PBworks has released its voice collaboration offering that allows one-click voice conferencing from within their collaboration product. We’ve written about PBworks before, but for those who need a recap, PBworks was founded in 2005 and has grown to the point where they host over one million workspaces for upwards of 85000 businesses.
PBworks have noticed what they’re calling a “grand convergence” where collaboration products, voice conferencing, telcos and others are converging in a space that sees multiple communication modalities available depending on the context of work participants are engaged in. They contend that shifting modalities (ie moving from text to voice) should not require a change of platforms. To this end PBworks is letting customers integrate voice into their collaboration workflow.
What this means in practice is that, rather than setting up a conference line in advance and asking attendees to dial in, a user can initiate an instant conference call by clicking participants names. In Users can also add new participants at any time, and each conference call is recorded and stored for later use and review. Voice Collaboration is device agnostic and can be triggered using a desk phone or mobile.
PBworks wants to distinguish itself from the traditional conference call services which it says are most useful for “appointment” collaboration. A user must set up a meeting, send out dial-in information to all interested parties, usually via email, and then wait for all parties to arrive. This overhead generally limits usage to scheduled calls.
In contrast, PBworks is trying to make voice collaboration a natural extension of its collaboration suite. When a user needs to connect with one or more others to gather valued input, he can add a colleague to an ad-hoc conference call with a single click that initiates an outbound call to the colleague’s regular phone. He can call anyone who already has a PBworks user profile, or manually dial any other telephone number of a person he wants to include.
The Voice Collaboration beta is available to all Business and Legal Edition customers, as well as Business Edition free trial users. During the beta period, Voice Collaboration will be free, with a cap of 200 call minutes for free trials. The calling area is limited to the US and Canada.
After the beta period ends, PBworks Business and Legal Edition customers will receive 200 minutes/month at no extra charge. Those who need more minutes can upgrade to Nationwide 300, which costs $5/user/month and provides 300 minutes/user/month. Heavy users can upgrade to Nationwide 2000 for $20/user/month and receive 2,000 minutes/user/month.