Well, according to the sales agent...
You probably had a number of terms thrown at you when you first heard about FirstClass®: it's an email system with calendaring and shared contacts; it's a collaborative communications environment with shared workspaces and threaded discussion forums; it's a unified communications tool with Secure Social Networking and Web sites and RSS feeds. Add instant messaging, voice services, directory services, email archiving services... In fact, according to your sales
representative, there's very little FirstClass® cannot do. Well, they're in sales. That's what they're supposed to say.
Oddly enough, they're not too far off the mark. FirstClass® is an incredibly powerful and comprehensive selection of collaboration and communication tools. And yet, because it has so much functionality, you can easily miss out on some of the best ways to use it. Trust us, even veteran FirstClass® users often don't realize just how much power they have...
Let's demystify for a moment...
First of all, it's best to think of FirstClass as a Service as well as an Application. Microsoft® Word is an application. Gmail® is a service. Adobe® Photoshop is an application. Facebook® is a service. They are all targeted, specialized offerings designed to produce a specific type of content. FirstClass® is a service application suite, designed to manage and integrate the daily operation of a collaborative communications environment. This means that FirstClass® is somewhere to be, not just something to do.
The closest analogy would be Facebooik® (or LiveJournal®, Second Life®, any type of online community). Endusers apply for or are granted an account, establish a unique identity, and interact with other members of the community. They share resources, participate in both synchronous and asynchronous communication, and use the service as a portal to their other environments. FirstClass® is the same type of environment, except that it contains a feature set geared towards the professional environment, and OTSW (the secure social networking component) is geared towards a more controlled environment. Instead of friends chatting about the latest movie release, coworkers chat about the agenda for the upcoming staff meeting. Instead of posting links to YouTube®, teachers share
educational resources and establish a school-wide Helpdesk. Instead of Blogging about boyfriends, students participate in online course components. Okay, sometimes boyfriends are involved.
FirstClass® is so much more than just an email application. FirstClass® is a content management system. FirstClass® is an online community. FirstClass® is a voicemail application. FirstClass® is an Active Directory system. The list goes on. Since the range of available features can be overwhelming, however, it may be best to start with the fact that FirstClass® is an access management application -- users have accounts, and FirstClass® manages the features and functionality those users enjoy. Users access their accounts through a Web browser, mobile device, or the dedicated FirstClass® client, and are presented with their Desktop, their
portal to the FirstClass® universe. The range and scope of that universe is up to you.
FirstClass® is designed to go beyond the box. Although there are a wide range of features within FirstClass® itself, its true power lies in the ability to reach out to the other applications on your network and bring them under the FirstClass® umbrella. FirstClass® Application Services has the power to embed reporting and control applications within a user's FirstClass® environment that can integrate data and functions of your SIS, student accounts, LDAP, workflow applications, and more. You can have your FirstClass® be an active controller or a passive recipient, and even modify the behavior of FirstClass® itself based upon your existing
The power really is yours...