Collaboration Apps Unite Employees Efforts

Hipbone, SiteScape, eDial strengthen links between corporations, partners.

Enhancements to collaboration tools from developers Hipbone Inc., SiteScape Inc. and eDial Inc. aim to get corporate employees and partners working together more closely.

Hipbone late last month launched Synetry 3.5, which is an Internet-based customer service platform with new extensions to the Synetry Chat+ text chat application.

A key part of the upgrade is a new Supervisor Console that permits real-time queue monitoring against response-time thresholds and allows customer service supervisors to drill down into sessions being handled by a specific agent. Supervisors are also given the ability to coach agents by sending private chat instructions to an agent during a customer service session or creating a three-way session with the supervisors chat comments visible to both the agent and the customer. Supervisors are also able to re-balance agents across queues in response to spikes or drop-offs in inbound requests for live assistance.

The Synetry FileShare application in this release provides users with a wizardlike environment that converts and uploads Microsoft Corp.s Office documents to a secure repository for online collaboration using Synetry Cobrowse or Synetry Chat+, said Hipbone officials, in San Carlos, Calif.

At the same time, SiteScape, of Maynard, Mass., released Forum Program Management, which is an add-on that brings project management capabilities to the companys SiteScape Enterprise Forum 7.0 collaboration application. The add-on allows users to drill down into multiple projects from a dashboard interface.

Forum Program Management creates a searchable record of project or program activities, including meeting history, agendas, action items and calendars for reuse or reference at a later date.

Finally, eDial, of Waltham, Mass., announced Audio Presenter 4.0, an audio conferencing appliance with integrated Web presentation capabilities that can be installed in a companys existing telephone and data networks.

New features in Version 4.0 include the capability to record and play back conference calls, support for "hand raising" to allow questions to be asked during conferences and shared control of PowerPoint presentations. Audio Presenter 4.0 also offers password protection, support for up to 96 call participants and bulk generation of dial-in access codes.

Audio Presenter 4.0s enhancements will make it that much easier for eDial customer NerveWire Inc. to abandon its use of audio and Web conferencing service providers, according to NerveWire CIO Mark Greenlaw.

"Until now, weve had to go to external service providers to get recording and playback of audio," said Greenlaw, in Newton, Mass. "When youre doing things like Webinars, with a large number of people on the call, the new version will let people raise their hands to ask a question in a much more graceful manner." He said the shared PowerPoint presentation capabilities will let users hand off control of a presentation to other users at different sites.

Easing reliance on outside service providers is a key cost-savings issue, especially at a management consulting and systems integration services company such as NerveWire, which relies heavily on conference calls, Greenlaw said.

Greenlaw estimated that an hour-long conference call with 10 attendees typically costs $150 via a service provider, compared with just $24 via Audio Presenter, where NerveWire pays only for long-distance charges.