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!

Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide

When shopping for software solutions for your sales team, it can be tempting to take the path of least resistance and go for the first sales tool you can find. However, it's important to identify your sales team's unique needs first so you can ask the right questions during your buying process to guarantee that you find a sales tool that meets your needs.

There is an overwhelming selection of sales tools out there and PGi is here to help you sift through them to find the one perfectly suited to your unique goals. There are a number of sales tools that could revolutionize how your sales team operates that you might not even know exist. PGi’s Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide is designed to assist you through your sales journey and help you find a sales tool that will integrate seamlessly into your workplace practices.

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.

Checklist: 8 Considerations for Selecting an Audio Conferencing Solution

It may be hard to believe, but not all audio conferencing solutions are created equal. In our constant search for the best tools to improve our productivity and collaboration, sometimes we go after the newest product on the market rather than refine an already tried-and-true solution. While we all want to sip a cappuccino street side in France or dig our toes in the sand while taking a conference call via virtual reality headsets, audio conferencing solutions remain an absolute cornerstone of many businesses’ day-to-day.

The good news is that current audio conferencing solutions aren’t those of yesteryear–or at least they don’t have to be. With PGi’s new checklist, All Conference Calls Are Not Created Equal: 8 Considerations for Selecting an Audio Conferencing Solution,  you’ll be able to better understand the key factors that can take your audio conferencing to the next level.

After you’ve downloaded the checklist and learned a little more about what to look for in an audio conferencing solution, check out PGi’s GlobalMeet Audio by requesting a demo with one of our experts.

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.

Buyer’s Guide for Marketing Collaboration Workspaces

Collaboration solutions have become essential to every successful marketer’s game plan. They support seamless communication between teams and facilitate improved project management. And, in an age of disbursed teams, they can inspire innovation by bringing collaborators together in a virtual environment that’s the next best thing to being in the same room.

To help you identify the right solution for your team, download our Marketing Buyer’s Guide for Online Team Workspaces for answers to key questions and explanations of essential features.

Marketing Buyer’s Guide to Webinar Platforms

Webinars are now the third most popular content type for researching purchasing decisions. Savvy marketing teams are turning to webinars as a way to promote their brand’s thought leadership and drive more qualified leads into their company’s sales pipelines.

However, in order to begin establishing a successful webinar program, you have to evaluate the wide variety of webinar platforms available on the market today.

Download our Marketer’s Guide to Webinar Platforms today and you’ll learn key questions you need to ask yourself and your team in order to clearly define your webinar strategy.

 

Guide: Take the Worry out of Selling Webinars to Your Boss

You’re ready to generate new leads and engage existing leads through the buyer’s journey by hosting your own webinars, but before you get started, you have one thing left to do: get buy-in from your boss. Unfortunately, not everyone will understand the value of purchasing a webinar platform for marketing like you do.

Read our Guide “Take the Worry Out of Selling Webinars to Your Boss” and you’ll learn how to get the idea off the ground by handling the most common objections.  And after you’re done reading the guide, request an iMeetLive demo and we’ll show you exactly what you need to produce killer webinars for your customers and prospects.

Marketer’s Guide for Web Conferencing Solutions

Successful marketers have to collaborate effectively with a wide range of partners. They can be within your own enterprise or outside third-party teams and potential customers across the country.

As a result, many teams have gone far beyond traditional conference calls and group emails and have come to rely on virtual meeting solutions to make communication easier and more efficient. But there are many different solutions offering a wide variety of different capabilities, so how do you know what to look for?

Download our Marketer’s Guide to Web Conferencing Solutions and learn the key features to look for when selecting a new virtual meeting solution.

 

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.

6 Things To Consider Before Buying Web Conferencing

Companies are increasingly turning to collaboration solutions, like web conferencing, to expand collective knowledge, speed up business processes and give their business a competitive edge through better collaboration. And while you may be eager to get an enterprise-wide solution up and running quickly, you should stop to consider the consequences of buying web conferencing software that doesn’t meet your company’s expectations or business needs.

Meetings run late because of complicated processes to join, clients get frustrated with poor audio and video quality, and employees have difficulty conducting meetings because of a complex interface. In the end, a bad buy can cost you time and money if you have to restart with another software solution.

 We’ve outlined a number of considerations – from changing user workstyles and preferences to IT, infrastructure and support requirements – that you should mull over before selecting a provider.

Today’s global workforce requires collaboration flexibility. Gone are the days when all employees are located in a single brick-and-mortar office. Employees, partners and customers alike are dispersed around the world and they require a tool that allows them to collaborate anywhere, any time and on any device. Your web conferencing solution must have mobile support for users choosing to telecommute, bundles that fit the needs of every line of business and browser-based web conferencing to control what users download.

