The IT Leader’s Guide to Collaboration Huddle Rooms

There are several new realities to which organizations must respond. These realities hold no bias. They impact companies from all around the world and across industries. And they all are driven by one thing: technology.

The telecommuting phenomenon has spread worldwide, with 70 percent of professionals working remotely at least one day a week, and 53 percent working remotely for at least half of the week. Although employees are no longer forced to travel to headquarters or local offices to complete tasks — eliminating costly trips and even long, stressful commutes — employees still crave face-to-face interaction and collaboration.

Huddle rooms help teams spark collaboration and foster candor that is sometimes difficult to achieve when employees are disconnected. And technology is what augments the huddle room experience.

What exactly is a huddle room?

It’s easy to see the term “huddle room” and imagine a small space brimming with people chatting and sharing ideas. But thanks to technology, it has become so much more than that.

TechTarget defines huddle rooms as: “Small and private meeting areas, typically seating three to six people and equipped with teleconferencing and collaboration technologies.”

Huddle rooms give employees the power and flexibility to meet on their terms — and employers the ability to improve efficiencies and streamline costs. Rather than spending thousands of dollars flying out employees for important team or client meetings, organizations can invest in technology to equip their huddle rooms with all of the features and capabilities required to have a stellar collaborative experience.

Of course, companies may have more than one huddle room in their offices, depending on the size of their business and number of employees who commute daily and who may only travel to the office for important meetings. A company could also decide to have larger-capacity conference rooms and boardrooms function in the same manner, so remote team members can connect to larger meetings — even company-wide discussions.

Video conferencing: The linchpin to successful huddle rooms
Video conferencing is a critical ingredient for great huddle room experiences. It enables team members to have face-to-face conversations that encourage better listening, more valuable conversations and more productive collaboration.

Video conferencing technology connects a multitude of endpoints and software that further augment the experience, including:

  • Collaboration platforms
  • White boarding technology
  • Display screens of various sizes

Companies use a variety of terms for video conferencing technology, such as video room connector, video teleconferencing and standards-based conferencing, At the core is software-based video room systems or endpoints with internet connection and a multi-point control unit (MCU) or bridge for multi-point conferencing.

Regardless of preferred terminology, video conferencing transforms the typical small conference room into a digitally powered huddle room that inspires creativity and supports more seamless and secure information sharing. As a result, team members from all around the world can communicate and collaborate as if they were sitting in the same room.

GlobalMeet provides video room connections to support modern teams — and empower IT

Video conferencing technology is the foundational technology that supports huddle rooms, the employees who use them and those who log in from afar. And now, GlobalMeet® is working to help organizations of all sizes bring their huddle rooms to life so they can support “any-to-any” collaboration.

The new video room connector within GlobalMeet was designed to empower teams and IT by:

  • Integrating seamlessly with the GlobalMeet platform
  • Supporting legacy and new standards-based video room systems, ultimately lowering IT costs
  • Allowing integration with emerging huddle rooms
  • Easily supporting future integrations with other collaboration solutions

Are you ready to get your huddle room up and running? Learn more about VRC from GlobalMeet.

The Most Common UC Terms Explained

There are many important Unified Communications (UC) applications and tools available today and, yet, the terminology can often be misunderstood given the many capabilities and delivery models of UC.

Unified Communications consolidates phone, email, chat, video, conferencing and collaboration, enabling communication on any device regardless of platform. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a delivery model in which a variety of communication and collaboration applications and services are outsourced to a third-party provider and delivered over an IP network, usually the public Internet.

Here’s a list of the most commonly used terms and their definitions as they relate to UC and UCaaS:

IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange)

Unified Communications includes a phone system that integrates with external components -- sharing presence information and voicemail. The phone can be accessible using your computer. Computer-based call control enables people to answer and transfer calls, initiate dials and adjust phone features from their desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Email

The second most used and critical components of any UC solution is email because it is where most digital workers keep schedules and contacts.

Unified Messaging (UM)

Messaging refers to the ability of the PBX to deliver voicemail and faxes as email to eliminate the need to check a second (or third) location for messages.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Also referred to as chat, IM is a type of communications that doesn’t require a phone conversation, IM was also the first real presence application (to see if someone was available).

Presence

Typically presence and IM are one in the same, but this term refers to a message that someone leaves to describe what communication method they prefer as well as when they are most available to be contacted.

Desktop Video

Simple video communication using embedded or attached webcams. The technology is moving fast, and it is an important consideration in the UC landscape, especially since face-to-face is one of the best ways to communicate.

Collaboration

Collaboration includes conferencing services such as voice or audio, web and video. Typically, this is team collaboration or project-based collaboration which is different from more traditional conferencing tools.

It also describes the ability to pull multiple parties together into a workspace to share documents, presentations, video, etc.

Mobility

Mobility generally enables people to use a mobile phone to perform many of the functions listed above. But, via UC, mobile can also refer to the ability to answer calls that were intended for an office line from any location – meaning that UC systems can easily function on your phone.

Application integration

Integration reduces double work and ensures data still reaches multiple systems, like customer relationship management (CRM) to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and accounting systems.

To learn more about Unified Communications, please download our new Unified Communications 101 eBook, today.

What Is a Collaboration Solution?

The unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) space is booming and as the UC&C market grows increasingly expansive, so, too, does the verbiage used to describe UC&C technology. The term “collaboration solution” is often thrown about, and while you may have heard the term before, it’s important to understand what a collaboration solution entails before you embark upon on your UC&C journey. Before you can answer the question "How can a collaboration solution help me?" you must first know the answer to "What is a collaboration solution?"

What is a Collaboration Solution?

Put simply, a collaboration solution is software that enables communication and collaboration on a grand scale. There are different iterations of collaboration solutions, with varying features like web, video and audio conferencing, as well as chat, IM, presence, file and screen sharing and even project management capabilities.

