Communication and collaboration are the two C’s of web 2.0. In many ways, the extent to which you are able to grasp the importance of these two concepts directly relates to the potential of your company. In this rapidly “shrinking” world we live in, myriad tools for communication are emerging. For example, cutting-edge communication technology, such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), can be harnessed to provide a viable, inexpensive and convenient option for holding meetings and conferences, or simply discussing business with a client. Other, more widely used technology, such as e-mail, text messaging and instant messaging, also are effective ways to share information at the click of a button.

In today’s world, your ability to collaborate with associates and alliances could mean the difference between a “surviving” business or a “thriving” business. The more avenues you open up for collaboration, the more likely it is that your business will succeed.

One-Click Collaboration

I recently had a conversation on this topic with a friend who is a systems engineer for the telecommunications giant Nortel. He predicted that the new VIOP-based technologies will be used extensively in the future. He went on to show me the software that Nortel employees currently use. Integrated into Outlook, their software single-handedly facilitates phone calls, instant messaging and video conferencing. Nortel employees are always in touch with one another; no matter where in the world they are, they’re really only a click away from collaboration.

One of the most popular VOIP-based programs is Skype. Owned by eBay and based in Luxembourg, Skype allows people around the globe to communicate via chat, voice and even video through broadband and Wi-Fi. The company’s basic communication services are free of charge; because of this, Skype has quickly gained a huge international clientele, especially in Asia and Eastern Europe. It also offers premium services you have to pay to use, such as making and receiving calls to and from landlines and mobile phones, as well as voicemail and call forwarding. (Along with Skype, companies such as Vonage also offer VOIP services, but with a fee.)

I’m an avid Skype user. Despite the tremendous benefits of being able to communicate with anyone in the world free of charge, I often find myself using the technology for simple tasks, like sending a short message to someone in an office down the hall, or to someone in the same office who may be on the phone. Often I’ll rely on it in when I just want to get a quick note to someone without having a 30-minute conversation. Sometimes a project meeting requires input from another of our team members who could be anywhere in the country or world; we can easily add them to our conversation with couple of clicks. With the most up-to-date version of Skype, for instance, you can conference with up to 150 users. Training could be facilitated easily through Skype, as well.

Modern Communication

Technology has now made it possible to hold conferences, phone calls, chats and more, all through your personal computer and the comfort of your office or home. My philosophy in business is that if a new idea is inexpensive - or, even better, free - it is always worth trying. Skype has turned out to be well worth the time we’ve spent learning how to use it. In the future, we hope to hold committee meetings, conduct pod casts, and facilitate live question and answer sessions through Skype for our various websites. As I write this article, there are 6,873,823 Skype users online - some of them might be your existing or future customers, vendors, friends or family.

You can use Skype to get in touch with the staff at any time. Once you go to theSkype.comwebpage and download the program, simply click on the button that says “Add Contact” and enter “FinishingTalk” in the blank. You will be given the option of adding FinishingTalk of Forest City, NC. Make sure to let us know that you read about us inFinishing Todaymagazine.

By employing modern communication technologies in your day-to-day business functions, you will be more likely to stay one step ahead of your competitors. Not only will you find yourself opening up to possibilities that did not exist before, you will benefit from the speed, reliability, and convenience of these services. Who can argue with that?