Additionally, in order to really expand your company’s global reach, you’ll need web conferencing that makes it easy to communicate around the world. Ask providers about localized software, native language support and local dial-in numbers and audio bridges. Look for these key features that help make international web conferencing simple and secure from any location.

Complex infrastructures demand simplicity. When identifying your enterprise web conferencing needs, you need to identify the features and qualities that will yield the most seamless solution for your complex enterprise infrastructure. You need cloud solutions that lighten bandwidth usage and seamless integrations with other enterprise communications applications.

IT now operates bimodal. Your enterprise IT team must balance two initiatives now – progressing the enterprise towards innovation and maintaining operational excellence. Your web conferencing solution must constantly evolve to keep up with the changing pace of collaboration, as well as offer enterprise-class security, redundancy and dependable audio.

Not all web conferencing solutions are created equal. Before you sign up for a free conferencing service, you should first ask yourself (and that provider) what the tradeoff will be. When audio is outsourced to third-party vendors to cut costs, quality and consistency are often sacrificed, and many free web conferencing providers use this process. It’s critical that you ask specifically about outsourcing services so you can make a better assessment of what the audio quality will be like. After all, the last thing you need during your big presentation or meeting is a dropped call.

Support can be just as important as the service. No matter how smart and intuitive a web conferencing tool may be, you’re bound to run into an error or need some troubleshooting advice. In addition to asking if customer support is available, ask how many ways you can contact an expert for support. When you’re running an online meeting, you may want phone support. If you’re on your tablet, you may want real-time chat. You may even want to post a question from your smartphone through email or in an online customer forum. In this era of always-on connectivity, you want your customer support experience to be as flexible and adaptive as your interconnected life.

Remember, when you’re pinpointing the best solution, you’re assessing the provider as well as the product. The web conferencing provider you choose should have the proven experience and expertise you need to integrate web conferencing into complicated infrastructures, deploy solutions on a global scale and offer custom solutions to your unique challenges.

For more tips on purchasing web conferencing tools, download The Buyer’s Guide to Web Conferencing.

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

How to Build a Sales Technology Stack for Better Productivity

Sales technology has long been limited to a slim selection of tools: an email account, a phone and customer relationship management (CRM) software (which often turned into more burden than relief for sales). Now, we’re entering the era of sales technology.

Much like marketing, a new sales technology landscape exists that promises to shorten the increasingly long and complex sales cycle, engage the self-researched buyer and help reps meet quotas constantly on the rise.

How Sales Technology Evolved
As explained in “The Social Sales Revolution” eBook from PGi, there are several causes of this new wave of sales technology:

  • The evolution of the buyer’s journey has given rise to inside sales, which creates new challenges for sales reps. Sales must rise above the noise and make the impersonal personal again in order to connect with customers and their communities online.
  • Social selling, customer-centricity and advances in technology have revived interest in CRM software. Now, by closely integrating CRM software with other applications, sales can use the tool in more meaningful ways to better personalize the customer experience.
  • Research has proven that team-oriented sales departments have advantages over those with the old “lone wolf” mentality. With this in mind, sales teams are looking for ways to increase teamwork, collaboration and transparency.
  • Sales technology continues to get better at automating, measuring and speeding up virtually every sales activity, and, thanks to unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) technology trends, sales can continue adding new applications to their arsenal without getting slowed down by disparate tools and information siloes.

How to Get Started Building a Stack
The sales technology landscape is now comprised of many categories: productivity, acceleration, intelligence, automation, engagement and more. When you build your own sales technology stack, you must consider not only what technology you need at every point of the sales cycle but also what types of technology most impact your sales team’s unique goals.

For instance, are you B2B or B2C? Do you still rely heavily on field sales, or is your team trying to master inside sales from headquarters? Do you need to accommodate remote teammates? With your sales pipeline in mind and your unique needs identified, you can select and combine tools that best help you close more deals.

Here’s a look at just some of the sales technology that can make you faster and more efficient along the sales pipeline:

  • Online Collaboration Software: Inside sales teams typically share a lot of content online to engage and nurture prospects. Technology like online collaboration software streamlines the document management process and ensures teams maintain consistent messaging. Sales teams can also use online team workspaces to share information—winning presentations, lessons from losses, etc.—to get a competitive advantage.