While collaboration is an action – a facet of human behavior – rather than a process that can be carried out by technology, in today’s tech heavy workplace, collaboration is nearly impossible without the proper collaboration solution.

How to Find the Right Solution

The key to finding the perfect collaboration software for your organization is to first identify your team's unique collaborative needs. How does your team communicate best, and in what areas does your collaboration struggle? What technological needs are not being met in your organization, and how is this lack of technology negatively affection communication? How can you streamline communication and facilitate better teamwork in your particular organization?

The good news is, there is a perfect collaboration solution out there for you, and PGi can help you find it. It's all about identifying your collaborative needs and finding the perfect software to meet those needs and foster collaboration in your workplace. To identify and analyze your collaboration needs, all you need to do is take PGi's Collaboration Diagnostic Survey.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to increase productivity or decrease out of pocket expenses, the Collaboration Diagnostic will provide detailed insights into what your company needs in a collaboration solution and allow you to understand more about your users in order to better frame your purchasing strategies, budgets and collaboration requirements.

4 iMeet Features for Easier Scheduling

When work gets hectic, the last thing you want to deal with is tedious administrative tasks like scheduling meetings. Instead of spending valuable time cross-referencing schedules and chasing down meeting participants, invest in a smart meeting solution like iMeet®.

iMeet boasts a number of intuitive, easy-to-use features that will make scheduling a breeze and hosting meetings a pleasure. Check out these 4 iMeet features that make for easier scheduling:

Agenday® Smart Calendar App

As an iMeet user, the free Agenday app will undoubtedly be your best friend. Agenday is a smart calendar app that will help you take control of your schedule so you can work smarter.

Agenday includes a host of features, including:
  • Free Salesforce® Integration: Log your sales calls and import contacts directly into Salesforce Premium via iMeet Agendy
  • Master Calendar: iMeet Agenday combines all of your calendars, from personal to professional, in one convenient master calendar so you can see all of your tasks, meetings and events in one place
  • Learn about Meeting Guests: Agenday analyzes meetings guests and provides you valuable information, like meeting participants' LinkedIn profiles, so you can head into your meeting informed
  • Directions to the Meeting: If you're driving to your next meet, Agenday will provide you with turn-by-turn directions to get you to your meeting on time

iMeet Microsoft® Outlook® Plug-In

For Outlook users, iMeet offers a handy Outlook plug-in that features an iMeet section right in your Outlook toolbar with shortcuts that allow you to easily manage your iMeet room through Microsoft Outlook. From the toolbar, you can schedule meetings and send meeting requests, as well as get instant access to your room, iMeet.com and iMeet support.

Record Your Meetings

The workplace can, at times, be hectic, and scheduling meetings can be a hassle when calendars are full. Sometimes it just isn't possible to get all of the necessary people into a meeting room, virtual or otherwise. Thankfully, with iMeet's recording function, you can record the entire meeting with the touch of a button and forward the recording to participants who missed the meeting.

Call Missing Guests

Let's say you've scheduled a meeting and, upon entering your meeting room, you realize that a participant is missing. Rather then having to scramble to track them down via email or IM, you can simply use iMeet to call your guests directly from the meeting. This way, even a forgetful slip-up or scheduling oversight won't prohibit meeting participants from receiving important information.

To see for yourself howto better schedule and host meetings, try iMeet free for 30 days. And don't forget to download the free iMeet Agenday app for iOS and Android!

Skype for Business Audio Integration: FAQs

You may be wondering why you would need an additional Skype® for Business audio provider above and beyond your existing deployment. Skype for Business provides VoIP audio, but there are limitations in scale, audio quality and consistency, as well as global availability and accessibility.

By adding audio conferencing integration to your UC deployment, you will have better audio quality and consistency with best-in-class, 24/7 customer support, as well as the ability for external participants such as clients, vendors and partners to join your meetings. To understand more about a Skype for Business audio integration, check out these frequently asked questions:

Q: What should I look for in Skype for Business audio provider?

A: Choosing an audio conferencing provider can be challenging, but there are certain things that you can look for to ensure you’ll be working with the right one. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Strength of Infrastructure: An audio provider with a network and infrastructure that is enterprise-grade to ensure quality so that your service is never interrupted at a critical moment.
  • 24/7 Customer Support: When you're in a meeting, you need your audio to work. But let's face it, sometimes technology is fickle, and you need a support system that can provide live global support in real time.
  • Global Presence: Your next big client could be half way around the world, which is why a global presence and commitment to delivering quality audio to participants regardless of location is essential.
  • Integrations: Your audio provider should easily integrate into popular unified communications services so that all employees can experience the same consistent audio no matter where they are.

Q: How does PGi support Skype for Business audio?

A: GlobalMeet® Audio by PGi easily integrates with Skype for Business (formerly Lync Online), Skype for Business Server and Lync Server 2013. Users can set up the audio service quickly through the familiar Skype for Business interface with no additional training needed. PGi’s global service offers 24/7 regional support, account management and in-meeting, live support to ensure customers are getting the most out of their audio conferencing solution.


Q: What are the benefits of having a Skype for Business audio provider?

A: There are many benefits to integrating an audio conferencing solution like GlobalMeet Audio to your Skype for Business meetings. Here are just a few:

  • Crystal-clear, consistent audio quality for efficient communication and productive meetings
  • Dial-in, dial-out, VoIP and toll-free options to connect participants from both inside and outside of your company
  • Global coverage to connect participants around the world
  • A reliable network that hosts more than 60 million meetings each year
  • Larger meeting capacity on calls with up to 250 participants
  • A range of audio controls for better meeting management
  • Implementation services to ensure a seamless integration
  • Flexible pricing options

Q: How does GlobalMeet Audio work with Skype for Business?

A: Nothing is worse than poor audio quality during a conference call. GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business provides high-quality audio and enables internal and external meeting participants to connect from anywhere, on any device. Whether small or large, meetings become more productive when up to 250 VoIP and PSTN connections are supported.


