Tomorrow marks the end of October, and is typically the time of year when chemical companies are cutting budgets in order to meet their yearly profit objectives.

One of the first areas to get cut is travel and expenses, so a lot of work gets done using conference calls and email.  But many of these are important meetings, and using phone and email doesn't always suffice.

I've seen an increase in usage of web-conferencing services to help conduct these virtual meetings - especially given the current economic situation.  For Microsoft, our service is called Microsoft Office Live Meeting.  Instead of flying a dozen people to your headquarters for a day-long planning session, why not try to do it remotely and save the money?

And if you decide to host a Live Meeting instead of travel, why not enhance the experience using the Microsoft Roundtable?

The Roundtable is a conferencing device that tracks the active speaker with its 360-degree camera.  Meaning, you could have a location with people sitting around the table, and the person talking shows up on the camera.

I've hosted about a dozen meetings in the last six months with a Roundtable device on the other end, and it is a great leap forward in experience - especially when you are building relationships with people you don't see often in person.  A fact of life in our global economy.

Below is a screen shot I grabbed from our Live Meeting home page showing how the experience looks using a Roundtable device with Live Meeting:

Screenshot of an Office Live Meeting conference using RoundTable

Our account teams are working with a few different chemical customers on documenting their use of Roundtables in concert with Live Meetings for different scenarios - global operational meeting, supply chain planning meeting, and executive planning.  We are working on an arrangement with some of them to share their story, and I hope to be able to publish more details in the next few months.

In the meantime, check out the Roundtable web site for more details - maybe not traveling so much is a good thing!

-Brian