Integrating New Technologies with Audio Conferencing

Integrating New Technologies with Audio Conferencing

Audio conferencing in various forms has been around for a long time. There are few in the business world who have not participated in an audio conference at one time or another, whether it was a toll-free reservationless call, an operator assisted event call or an audio call in conjunction with a web conference or webinar. In fact audio conferencing has been around for so long it is sometimes considered old news compared to newer technologies such as web conferencing and the various forms of video conferencing (room-based video, desktop video, mobile video, etc.). It would be easy to assume that audio conferencing is a mature technology that has had no new developments for some time as everyone's attention has turned to flashier alternatives. That assumption is wrong!

There have been a number of exciting new developments in audio conferencing in recent years as providers have taken advantage of new technologies and created varying degrees of integration with them to powerfully and conveniently support modern employee work habits. Some of these new points of integration include:

  • Outlook Integration
    Audio conferencing services are now able to automatically create an Outlook invitation that will populate the calendar of its recipients. This automatically schedules the call for every participant and includes information required to join the call such as dial-in number and passcode. The Outlook invitation may also include a link to join the conference as described below. This approach allows participants to join a call without dialing an 800 number and entering a password.
  • Web Portal
    Web portals bring some visual aspects of web conferencing to the audio conferencing world. Some audio conferencing services provide a web portal option where an administrator can visually manage an audio call. The call's moderator uses the portal to visually monitor the entrance and exit of participants and also mute and unmute participants and perform chat and Q&A functions. The portal is also accessed by conference participants who received a link in their Outlook invitation as noted above. Those participants click on the link in their invitation and access the portal where they have the option of merely joining the audio portion of the call or also providing a photo and other pertinent information about themselves which can be seen by other participants during the call. These features enhance audio calls by making them easier to access, making them more personal, and providing supplemental methods of communication.
  • Event Registration and Abbreviated Entry
    Audio conferencing providers have developed customized event registration applications that allow users to manage event calls according to their specific needs. These applications are made available to participants in advance of the call for registration purposes and collect whatever data is needed from the registrant. An example would be continuing education seminars that are attended by various professional groups such as accountants or lawyers. The party running the seminar can check the event registration application in advance and make sure all appropriate parties have registered for the event (and no un-appropriate ones!). The app can also provide abbreviated dial-in methods for participants once they have been determined to be legitimate. This can save them from dialing up to 20 digits to join the event.
  • Mobile Conferencing and Quick Start
    The modern employee uses their mobile device more and more and cannot reasonably be tied to a desktop phone or computer without mobility options. Audio conferencing providers now offer mobile apps that receive invitations to audio events and allow participants to join them at the push of a button. They also offer streamlined methods for mobile device users to initiate their own audio events.
  • Web Integration
    Audio is a critical component of web conferencing so presenters and participants can be heard as well as seen. Many web conferencing services offer integrated audio that is streamed over the internet. User dissatisfaction with this form of audio conferencing is quite common as the audio quality can be poor and suffer from internet jitter and latency. A better alternative is to use an audio service provider with integrated links to web conferencing products. The integration allows web conference moderators to visually control and monitor audio traffic from the web tool itself. The moderator is able to monitor both the web and audio from one place while providing audio that is not internet based and therefore of higher quality.

Integrating all these new technologies with audio conferencing provides the end user with a valuable business service.

August 26, 2014 | Categories: , , , , | Tags: Audio and Web Conferencing services, Communication, Conference calls, Conference Service Provider, Conferencing, Event management, Meetings, Mobile Conferencing, Technology, Timed Agendas, Two Rivers Conferencing


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