Are you ready to enhance your Skype for Business audio? Check out how GlobalMeet Audio's integration can give your next online meeting best-in-class, crystal-clear audio with award-winning, real-time customer support to ensure that your meetings run smoothly regardless of how or where you join.

Do I Need a Skype for Business Audio Provider?

Audio is a crucial aspect of web conferencing; without great audio, you simply cannot have a great meeting. Here at PGi, we are dedicated to spreading the gift of crystal-clear audio far and wide, which is why we offer integration of our GlobalMeet® Audio into a number of unified communications solutions like Skype®  for Business. If you’re ready to take your Skype for Business meetings to the next level, read on to learn how choosing a Skype for Business audio provider can alleviate some of the challenges and pain points of your Skype for Business meetings.

Challenge #1: Poor Audio Quality in Meetings

If you’re experiencing less than perfect audio quality during your Skype for Business meeting, it might be time to upgrade to an audio conferencing provider like GlobalMeet Audio by PGi. With our audio integration, users get the highest quality audio for web conferencing and online meetings. 

Challenge #2: Trouble Connecting Outside Participants

GlobalMeet Audio allows you to connect participants that are outside of the organization’s firewall with your Skype for Business account. PGi’s dial-in and dial-out numbers connect PSTN callers from any location, including those outside of your company. With this feature, you can start using Skype for Business for internal and external communication.

Challenge #3: Lack of Global Coverage

Lacking global PSTN coverage with your current Skype for Business features? PGi offers an expansive and reliable global network, including 140 local access numbers and 30+ telecom carriers, all optimized for audio collaboration.

Challenge #4: The Need to Let Participants Join from Any Device

Make Skype for Business even more convenient for your team by enabling participants to join meetings from any device. GlobalMeet Audio connects participants on dial-in, dial-out and Internet connections in the same Skype for Business meeting.

Challenge #5: Lack of Easy Integration with Skype for Business

Integrating an audio conferencing solution doesn’t have to be difficult. Organizations that are missing a solution that easily integrates with Skype for Business should consider GlobalMeet Audio by PGi. Our solution seamlessly integrates with the user interface and workflow of Skype for Business.

Final Thoughts

Choosing an audio conferencing provider can be challenging, but there are certain things that you can look for to ensure you’ll be working with the right one. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Strength of Infrastructure: An audio provider with a network and infrastructure that is enterprise grade to ensure quality so that your service is never interrupted at a critical moment.
  • Hybrid Audio Support: An audio conferencing provider’s network that can support hybrid audio will be key to maintaining productivity and collaboration as the workforce becomes more mobile.
  • Global Presence: Your next big client could be halfway around the world, which is why global presences and commitment to delivering quality audio to participants is important.
  • Integrations: Your audio provider should easily integrate into popular unified communications services so that all employees can experience the same consistent audio no matter where they are.

Request a trial today to learn more about how Skype for Business integrates with GlobalMeet Audio by PGi.

Getting the Most Out of GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business

PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio for Skype® for Business audio integration is a hybrid solution that seamlessly delivers enterprise-class audio for meetings anywhere around the world. It helps ensure that every meeting has the best audio quality possible, regardless of the device you choose to meet with. In order help you get the most out of your next GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business meeting, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks below:

Set Meeting Audio Options:

Pick the device that you’d prefer to use, whether it’s your computer, desk phone or mobile phone. Setting meeting audio options to best fit your needs will help save time at the start of your meetings.

There are three different ways to join the audio portion of a Skype for Business meeting. Each time you join a meeting, Skype for Business will automatically displays the Join Meeting Audio screen and guide you to select your audio option. You can choose from the following options:

  1. You can connect over Skype for Business by using your computer microphone and speakers, or a headset.
  2. You can have Skype for Business call you at a number you specify.
  3. You can call into the meeting from your desk or mobile phone.

Music on Hold Feature:

Using the music on hold feature during your meetings will make it so that participants will need to wait for you before they can begin conversation with other guests. This gives you the chance to properly introduce meeting participants if necessary.

If the music on hold feature is available for your company, you and your guests should dial in to your audience conference bridge instead of using the Skype client to attend. Why? When you use the Skype client attend, music on hold is silenced as soon as the first participant joins the meeting. As the meeting host, you can dial in and provide your moderator passcode so that guests will hear music until you join.

Mute & Unmute Audience Command:

Understanding how to use the mute button correctly will help you become a better meeting host and avoid any unnecessary background noise or distractions.

To mute all participants in the meeting, go to the Participants panel and then click Participant Actions. Select Mute Audience. All guests’ lines in the meeting will be muted.

To unmute participants, select Participant Actions then Unmute Audience. All meeting guests are automatically unmuted. Attendees on their computer will be shown a message that the presenter has unmuted the call. Participants are free to unmute themselves using their own controls.

If you don’t see a Participant Access button in your panel, your Skype for Business meeting is set to allow all people to join equally. You’ll want to go to your Skype meeting options and change who’s a presenter and who has restricted access.

End Meeting & Disconnect All Participants:

Make sure your conference call ends the right way, and that all your meeting participants are disconnected properly.

To end your audio conference call, simply use the Disconnect button. But, be aware that it leaves you meeting guests connected to the audio conference. To end the meeting and disconnect all participants, you’ll need to click More Options, and then select End Meeting.

Use these tips and tricks for your next GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business meeting to make sure your event is flawless and interruption-free. New to GlobalMeet Audio? Be sure to check out PGi’s Skype audio conferencing capabilities and see how your company can get the most out of Skype for Business.

How to Set Up GlobalMeet Audio with Skype for Business

You’ve already made the commitment to better audio, but you probably have a few questions about how to get GlobalMeet® Audio with Skype® for Business up and running. The guide that follows will walk you through the setup process and answer any questions that might arise as your prepare to use GlobalMeet Audio with Skype for Business for the first time.

