Serving up seminars by remote

Taking to the road is a whole lot easier when there are guaranteed links to home. For Meryl Whetton that got easier last year when Sydney-based events organizer MVM upgraded its network.

With events as diverse as conferences for 500 in capital cities to running a seminar in Western Australia's wine growing Margaret River, Whetton, MVM general manager, said remote access is a must-have function.

The company, which also organizes seminars and conferences across the Asia-Pacific region, has its parent company in London which, along with a Dubai office - set up in October last year - runs events in Europe.

MVM staffers, constantly on the move and in a fast-growing business, faced the need to make quick decisions and found it hard, because of so much time 'on the road' to manage important event information. In its early days, the company installed Microsoft Small Business Server as a tool to provide centralized e-mail server and data management and to share information between staff, while maintaining security of confidential client information.

The company has a full-time staff of eight people and a contractor. It runs conferences ranging from two days to five days at various sites when staff numbers can swell dramatically with catering, banqueting, security and production personnel and, frequently, entertainers added to deal with delegates which can number between 100 and 500. While executives and sales staff are onsite at events they also need to stay in touch with the ongoing operations back in the office. MVM runs at least six large conferences a year and numerous smaller events like roadshows, product launches, cultural programs, corporate meetings, even a mid-year ball so there's a constant flow of enquiries, incoming bookings, reservations, planning, to be dealt with.

Rather than run its own network to handle the varied business functions, MVM outsources to Robert Crane from the Computer Information Agency. Crane said the server was chosen for its Exchange and firewall functionality as well as cost-effectiveness.

Recently, Whetton made the decision to upgrade to meet growing demands for storage and e-mail. The company moved to Microsoft's Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition. As well as meetings its needs for increased functionality, Whetton said the new server had produced "huge savings" in time and staff costs.

"Now, delegates can sign up for conferences and seminars online which is a massive benefit," she said.

"Previously, there would have been five or six pages faxed in for each delegate, which then had to be entered into the system. Now, we have immediate access to all the information we need anywhere."

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