Novartis Pharma has announced plans to extend its use of Web conferencing tools to its Europe operations, in order to link together its medical and sales teams and potentially to communicate directly with customers.

The decision follows the successful use of Web conferencing in Novartis Pharma in the United States, where it has achieved significant cost savings through introducing Web conferencing services, using technology and services provided by PlaceWare a US provider of Internet-based business communications, conferencing and collaboration tools.

The cost savings from web conferencing are said to have been have been made from a reduction in the need for associates to attend internal meetings in person. Savings have been achieved in both travel expenses and the time people spend travelling to meeting.

Soy Modelly, project owner for the web-conferencing program, said having to bring over 300 people on a regular basis was a costly logistical problem, particularly when meetings may have only last an hour. "Now we can deliver the information in real-time, without any compromise."

PlaceWare Web Conferencing is currently used for training sales associates – integrating telephone and face-to-face contact with web conferencing.

Novartis now plans to accelerate the use of this new communication channel throughout Europe. Future possible developments include using the Web communications tool for medical and marketing teams to interact across Europe, and to communicate directly with customers.

Thomas Torf, VP of Worldwide Sales and Professional Services said in a company release that PlaceWare had helped save such a great deal of time and money. "It enables organisations like Novartis to focus on its core business even further."

The only requirements to use PlaceWare are a Web browser and a phone. The firm, which claims over 2300 corporate customers, says it offers a complete family of services that can accommodate business needs for small collaborative meetings to large online events with thousands of participants.