Getting Started

When you signed up for GlobalMeet Audio conferencing for your Skype for Business, PGi set up an account for your organization. With this, you should receive a set of telephone access numbers and passcodes in a credentials spreadsheet. Use these credentials to configure dial-in conferencing for your users.

Set Up GlobalMeet Audio

Dial-in conferencing should be configured so that your users can join a Skype for Business audio conference call from their desk or mobile phones. Head to the Skype for Business Admin Centers in the Admin area of your Microsoft Online Portal to assign the dial in numbers and passcodes for each user.

Users can dial their assigned access numbers and passcodes to join an audio conference call. Admins have the option to set up dial-in conferencing for users one at a time or several at a time by using the Bulk Import feature.

Audio Passcodes & Music on Hold

GlobalMeet Audio conference accounts have two passcodes – moderator and participant. When setting up dial-in conferencing for Skype users, you should enter the participant passcode. Most of the time, this is the only passcode users will need to know.

When music on hold or enhanced authentication for high-risk countries is enabled (which requires music on hold), your users should dial in to the audio conference bridge, instead of using the Skype client to attend. If users dial into the Skype client to attend, music on hold is turned off as soon as the first participant joins the meeting audio.

Meeting hosts will need to know their moderator passcodes and use them when dialing into each audio conference call. This ensures that participants hear music and cannot talk to each other until the host joins.

Skype for Business Users Outside Your Organization

If you want to allow Skype for Business users outside your company to be able to communicate with internal users, you should enable SIP domain federation before setting up dial-in conferencing. Configuring SIP federation with GlobalMeet audio conferencing will allow PGi audio to accept connections to the same meeting from two different infrastructures.

Dial-In Conferencing for Single User

Admins can also set up dial-in conferencing for a single user or remove users from the settings. Setting up dial-in conferencing is especially important if you’re using Skype for Business on mobile devices. Mobile users won’t be able to join a Skype for Business meeting with the single click feature unless the meeting includes dial-in conferencing.

Dial-In Conferencing for Multiple Users

Set up multiple users with the import and export feature on Skype for Business. The Bulk Import option will let you set up dial-in conferencing for multiple users quickly and easily by importing a CSV file. First, export your users to a CSV files. Then, enter the access numbers and passcodes from your PGi credentials spreadsheet. Lastly, import the completed CSV file.

Once the above steps have been taken, you are officially ready to experience GlobalMeet Audio in your Skype for Business meetings. Prepare for crystal-clear audio and better meetings ahead.

New to GlobalMeet Audio? Be sure to check out PGi’s Skype audio conferencing capabilities and see how Skype for Business can benefit your company.

Lync to Skype for Business Update: FAQs

With the transition from Microsoft® Lync® to Skype® for Business complete, you might still have some lingering questions. To make sure you’re up on the latest from Skype for Business, PGi brings you a Skype for Business FAQ update. Read on to learn all about how to incorporate Skype for Business into your work life.

Q: What is Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync)?

A: Skype for Business is a unified business communications solution that merges the user-friendly Skype interface with enterprise Lync capabilities. The software upholds the enterprise-grade security that Lync users know and love while providing fresh features. Key features include instant messaging, one-click audio and video calling, easier file transferring and more.


Q: Is Skype for Business a rebrand or a new product?

A: It’s both! Lync officially became Skype for Business in March 2015. With this update Microsoft released a new client experience for mobile, tablets, and desktops, a new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365 under the Skype for Business name.


Q: What features have changed in Skype for Business?

A: Skype for Business offers a variety of new features for Skype and Lync users to enjoy, including a fresh look, the ability to make calls using your desk phone for audio, integration with the Skype directory, Call Monitor, Rate My Call, quick access to call controls, emoticons.


Q: What are the benefits of using Skype for Business?

A: Skype for Business makes it easier to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers and/or clients, cut business costs and better tracking your expenses. Users can:

  • Replace unnecessary business travel with a quick and easy video call to cut back on costs.
  • Set up accounts for staff, allocate credit and track everyone’s expenses, which makes it easier to budget calls and identify any areas where you can save.
  • Stay connected with colleagues through instant messaging or affordable audio calls, and keep in touch with customers with one-click audio and video calling.

Q: What is the proper migration procedure from Lync 2010 Standard to Skype for Business?

A: To correctly update from Lync 2010 to Skype for Business, users must first move to Lync 2013.


Q: What will Microsoft rebranding Lync as Skype for Business change besides the name?

A: The Lync to Skype for Business rebranding is more than just a name change. The updated software allows users to connect, share and collaborate easier than ever with an improved experience new features.

The new client experience takes on the popular Skype icons for calling, adding video and hanging up, as well as easy content sharing and telephony. Connecting with coworkers and colleagues is simple with instant messaging, and audio and video calling. Professionals can reach hundreds of millions of other Skype users outside of their organization to help build valuable business relationships.


Q: How is Skype for Business different from Skype?

A: People already using Skype will appreciate the enhanced control and ease of S4B. It’s simple to find and connect with colleagues, and you can use the devices you already have to reach businesses through an enterprise-grade, secure, IT-managed platform.


Q: How is Skype for Business different from Lync?

A: Those coming to Skype for Business from Lync will recognize all of the security and compliance you’ve come to expect. You’ll experience a fresh look and feel with simplified controls and some great new additions like Call Monitor, Rate My Call, emoticons, access to the Skype director and the ability to call from any phone.


Q: Why use Skype for Business instead of Slack?

A: There are many benefits of using Skype for Business instead of other communication platforms like Slack. Users can host free group chats, reference chat history that is automatically saved, instant message, and audio and video message. Make, receive and forward calls whether you’re in the office or on-the-go from any device – phone, laptop or mobile. Place calls on a mobile or office phone using S4B and your phone number will appear as if you were calling from your company’s main phone number. But, what’s the best part about using S4B? The user-friendly interface.


Q: How does PGi support Skype for Business?