 

  • Sales Productivity Software: Sales acceleration tools like video presentation software enable sales to continue nurturing leads within a more personalized and engaging format, as well as more efficiently qualify leads with data from the results. Video presentations can be used in several creative ways by inside sales teams, for everything from producing more personalized presentations to sending video alongside thank you.
  • Online Meeting Software: After a lead has been qualified, it’s time to progress the lead to close through nurturing and demos. Online meetings help sales reps meet with more qualified leads from anywhere and help them do it in a highly personal environment.
  • Smart Calendar Apps: Innovative smart calendars can be used to save sales time entering data into Salesforce, joining online meetings and conference calls and notifying dispersed teams of product and company updates.

Try PGi’s iMeet Narrate to accelerate your sales funnel, create engaging content & have better lead tracking. Request a demo today!

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5 Signs It’s Time for a New Online Meeting Solution

Why did you choose your online meeting solution? Think about it.

If the response that comes to mind is because it’s what you’ve always used, isn’t it time you reconsidered the true value it brings your business?

If you were a first-time buyer, you may have purchased what was most affordable, familiar or free. But once your businesses surpassed its original needs, that “starter software” became hand-me-down technology that solved less and less of the new challenges you now face.

Here are five signs it’s time for a new online meeting solution that’s better suited to your collaboration needs:

  1. Your technology is behind the times. Today’s online meeting solutions offer the best of audio, web and video conferencing features, all rolled into one convenient service. Online meetings take place in HD video, you can store and access files from anywhere and downloads are a thing of the past. If your current solution hasn’t caught up with the times, that’s a sure sign you need to look for a new one.
  2. Your online meeting solution hasn’t grown with you. The first technology you choose isn’t always still the best option once you’ve grown your customer base, expanded your operations or acquired new businesses. Your meetings may have grown from five to 125 people in a conference room from around the world, and your business needs and challenges probably changed, as well. Now it may be time to discover technology that grows your company, not just cuts costs.
  3. Every department uses a different online meeting solution. The more you can adopt your technology to a variety of functions, the more you’ll increase ROI and enhance cross-functional collaboration. Modern solutions now offer customizable features to match different workflows and integrate with existing applications.
  4. Everyone still hates online meetings. Meetings are supposed to help you collaborate quickly and effortlessly from wherever you are, but if your employees or clients still complain, it’s time to reevaluate your technology. Overly complicated features, an inconsistent mobile experience, high bandwidth requirements and unreliable audio ultimately result in poor user adoption and wasted meeting time.
  5. You consider your provider a vendor, not a partner. The best online meeting solutions offer 24/7 customer service and in-call support and work with you to accommodate your unique collaboration needs. If your technology provider is more of an operations facilitator than a partner in innovation, look at other options that will provide better business insights and collaboration expertise.

Did you identify any of these signs at your business? Then use these resources to get started searching for a new online meeting solution:

Red Flags to Look for When Buying Audio Conferencing

Audio conferencing is a must have for the modern business. It can be used as a stand-alone collaboration tool or can be used to enhance web and video conferencing solutions. But when buying audio conferencing solutions, it’s important to understand what you’re purchasing.

Like investing in any tool to enhance your business operations, understanding the pros and cons of an audio conferencing solution is important. To get the right solution for your business, check out these five red flags to look for when buying audio conferencing.

  • No hybrid network support: The ability to seamlessly mix callers on VoIP and PTSN in a single conference call will allow participants to join from whatever device or method they choose. Hybrid network support will help make your next conference call easier for all parties.
  • Lack of global coverage: Is your business is working with customers or stakeholders overseas? Make sure your audio conferencing solution has more than just local coverage. Finding a solution that features international calling and a globally distributed network infrastructure will save your business cash and provide a better call experience for global participants.
  • Limited audio controls: An audio conferencing solution that has audio controls only accessible through the phone and “*” commands is a huge red flag. Thanks to advances in technology, most audio conferencing solutions will allow you to control your audio through apps and online on your desktop. You won’t be forced to stay at your desk to take your next conference call.
  • Limited customer service support: This is a feature many business may not really consider when looking for the perfect audio conferencing solution. Don’t let a solution’s limited customer service limit your business operations. Find an audio conferencing solution that has easily accessible customer service, available 24/7 just in case something goes awry during an important call.
  • Lack of integration with web and video: This is probably biggest red flag of them all. If you’re looking for a complete audio conferencing solution that will keep you connected with employees and able to seek out new opportunities both locally and internationally, then you need to have a solution that will integrate with web and video conferencing. Combining these three features will enhance your company’s ability to collaborate and conduct business.

Unfortunately, not all audio conferencing providers will be straightforward with the faults in their services or additional fees. By looking for these five red flags, you’ll be able to better understand what your company is investing in.

