Hosted Application Eases Project Collaborations for Geographically-Distributed Teams

PBworks, a leading provider of hosted collaboration solutions for business, announced its upcoming Real-Time Collaboration Update, including true Voice Collaboration. Geographically-distributed teams will be able to work together on writing content, creating meeting notes in real-time, working together during impromptu conference calls, and enjoying other interactive features which previously required a face-to-face meeting.
Alternative real-time collaboration tools (i.e., web conferencing), are generally standalone products for "appointment" collaboration. The typical use case for these tools is when a user needs to schedule a meeting to review materials in another application such as PowerPoint. In this instance, a user arranges the meeting, sends out links and dial-in information to all interested parties, usually via email, waits for acceptances, and finally, waits for all parties to arrive.
In contrast, PBworks is making real-time collaboration a natural extension of its existing tools. When a user needs to connect with one or more colleagues to gather their feedback, he or she simply calls them to the relevant wiki page using the built-in instant messaging, and available users can see edits being made in real-time and chat about them. When a telephone conversation is necessary, available users can be added to an ad-hoc conference call with a single click that initiates an outbound call to the user's regular telephone.

Key features
The Real-Time Collaboration Update announcement covers four new features in the PBworks suite:
  • IM Collaboration
  • Live Notifications
  • Live Editing
  • Voice Collaboration
IM Collaboration allows users to see who else in their organization is actively using PBworks at that moment, and enables them to send them instant messages from within the product. In addition, users can summon others to the workspace page they're working on if they'd like input using the "send a link" function built into the IM system.
Live Notifications alerts users to activity within their organization in real-time, rather than requiring them to await an asynchronous email notification. Users can select which notifications they want to receive, based on their preferences (known as "starring" or "following" particular pages) and other users, and the system will stream relevant notifications to whatever page a user is viewing.
Live Editing will eliminate the need to use other web conferencing services (such as WebEx, PlaceWare, GoToMeeting, etc.) to share a PBworks editing session. Whenever a user is editing a workspace page, other users viewing that page see the edits appear in real-time. When combined with IM Collaboration, Live Editing makes it easy to convene an ad hoc meeting for working synchronously.
Voice Collaboration is the fastest and easiest way to set up a conference call with other members of the organization. Rather than setting up a conference line in advance and asking attendees to dial in, PBworks Voice Collaboration allows a user to initiate an instant conference call by dialing the desired participants. He or she can add new participants at any time, and each conference call is recorded and stored for later review. Voice Collaboration can even be triggered using an iPhone, making it the first conference calling application that works on that platform.
Putting it all together
If a user is editing a page and realizes that he or she needs the input of other team members, he or she can summon them to the appropriate page using IM Collaboration, start a Live Editing session, and use Voice Collaboration to initiate an instant conference call, all in a fraction of the time it would take to set up a web conference, set up a conference call line, and communicate the details to the intended participants.
IM Collaboration, Live Notifications, and Live Editing will be available to Project and Legal Edition customers on November 17. There is no charge for this free upgrade.
Voice Collaboration will be available in early 2010.
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