A: PGi’s GlobalMeet Audio Hybrid for Skype for Business brings superior voice coverage, quality and service to every conference call. Users can join calls from any mobile or landline phone, host or join meetings with up to 300 participants, access over 100 local and international toll-free access point. Request a trial today to experience the superior audio quality during your next Skype for Business meeting.


Learn more about Skype for Business and how it can benefit your company!

FAQ: Skype for Business Audio Integration with GlobalMeet

Delivering enterprise-class audio for meetings anywhere around the world is one of our many goals at PGi. GlobalMeet® Audio helps ensure that every meeting has the best audio quality possible. That’s why PGi offers an audio integration solution to work with various unified communications solutions like Microsoft® Skype for Business®.  To learn more about GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business, check out our list of frequent asked questions:

Q: What is Skype for Business?

A: Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync) is a unified business communications solution that merges the user-friendly Skype interface with enterprise Lync capabilities. The software upholds the enterprise-grade security that Lync users know and love while providing fresh features. Key features include instant messaging, one-click audio and video calling, easier file transferring and more.


Q: How does PGi support Skype for Business?

A: PGi’s GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business brings superior voice coverage, quality and service to every conference call. Users can join calls from any mobile or landline phone, host or join meetings with up to 300 participants, access over 100 local and international toll-free access point.


Q: What are the benefits of using GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business?

A:  GlobalMeet is an audio conferencing solution that is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Server to bring superior voice quality to every Skype for Business meeting. There are many benefits to integrating an audio conferencing solution like GlobalMeet Audio to your Skype for Business meetings.

Here are just a few benefits:

  • Hybrid audio: Connect to the same meeting using computers (VoIP), smartphones and telephones (PSTN). Better audio quality will improve your meeting experience and productivity.
  • Dial-out: Hosts can quickly add telephone participants to any Skype for Business meeting. Dial-in, dial-out and VoIP will connect participants from both inside and outside of your company
  • Global network: Connect meeting participants from around the world. Expansive geographical coverage with more than 140 local access numbers and a reliable network that hosts more than 60 million meetings each year.
  • Shared minute & single user bundles: Shared minute plans and user bundle packages offer better value and more predictable monthly costs.
  • Better meeting management: Larger meeting capacity on calls with up to 300 participants and a range of audio controls for better meeting management.

Q: Do I need a Skype for Business audio integration?

A: You may be wondering why you would need an additional Skype for Business audio provider. Skype for Business provides VoIP audio, but there are limitations in scale, audio quality and consistency, global availability and accessibility.

If you’re experiencing any or all of the following challenges, it may be time to consider GlobalMeet by PGi:

  • Poor audio quality in Skype for Business meetings
  • Trouble connecting participants that are outside of the company’s firewall
  • Deficiency of global PSTN coverage
  • The need to let participants join meetings from any device
  • Lack of a solution that easily integrates with Skype for Business

Q: How does GlobalMeet Audio complement Skype for Business?

A: GlobalMeet Audio makes every Skype for Business meeting more productive and efficient with capacity for up to 300 VoIP and PSTN participants and the best audio quality available in web conferencing.

When integrated with GlobalMeet, Skype for Business is enhanced with the following features:

  • PSTN-based conferencing services
  • Expansive, global IP infrastructure that is optimized for audio collaboration
  • Ability to dial out to PSTN participants
  • Capability to mix Internet and PSTN callers in the same Skype for Business meeting
  • Ability to include dial in numbers in meeting invitations

Q: How does GlobalMeet compare to other audio integrations?

A: There are certain capabilities that GlobalMeet offers that the competition does not. Some of the key features that set PGi’s audio conferencing solution apart from the competition include the following:

  • Enterprise-grade global service with 24/7 regional support
  • Professional account management teams that put the customer’s needs first
  • Greater flexibility in pricing with shared minute bundles available for enterprise and users.
  • Expansive, global IP infrastructure allowing you to directly serve customers around the globe
  • US-based telecom carriers who support audio conferencing for Skype for Business

Q: What is the difference between Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Server?

A: If you’re currently using or considering using Skype for Business for IM and web conferencing, you may be wondering what the difference between Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Sever is. Here’s a brief comparison:

  • Skype for Business Online offers less than 1M minutes per month for audio. This is best for small companies with little to no global presence and less infrastructure or capital investment.
  • Skype for Business Server offers 3M+ minutes per month for audio. It’s best for company with a low number of users and high minutes per user.

Ready to see how GlobalMeet Audio for Skype for Business can help improve your next meeting? Click here to find out more.

Proving the Value of Collaboration Software and Get Buy-Ins from Decision Makers

Collaboration software transforms the way we work together and share information. Today, many organizations are leveraging those solutions and tools to promote efficient communication and innovation across the enterprise. As these companies promote social software initiatives, proving the value of collaboration software can be a challenge when trying to get buy-in from decision makers or line of business leaders.

As we’ve covered in a previous post, in order to prove the value of collaboration tools, it is crucial to first measure it. Utilizing a consistent measurement framework is key to capture the relevant data needed to properly evaluate the solution and influence the buy-in decision. This framework can provide important insights into the actual usage of collaboration tools, how they are influencing both the individual user and organizational culture, and how ROI is being generated.

One of the most effective ways to gain acceptance and get decision makers on board with your proposed collaboration solution is with real, quantitative numbers, coupled with the softer, qualitative benefits that are a bit harder to prove.

Return on Investment

Showing decision makers real numbers on ROI and increased revenue is crucial, as it is typically the most direct path to solution approval. It is important to be aware that ROI is not measured purely in profits, as there are soft benefits as well. Both must be clearly addressed when selling leadership on your collaboration software solution.

