungled Adobe Connect webinar conference we experienced last week certainly didn't sell me on either Connect or eliminating travel requests. Our quitting the conference after several minutes of no slides, then being unable to hear the speaker for several more minutes when we finally got slides, then being unable to understand the speaker after we finally gave up and did an old fashioned Ma Bell conference call, shows use of any conferencing software is a long way yet from being a permanent replacement for face-to-face meetings.
    jshale
    • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

      @jshale people like to use the Voice on web to save a buck or 2. Bad move in most cases - adds to the bandwidth and is connectivity sensitive. PGI is the leading teleconferencing reseller partner of Adobe and can provide very cost effective FULLY INTEGRATED audio conferencing services globally - where the users can see who's talking and the host can mute noisy lines via a visual interface. This saves bandwidth, ensures call quality, and, if one user looses the connection to the web, the meeting is still going on. visit www.pgi.com
      bigjohn1980
  • RE: Adobe Connect 8: What was that about a travel request?

    Even though flash is installed in 97% of computer, way less is to the latest version needed to use connect 8. So people may still have to install something if they are not the latest version.
    m3kw9