For a complete audio conferencing solution, try PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio. To learn more about audio conferencing, check out some of these related articles:

3 Features to Look for in a Virtual Meeting Solution

Virtual meetings are a great way to keep your internal and external stakeholders connected with one another. From sales training and product reviews to meeting with customers or prospects, virtual meeting solutions can serve as an all-in-one tool to create better business for your company.

By combining video, audio and screen sharing, virtual meetings make it easier than ever to share information, regardless of your location. If your business is ready to try a virtual meeting solution, but doesn’t know where to start, check out these three critical features to look for before you buy:

1. Intuitive Interface: There’s nothing worse than rolling out a new product to your employees, and receiving feedback that it’s just too hard to use. Make sure you look for an intuitive design when you’re choosing a virtual meeting solution for your business.

Begin with finding a solution that has a simple interface; a tool that’s designed with the user in mind. For example, PGi’s iMeet makes it easier for participants to connect their audio by having the meeting call them. There’s no dial-in numbers or passcodes to remember, just 1-click and the program calls an attendee’s phone or computer.

Features like this will make sure that your new virtual meeting tool is widely accepted by employees.

2. Video and Audio Conferencing Capabilities: When searching for a virtual meeting solution, integrated audio and video capabilities are key components. All virtual meeting tools may have one or the other, but finding a solution that has both streamlines your purchase.

Having audio is a no brainer when it comes to meetings, but finding a virtual meeting provider that also offers consistent, quality audio with features like VoIP calling can keep your meetings productive and save you money by cutting your reliance on PSTN (public switched telephone network).

Video capabilities, while not always necessary, are great for making sure all meeting participants are able to see and react to non-verbal cues. With video, you’ll be able to recreate a traditional face-to-face meeting and keep your participants more engaged.

3. Cloud-based: What’s the point in having a virtual meeting solution if you can’t use it anywhere at any time? Cloud-based applications live on the Internet rather than just locally on a device, such as your desktop. The advantage of cloud-based applications is that you can use them at any time, on any device as long as you have an Internet connection. All of the information and settings you stored on one device will automatically populate the next time you use the program.

From consistent quality audio and video conferencing to sharing documents and presentations, having a cloud-based tool will make sure you are getting the full experience each time, regardless of what device you’re using and where you’re working from.

Finding the right virtual meeting solution for your business will take some time and consideration, but remember these three features will ensure your users will get the most out virtual meeting experiences each and every time.

If you’re ready for a cloud-based virtual meeting solution that’s easy to use, check out PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days.

Choosing a Mobile Meeting App for Your Remote Workforce

Whether it’s a business call, web conference or online presentation, joining meetings can present a challenge for those working outside of the office. If your team is comprised of remote workers, then you understand the key to remaining productive and effective is staying connected. One of the best ways to make sure your remote work force is in tune with the business, regardless of their location, is a great mobile meeting app.

A mobile meeting app consolidates meeting information and functionality into one user-friendly interface that can be accessed by tablets and mobile devices. These apps aim at facilitating business collaboration through video and audio conferencing abilities, file sharing and real-time chat features—all in one place.

Harnessing the benefits of a mobile meeting app will enhance your team’s ability to collaborate more efficiently, but what should you look for when choosing a mobile meeting app for your team? Check out some of these features that merit evaluation:

User Experience: Before comparing all other features on the mobile meeting app, the first and most important thing to consider is the user experience. It should be consistent, have a simple interface, intuitive navigation and enable easy meeting entry. A simple, easy-to-use design will be a make-or-break feature for your employees; investing in a mobile meeting app will only be lucrative if your employees are actually willing to use it.

Consistency: As a remote workforce, having a mobile meeting app that delivers a consistent experience across desktops, smartphones and tablets is crucial to achieving success outside the office. Look for a cloud-based service that allows your team to move seamlessly between mobile devices and desktops. With a consistent design, teams will be able to find the features they need while continuously transitioning between working in-office and on-the-go.

File Sharing: Thanks to advances in business collaboration technology, mobile meeting apps now have the ability to share information across various platforms. Consider a mobile meeting app that fosters collaboration through file sharing features—whether it be presentations, videos, images or even spreadsheets.

Hosting Capabilities: A final important feature to review while looking for a mobile meeting app is hosting capabilities. As a member of a remote team, you need the ability to host meetings on the go, and finding a mobile meeting app that allows you to do so right from the palm of your hand can really save time. Also, look for an app that includes features that allow you to easily invite guests, pass control of the meeting across various devices and has mobile screen sharing.

Ready to test drive a mobile meeting app with all of these features? Try iMeet by PGi free for 30 days and learn more about telecommuting in PGi’s free eBook, The Yin and Yang of Telecommuting.