ROI Metrics to consider:

  • Reduced travel time and costs
  • Increased employee adoption and engagement
  • Increased sales and revenue
  • Increase of new ideas and improved processes
  • Decrease in Shadow IT solutions across the enterprise

Sales and Marketing Enablement

Sales and marketing enablement has a direct line to increased revenue. It should come as no surprise, that when your most effective sales people can easily share their best practices, insights, and wins across the sales organization, any gains in effectiveness among lower performers translate directly to increased revenue. Soft benefits in sales and marketing enablement include better employee morale, stronger commitment to company culture, and rapid rate of adoption and engagement.

Organizational Engagement

Engagement is key. Investing in the best collaboration platform on the market will be a waste of time and money if your organization fails to adopt it and engage with it. Promoting the wrong solution will diminish your credibility and likelihood of buy-in when you evangelize a major investment that never gets used. Conducting a 90-day pilot program in a specific department can be a great method to determine if it meets operational needs and requirements. In that timeframe, it should be obvious whether a proposed solution is the right or wrong fit for your organization.

In summary, carefully consider your collaboration solution options before proposing your solution to decision makers, weighing capabilities against your company’s particular needs and culture. Find a solution and make the case for how it will be implemented and used, the results it will produce, and your pilot program strategy. As stakeholders and influencers within an organization begin to realize the real business value of the software, acceptance and promotion will begin to spread organically, ultimately leading to the buy-in from decision makers.

iMeet® Central by PGi is a powerful collaboration solution that enables teams to collaborate around files, combine knowledge, inspire ideas and manage projects — at any time, from anywhere in the world. Try it free now.

Conferencing App Comparison: Which App Is Right for You?

Regardless of company size, industry or job function, PGi can help you improve collaboration and get better results through our award-winning conferencing solutions. Each of these different conferencing apps are appropriate for different use cases. Check out our overview to help you determine which of these apps would best fit your specific needs based on the features and benefits of each:

iMeet – All-in-One Conferencing Collaboration

iMeet® is a cloud-based service that is designed to provide high-quality web and personal video conferencing. iMeet is as simple as a phone call, but much more enriching, powerful and fun! iMeet combines screen sharing with crystal clear, multi-point video in a virtual meeting room that is perfect for achieving face-to face interaction, without the travel expense. Designed for clarity and instant access to anyone, it combines the best parts of web, video and audio conferencing with social networking.

Features:

  • Host or join a meeting with up to 125 participants
  • Personalized meeting URL makes it easy for guests to join your meeting
  • Easily connect to audio using your 3G/4G wireless network or Wi-Fi
  • Record your meeting
  • Run your presentation, or pass control to someone else, right from your mobile device
  • Cloud-based file storage
  • Share files and chat with others in the meeting
  • Allow guests to share their desktop screen
  • Automatically syncs contacts across all of your devices
  • Free for guests

GlobalMeet Mobile – Simply Better Web Conferencing

GlobalMeet is the fastest and easiest way to start or join a conference call on your mobile device. GlobalMeet for iPhone dials your conference call access numbers and passcodes for you automatically. GlobalMeet is an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art meeting solution that gives you a fast and easy way to start your audio conferences. No access numbers to remember or passcodes to dial. GlobalMeet automatically connects you to the meeting with one touch on your iPhone.  With GlobalMeet for iPhone, you can take command of every meeting, even when you’re on the go, with your favorite GlobalMeet features right at your fingertips.

Features:

  • Easily host or join a meeting
  • Invite guests via email or just dial your to your guests
  • See who’s talking with GlobalMeet Active Talker®
  • Lock, mute or record your call with a single click
  • Adjust participant volumes and mute noisy lines
  • Get one click access to participant profile and contact information
  • Upload and present files (iPad)
  • Schedule a meeting (iPad)
  • Global VoIP Softphone
  • Manage all audio and web conference settings
  • Launch an impromptu meeting

iMeet Agenday Smart Calendar – Mobile Conference Call and One-Touch Dialing Tool

The iMeet® Agenday mobile app is a calendaring and mobile business productivity application that allows you to improve connectivity for the on the go professional.  You can easily join web and audio meetings right from your calendar, with one-touch access. For a mobile workforce that utilizes Apple, Android or Amazon phones, iMeet Agenday brings business productivity to the calendar. With weather, driving conditions, LinkedIn and Facebook integration, your workforce will be better prepared for meetings. Using iMeet Agenday, you can quickly orchestrate meetings on-the-fly with the ‘Meet Now’ functionality.

Features:

  • Consolidated view of all your calendar activities: Outlook®, iCal®, Google Calendar™, Yahoo and more
  • Initiate ad hoc or scheduled team calls in one touch
  • Poll meeting participants for the time and date that fits everyone’s schedule
  • Send email and smart text message notifications in one touch
  • Get turn-by-turn driving directions
  • Update Salesforce.com while on the go
  • Social network integration
  • Customizable alerts
  • Group calling calls multiple participants simultaneously
  • Access your entire schedule via the full Agenday Apple Watch app

Whether you’re having a meeting with 10 people or 10,000 people, we can help your organization communicate and collaborate more effectively. Click here to see PGi’s full suite of conferencing and collaboration solutions.

How Can My Team Benefit from Business Collaboration?

Better collaboration equals better results. Companies are constantly adapting to provide the most efficient and productive work environments for their employees. In today’s business environment, it is no longer the individual, but the whole team that is the vector for business success. Business collaboration empowers organizations to be more competitive in the global market and drive innovation within.

Technology reigns supreme in today’s teamwork-driven workplace, connecting more employees than ever before. Corporate investments in collaboration technologies now include team workspaces, group chat, social intranets and video conferencing . The future of the collaboration landscape is projected to experience some substantial growth and influence in the coming years. According to PGi’s Benefits of Collaboration Infographic:

  • 2 in 3 companies will adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs by 2017
  • The total collaboration market is expected to grow to $33.8 billion by 2018
  • 35% of collaboration services will be cloud delivered by 2018
  • 85% of North American users across organizational levels connect with peers via video – the most of any region

Millennials in particular seek collaborative work cultures. They have been a key driver in changing the modern landscape of both workplace environment and office culture. Recent research has produced some interesting statistics on the millennial workforce as shown in the Benefits of Collaboration infographic:

  • 88% prefer collaboration over competition
  • 50% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2020
  • 25% want a chance to prove their leadership ability on the workplace

Key Benefits

Improved Time to Market
Time to market will always be crucial to business operations as well as organizational success. Interconnected team communication significantly reduces the time it takes to bring an idea to fruition. Better workplace a and fewer approval levels can reduce time to market by 20%.

