Skepticism reigned when Ascolta's training department first heard its e-learning vendor was adding video capabilities to its solution. "When they rolled it out, we were thinking, 'OK, we're going to look like Max Headroom from mtv,' " says Kevin Marz, vice president of business development for Ascolta. "It isn't full-motion video quality by any stretch of the imagination, but it's much better than Max Headroom."
Other departments within the Irvine, Calif., company agreed. "Now, every month we use the solution to host our company update meeting," Marz says.
In the past, videoconferencing capabilities tended to arrive at a company through the IT department, in part because the products required significant amounts of technical expertise to run. Now, video capabilities enter an organization through the training department, often as part of an e-learning system. And because training touches so many parts of the company, the videoconferencing capabilities can quickly beam into other parts of the organization. Marz says his company had no clue it would use the system for anything beyond its training activities when it first bought the Centra system. "But you quickly become creative," he adds. "Now that you've made the investment, you say, 'Hey, you know what? We talk to these people via conference call, why can't we do it with a video component as well?'" —E.K.