About a month ago I gave a breakout session at a partner’s user conference.  The headlines across the world were focused on the economic crisis, ideas for stimulus plans, and whether to wait or act immediately.  I started my breakout session by saying “How we did business 6 months ago is certainly not how we would be doing business 6 months from now.”  A lot has happened since then, and my main point is ringing true:  companies have taken various measures to cut costs. 

I had scheduled a briefing here in Redmond with one of my partners well in advance of the global financial crisis.  Reacting to the economy the partner decided to cancel due to their new travel policy.  After some discussion, I convinced them to proceed with the briefing.  Not with them traveling to Redmond, or me sending a bushel of speakers to their location.    We decided to proceed by taking advantage of technology to bring the two organizations together.

RoundTable_lowOK We held the briefing last week with our speakers here in Redmond, and the partner hosted in a local Microsoft facility.  We used LiveMeeting to share presenter’s content and show product demonstrations, and Microsoft Roundtable in each location.

Roundtable is a product from Microsoft that provides a 360-degree view of the conference room, high-quality audio, and video that tracks the flow of conversation among multiple speakers. 

We were able to create a conference room to conference room panorama view of the briefing.  The partner could see our entire crew here in Redmond, and likewise we could see the partner in their location.  At one point we also included a subject matter expert on Office Communications Server while he was at a conference – in Barcelona! This allowed the human element into what would typically be PowerPoint and voiceovers; we could see each other and react to visual cues of our content resonating. 

Excited about what we achieved with our partner, I told my son about this.  Challenging as he always is, he informed me that web cameras are not new, and he does it all the time with his friends on IM.  All true, but we have done things differently, tying in all the things around a business briefing with multiple people in several  locations around the world at a conference room level for a fraction of the cost.  We saved all the hours of multiple people traveling across country, prevented carbon waste from jet exhaust without any high overhead in equipment or administration.  At the end of the day we did exactly what we mutually had set out to do:  deepen our partner’s knowledge of Microsoft’s technology so they could make smart decisions about the future direction of their products.  This is not how I did business 6 months ago, but now an essential way I will do business going forward. 

Paul Burstein

Senior Business Development Manager