Greater Innovation and Creativity
Great ideas bubble to the surface when diverse strengths and perspectives work together. Employees collaborate with colleagues outside the team, bringing information and ideas back to the group, resulting in 35% increase in both innovation and creativity.

Improvement in Communication
When individuals connect, the team becomes stronger; bringing into play the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Members will continue collaborating together outside of formal gatherings, such as meetings and debriefings, contributing to a 50% improvement in overall communication. 

Fresh Ideas
Collaboration can be a conduit for new and innovative ideas to flow through the organization. Bringing together individuals from different departments can open up new ways to reach organizational goals. The fresh ideas that result can challenge everyone to consider alternate concepts that would never have been identified and promoted when working in traditional individual roles.

Are you ready to experience the future of video conferencing? Request a free, live demo of iMeet today!

Increasing Pipeline Acceleration Using Webinars

Contrary to what you may think, webinars are not just for driving top of funnel leads. Webinars can help engage prospects throughout the buyer’s journey. When researching B2B purchases, 67% of buyers attended webinars – ranking webinars in the top 3 for content formats.

View the on demand webinar Best Practices for Using Web Events to Increase Pipeline Velocity, conducted by Sirius Decisions and PGi, to learn how you can engage your audience and increase velocity of leads through your pipeline using web events.

As one of the industry’s leading providers of conferencing and collaborations solutions, PGi has a wealth of knowledge to share with customers like you.  Contact us today to learn more.

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5 Tips for Better Webinar Presentations And Better Results

We’ve all had that nightmare: you’re supposed to present something to a large group, but it’s not going as planned.  Your technology isn’t working; you stumble over your words or forget your place in the presentation. People are talking amongst themselves, dozing off and even getting up and leaving.

First, take a deep breath. Now, to help you avoid losing sleep over presentation nightmares watch our video Losing Sleep Over Your Webinars?  5 Tips for Better Presentations and Results.

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The Problem with Docs, Drops and Camps

If you work in marketing, you know all about the pain points associated with the “Docs, Drops and Camps” approach to getting work done.  Pains like limited file storage, awkward sharing with internal teams and external vendors, and having to use a variety of tools which are not integrated.

Each of these tools has limitations in key areas. What you need is a complete business solution.  One that is purpose built for marketing teams by marketing experts to let you collaborate holistically within your teams and with key stakeholders as well as outside agencies and vendors.

Watch the video The Problem with ‘Docs, Drops and Camps and you’ll learn how iMeet Central from PGi meets all these criteria.  And after you’re done watching, request a consultation and we’ll show you how iMeet Central can help streamline communication and increase productivity.

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What Keeps IT Up at Night Part 1: The Human Element

What’s keeping CIOs and CTOs up at night these days? We presented this question to a variety of IT leaders. While there were a scattering of other answers, the vast majority all revolved around the same concern: security.

Whether it’s educating and equipping your internal users with the knowledge and tools to protect company data, protecting against external attacks and ransomware or better controlling the flow of information in and out of your networks, security is far and away the biggest culprit for CIOs and CTOs losing sleep.

In this first of two articles, let’s take a look at the human element, the challenges facing IT when it comes to educating and securing their own employees. Here are the answers we received from some of IT’s brightest (and most sleep-deprived) minds:

Joshua Crumbaugh, director of penetration testing at Tangible Security, tackles the problem of human error, stating that “Approximately three quarters of all breaches are due to human error such as clicking on a phish or opening malicious files. This is generally the biggest and most difficult issue to remediate.” He goes on to flag password weakness as a concern, adding that, “Weak and guessable passwords have become an almost guaranteed way to gain access to most corporate networks.”

The dangers of human error showed up several times as a major concern. Salo Fajer, CTO of Digital Guardian, said that, “Whether sending an email to the wrong cached email address or misplacing a USB stick, internal employees, third party contactors and customers/prospects are all humans at the end of the day. Human errors can and will happen within any organization, whether careless or spiteful in nature. The Online Trust Alliance found that almost one-third (29%) of data losses are caused by staff – whether done maliciously or accidentally, so looking within your organization for potential threats is imperative to get a sound sleep.”

Ryan Armstrong, director of IT support of Miles Technologies turned his worried eyes towards social engineering, asking, “Do we have processes to ensure that people are who they say they are? Have we educated the users enough on the dangers that are out there?”

Interestingly, two of our respondents framed their concerns through the lens of marrying the flexibility and freedom demanded by today’s workforce with IT’s charge of maintaining security.

Beth Hendriks, CTO of SciQuest said that, “The explosion of mobile devices and cloud-based technology has introduced a whole new set of IT-related questions that keep me up at night. First and foremost is how we as a company effectively develop secure and private systems and databases that are also flexible enough to accommodate employees’ needs to access assets outside of the office so they can complete their jobs.”

And Shaun Murphy, founder of PrivateGiant, also tackled the problem of productivity and accessibility of information versus security, stating that, “Having all of your company data always available and accessible is great for productivity, not so great when a piece of malware rips through your network or a hacker gets in and transfers all of your data to somewhere in China. All data, all systems should be encrypted per user/group that need access and have strict access controls and auditing in place for computer use, file access, directory listing, etc.. All modern computers and operating systems have the structure in place to do this.”

Do these experts’ internal concerns align with your own, or is something else giving you sleepless nights? Let us know in the comments below.

For more insights on the changing tech and trends shaping enterprise collaboration, download our free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition” today.

This post originally appeared on CIO.com‘s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi.

