IT experts: need some recommendations for business communications software

I’m trying to research software, systems, or methodology that would help an organization communicate effectively between the different, geographically distant units within it. This would, presumably, involve conference calling, voice communications, files, pictures, etc. In essence, we would want to be able to simulate a physical meeting, except over a computer.

I also want to know what the best way is to establish a permanent network connection between different units using the above method. One of the big problems we are having is trying to establish calls on the computer, getting disconnected, problems sending files— generally connectivity issues. It would be nice to not have to deal with that problem.

Any recommendations, links, help would be GREATLY appreciated.

I’m not an IT person, but my company uses Lotus Notes and Net Meeting, if that’s any help.

This might be one place to start

This one was top rated, and it’s the one my company uses. Seems to work OK.

Here a review of conference apps

Here’s the pc mag raindance review

For day-to-day work, I would recommend just going with MSN Messenger. You can do app-sharing, file-sharing, instant messaging, whiteboard drawing (if you’re good with your mouse), and inviting multiple people into the chat. About the only downside is that you need to be ready to put up your “busy” flag or you can start getting spammed by people with questions about the project–but that will be true of any instant messaging app.

It also apparently has a webcam interface–though I suspect that you would do better to just go for a plain conference call if you just want to be able to do a meeting.

MSN Messenger also does voice chat. My partner (in Georgia) and I use it all the time.

The large company I work for has different solutions for each of those. Sametime for IM, Notes for eMail. Shared files are done on Windows file servers. Webex is used for internet meetings and AT&T is our conference call provider.

The combination of Webex and AT&T works well for meetings. Microsoft’s product is Livemeeting, which is another standard internet meeting software and works well.

You might consider Webex if you want to try a hosted service.
They’ve got “meeting center” and “training center”.

I use Windows Live Messenger (which is what they call MSN Messenger nowadays) for many of these purposes; the voice chat - including connection to a phone - is better quality (in my experience) than Skype - the video chat is great and for me, the ability to use messenger to mediate a remote assistance session is invaluable.