eRoom, PlaceWare Forge Sharper Collaboration Tools

Collaboration software and service providers have come out with new versions of their offerings to meet customers' diverse needs.

Collaboration software and service providers have come out with new versions of their offerings to meet customers diverse needs.

Digital work space software developer eRoom Technology Inc. last week made available Version 6.0 of its hosted service, which enables teams of employees and partners to share data in a secure electronic meeting place.

Separately, Web meetings service provider PlaceWare Inc. earlier last month introduced an on-site, managed service offering for companies whose corporate firewall policies prohibit them from using its Web-based service.

Chief among the new features in 6.0 is support for multistep approvals management, first introduced in the Cambridge, Mass., companys licensed software offering in February. This feature automates the approvals process. "The approvals database will help the industry an amazing amount," said Bliss Kaye, CIO of International Design and Construction Online Inc., an Annapolis, Md., company that runs a Web portal for the construction and design industry. "It will take care of the approval process for documents and drawings and keep our customers from having to buy courier services. Itll save them time and money."

Kayes company implements at its Web portal for "Project Rooms." Architects, contractors and engineers use the rooms to collaborate on plans and projects. Kaye estimated that automating the approvals process will shave 10 days off the design cycle, five off the bidding process and 12 off construction time. "In this business, time is money," she said.

Other new features in 6.0 include technology to make it easier to establish and manage cross-enterprise business processes, particularly those geared to eRooms key vertical industries, such as professional services companies, high-tech manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions and government agencies.

While eRoom is designed more for ongoing projects, PlaceWare is used more for one-time meetings and conferences. PlaceWare, of Mountain View, Calif., announced an on-site version of its Web meeting and collaboration service known as PlaceWare Conference Center On-Site Solution.

The managed services offering is a hardware, software and maintenance bundle with the same e-meeting features as PlaceWares regular hosted service.

Company officials said the on-site, managed services offering is designed for companies that are required to keep their Web conferencing services on premise.