AOL

At a Glance

  • Anytime, anywhere collaboration
  • One-click access to colleagues
  • Ad-hoc brainstorming
  • 2.4 million minutes of use a month

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At AOL, Collaboration is a Family Affair

The Huffington Post attracts 94 million views a month. Advertising.com serves more than 3 billion impressions a day. Adap.tv delivers 10 billion global video impressions a month. 

These three properties represent just a tiny slice of today's AOL, a $2.3 billion constellation of brands and experiences that inform, entertain, and connect the world. The Internet pioneer, once famous for cementing "You've got mail!" into the digital lexicon, now connects a quarter-billion visitors with some of the world's most respected journalists, artists, and musicians. They access this content through AOL brands including Tech Crunch, Mapquest, Engadget, MovieFone, and StyleList.  It's all part of the company's mission: to build brands that make the Internet better – period.

Doing so, though, requires AOL's 5,000 employees (known as AOLers) to work together in ways that let creative thinking and new ideas take the lead, no matter where those creative thinkers may live or work. "The culture at AOL is one big family," says Jimmy Appleby, network engineer for Unified Communications at AOL. "And we need to optimize, innovate, and collaborate on a daily basis."

In this always-on environment, you won't find anyone waiting around to see if they've got mail. Instead, says Appleby, AOLers engage with one another in any fashion that helps them "propel our business to the next level." For this, he credits Polycom's RealPresence CloudAXIS software, which lets AOLers collaborate face-to-face without worrying about the application, system, or device they're using. "Anybody, anywhere, anytime can get connected by one click. You can have video, audio, and content solutions all from a meeting invite."

AOL once had only room-based videoconferencing systems that required meetings to be scheduled well ahead of time, which prevented the spontaneity the company needed to spark a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Today, with AOLers joining meetings from their desks and mobile devices, it's a new world. "Scheduling is now a thing of the past," says Appleby. "Ad-hoc conferences are now the only way to conference here at AOL."

In fact, AOLers use video collaboration an average of 2.4 million minutes every month. Appleby says this widespread use – the equivalent of 2,000 hours a day – stems from the top-down support the effort has received among AOL executives, who believe video collaboration must be ubiquitous "from the boardroom to the basement." It's so crucial that the company has identified Polycom collaboration as one of the top three mission-critical tools for the business.

AOL's wide-open, work-the-way-you-want approach seems perfectly suited to a company where staffers defy distance by overcoming more than miles. "Distance obviously is going to separate you and your colleagues, but flexibility is really what's going to bring it all together."