Companies like Cisco Systems have been exploring the limits of virtual meetings and conference for both large internal meetings, such as Annual Meetings, and for conferences to which they invite clients (DeVault, 2011). Reports from participants and from Cisco are that these meetings are highly effective, cost effective, and fun -- particularly when virtual spaces such as Second Life can be employed as a venue (DeVault, 2011).
As more and more companies go the virtual conference route, spending information becomes more available. For example, Stratus Technologies, which make high-end servers, held a virtual summit to which they wanted to attract high numbers of international attendees and C-Suite executives. The virtual conference cost considerably less than the traditional conference that Stratus Technologies held in the past. The bill for the virtual conference was $100,000 -- approximately one-fifth as much as the event would have cost in a traditional venue. The company coordinating this virtual event was Unisfair, a virtual event specialist company located in Menlo Park ("Unisfair," 2011).
Describe a project network that could implement this project plan.
Virtual meeting and communication management systems will be used in place of actual face-to-face conference sessions and team meetings. The virtual teams will collaborate via Cisco Telepresence or Go-to-Meeting. And the formal conference will use Go-to-Webinar and Go-to-Training as virtual platforms.
Cisco TelePresence virtual meeting rooms permit collaborative technology of sufficiently high caliber to enable virtual meetings at hotels -- and make the meetings an effective and economical alternative to face-to-face meetings (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). Cisco TelePresence meeting rooms are located at a range of hotels and meeting places across the globe, and new meeting places are planned (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). In the United States, meeting rooms have been made available through partnerships with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). through an affiliation with Tata Communications (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). As a result of this collaboration, meeting rooms are available in Brussels, Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Sydney, Toronto, and other major cities (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). Marriott International has meeting rooms in 25 cities, including Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington (King, 2008; Martin, 2010). Virtual meetings at hotels are experienced positively in part due to the attentive nature of a hotel environment and in part due to the sophisticated collaboration technology provided by Cisco TelePresence (King, 2008; Martin, 2010).
For formal presentation of conference speakers and large conference-based meetings, Go-to-Webinar will be used. For $948 per year or $99 per month, Go-to-Webinar can be used with groups of up to 1000 members. From the same company, Go-to-Training provides interactive education and training platform for $1,428 per year or $149 per month. Go-to-Meeting platform, which permits 15 meeting attendees at a time (although this number can be extended to 25 meeting attendees for multiple users), costs $468 per year and $49 per month, and is a competitive alternative to Cisco TelePresence.
Describe how you would allocate resources for this project.
The funding allocations listed below assume that the conference will be an entirely virtual event and that all participants, including the original virtual team members, will pay their own way to participate in the conferences. In addition, the budget allocations assume that the Project Manager will be the only paid employee for these activities of Ducks Unlimited, and that the collaboration conducted by the virtual teams will also be entirely on free or inexpensive platforms. Given these figures, and as Kirkman (2002) found "A central issue for virtual teams is the difficulty of assigning monetary values to costs that are not easily quantified" (p.1).
$2,000 = Ready Virtual Teams for Virtual Collaboration, Meetings, & Conferencing
$18,000 = Coordination & Facilitation of Virtual Team Processes
Cost attributable to overarching functions or objectives, as delineated = Ensure Deliverables (Project Charter, Virtual Team Project Proposals)
$20,000 = Establish & Manage Contracts with Virtual Meeting Providers
$180,000 = Establish & Manage Contracts with Virtual Conference Providers
Organizations are challenged by the explicit and complex requirements of virtual ad hoc teams (Kirkman, et al., 2002). These challenges include the need to build cohesion and trust that results in a team identity (Kirkman, et al., 2002). If team identity is previously been established -- as is likely with the project focus of the virtual teams in this Ducks Unlimited effort -- then the isolation that can occur between the teams, which akin to knowledge or operational silos in corporations, will need to be addressed (Kirkman, et al., 2002). A dedicated project manager can go a long way toward mediating the effects of virtual team work.
DeVault, G. (2011). Social Media Research - What 20,000 network engineers know that you don't. About.com. A New York Times Company. Retrieved http://marketresearch.about.com/b/2011/04/28/social-media-research-what-20000-network-engineers-know-that-you-don't.htm
Google Docs. (2012). Retrieved http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=37371
King, R. (2008, May 5). Virtual conferences' home advantage: Companies like Cisco Systems are hosting virtual events to attract participants who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend. Business Week. References http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc2008054_560356.htm
Kirkman, B.L., Rosen, B., Gibson, C.B., Tesluk, P.E., and McPherson, S.O. (2002, August). Five challenges to virtual team success: Lessons from Sabre, Inc. Academy of Management Executive, 16 (3), 67-79. Retrieved http://turbo.kean.edu/~jmcgill/sabre.htm