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Quiz: What’s Your Virtual Collaboration Style?

No doubt about it, collaboration (much of it virtual) is the way of getting things done in the modern workplace. In fact, it pretty much “takes a village” to finish any kind of sizable project. And, every village (aka your workplace), has its cast of collaboration characters, from the big cheese to the minutiae manager.

But which collaboration character are you?  Take our “What’s Your Virtual Collaboration Style Quiz” with personalized results and tips for what’s good about your particular style as well as what you can do to improve or change.

Ideal collaboration results from the blend of your personal style and how you use your communication technologies to work with teammates.

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Wearables in the Workplace

Wearable technology is here, but we’re still early in the lifecycle. If you’re like me and already wearing an Android smartwatch, Apple Watch, Pebble or Fitbit, you’re still comfortably in the realm of “early adopter.”

Wearables haven’t yet achieved their iPhone moment, when this new category of device reaches mass adoption and begins to invade the workplace. However, the ability to more easily receive alerts and notifications – a streamlined, personal way to filter information and prioritize actions – is already catching the attention of developers, and has certainly streamlined my workdays quite a bit.

For example, let’s say I’m sitting in an impossibly long meeting where I can’t be using my phone. An email comes in, and my smartwatch unobtrusively alerts me. At a glance, my watch allows me to quickly make judgment calls about whether an email is urgent enough to warrant a response or, in critical situations, whether I should even duck out of my meeting. And it’s all done in a seamless way that helps me stay “in the moment” more than being glued to my phone screen.

These may seem like relatively insignificant improvements over glancing at a smartphone (although we’re doing that upwards of 110 times a day), but in an interconnected workplace where speed is everything, every little improvement positively affects collaboration, productivity and efficiency.

Designing for the Wrist
Creating apps for wearables, while seemingly a novelty today, will eventually mark a key growth point with consumers and businesses. The wearable interaction paradigm means a shift in design philosophy from full-on functionality to brevity. The goal is near-instant access to information in a relatively sparse platform.

For example, PGi’s iMeet® Agenday, our award-winning smart calendar app, is pretty basic when you get right down to it: aggregated calendars and notifications. But with additional, contextually relevant information like LinkedIn profiles and voice-activated access to common meeting features (for instance, sending “I’m running late!” messages), it brings together information that helps you work more productively and efficiently and packages it up into a user experience designed for your wrist.

As the Internet of Things gives way to the Workplace of Things, the influence of wearables will begin to expand. This is just the opening chapter of new technology that will likely have a long story arc. The hardware, features and APIs will continue to evolve, allowing us to craft experiences we can’t even picture yet.

Gird your wrists. With Business Insider predicting the wearable computing market will reach 148 million units by 2019, the wearables are most definitely coming.

For more insights on wearables’ potential impact in the workplace, download our free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition” today.

This post originally appeared on CIO.com’s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi. 

3 Tips for Evaluating Audio Conferencing

In spite of the advances in communication technologies of late—face-to-face video, instant messaging, mobile applications and more—it can be easy to forget that audio conferencing is still the cornerstone of collaboration. All of the video chats and online meetings in the world are useless to your organization without consistent, high-quality audio tailored to your company’s unique needs.

Audio remains a bit of an afterthought in light of the complexity and innovative promises of your other communications software. Or, more commonly, you’re simply continuing a legacy audio purchase. However, audio conferencing has grown increasingly more complex (albeit not as visibly as some of our other collaboration technologies), and making an informed purchasing decision is more important than ever before.

Here are several key things to consider when evaluating an audio conferencing solution:

1) Ease of Use
While it would be easy to assume that dialing a phone number and tapping in a few pin numbers and passcodes is sufficiently simple, it can still be a frustrating user experience, particularly for guests. Instead of digging around in email looking for an invite with numbers appended, today’s audio tools can auto-connect users via Voice-over-IP (VoIP) or even automatically dial-out to you or your guests as soon as you’ve joined the conference via desktop or mobile. It may seem like a small time-saver, but multiplied across all of your meetings throughout your organization, those few minutes saved add up to significant costs saved—and time.

In addition, audio conferencing apps for both desktop and mobile provide visibility and feature access that is normally somewhat obfuscated on conference calls, such as a list of participants; indicators of who is speaking and access to volume, muting and subconferencing controls. Normally accessible through a somewhat archaic list of “*” commands, having them visible on your computer screen or mobile device creates a more intuitive, efficient conferencing experience.

2) Hybrid Network Support
In addition to more intuitive user-facing features for conference calls, the underlying network infrastructure that makes those calls possible has also grown increasingly complex. Hybrid audio support, which allows for seamless mixing of VoIP and traditional PSTN within the same call, is essential to facilitating freedom and choice for your employees as well as any external guests. Without hybrid support, you may overly complicate your audio conferences by forcing a particular connection method.

3) Integration with Existing Tools
In order to avoid needlessly overcomplicating your employees’ lives, it’s important to consider collaboration tools that seamlessly fit into what we like to call a user’s “inertia;” in other words, how does a tool integrate into existing tools and workflows? If your audio conferencing solution and existing web and video solutions don’t play nice together or force users to navigate multiple interfaces and tools to get a conference together, you’ve done a poor job optimizing their collaboration. Any audio conferencing solution you consider for your organization should offer seamless integration paths for your existing communications.

Or, if you’re considering either adding or switching your web or video conferencing, the purchasing conversation may change to a web solution that includes audio conferencing, giving your employees the freedom and flexibility to meet how they want, without the additional costs of traditional per-minute audio models.

There are a lot of shiny new communications tools out there, and many of them have matured to the point where they’re ready to enter the enterprise. However, don’t let audio be on the backburner, or you may ultimately be hindering collaboration.

To learn more about advances in collaboration technology, including audio, download our free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration: 2015 Edition” today.

This post originally appeared on CIO.com‘s Collaboration Nation blog, sponsored by PGi.