Adobe's announcement of the release to market of Acrobat Connect Pro 7.5 comes on the brink of the flu season in the northern hemisphere. H1N1, commonly called the swine flu, potentially means the closure of facilities and offices in affected geographic locations and the illness of a large number of employees at the same time. One strategic measure that local governments will implement is social distancing — limiting contact between individuals through closures of public and private gathering areas — as a measure to combat the spread during an outbreak:
“If severity increases, public health officials may recommend a variety of methods for increasing the physical distance between people (called social distancing) to reduce the spread of disease, such as school dismissal, child care program closure, canceling large community gatherings, canceling large business-related meetings, spacing workers farther apart in the workplace, canceling non-essential travel, and recommending work-from-home strategies for workers that can conduct their business remotely.” Source: CDC Guidance for Businesses and Employers To Plan and Respond to the 2009-2010 Influenza Season
The Public Health Department of the County of Santa Clara puts it plainly in a flyer on social distancing: “The Health Officer has the legal authority to order social distancing measures.” Enterprises may have no choice regarding closures of offices or facilities if H1N1 outbreak becomes severe in areas.
Use of web conferencing grew after the Dotcom bust, and it became popular again after 9/11 and SARS because of the designed capability to enable real-time collaboration for physically separated teams and employees. Web conferencing is a key technology to keep telecommuting employees connected with the work environment. It also permits enterprises to reduce travel by employees to other work sites for meetings, training, and conferences. In the case of closures caused by social distancing, web conferencing can help the enterprise to stay connected with employees and enable employees to continue to function in their jobs.
Adobe’s Acrobat Connect Pro stacks up well against the three big enterprise web conferencing players (Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft). Customers can purchase Adobe’s solution as software-as-a-service, on-premise, and as a managed service. The 7.5 release provides an interesting new capability called “Universal Voice” by Adobe. Adobe has created a Flash Media Gateway that transcodes audio codecs to enable the streaming of any phone-based audio into a Connect Pro meeting, thereby permitting the streaming of the audio over the meeting’s built-in VOIP and permitting the recording of the audio through the meeting’s recording capabilities. The bottom line to this capability is that an enterprise can use one or more telephone conferencing providers with Connect Pro and get audio integration with the Connect Pro web conference meetings.
Adobe's challenge is getting enterprises' attention over Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft - since many enterprises already have those vendors' solutions as part of their collaboration platform or as a contracted service.