With the incredible pace of innovation in communications technologies—including face-to-face video, instant messaging, mobile applications and more—it can be easy to forget that audio conferencing is the cornerstone of collaboration. Without consistent, high-quality audio tailored to your organization’s unique needs, collaboration simply isn’t possible.
It’s easy to put your audio solution on the backburner in light of the complexity of your other communications software, or to simply continue a long-standing audio purchase. However, audio conferencing has grown increasingly more complex (albeit not as visibly as other technologies), and there are several key things to consider when choosing a solution:
1) How easy is it to use?
You may think that dialing a phone number and entering a passcode is fairly simple already, but audio conferencing solutions have evolved to make meeting entry even easier. Modern tools can auto-connect users via VoIP or dial-out as soon as you’ve joined the conference via desktop or mobile application. 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 cost and time.
In addition, these desktop and mobile applications also provide visibility and feature access that is normally lacking from conference calls, such as a list of participants, indicators of who is speaking and access to volume, muting and subconferencing controls. While these features are normally accessible through a list of “*” commands (and still are, should you have them memorized), having them visible on your computer screen or mobile device creates a more intuitive, efficient conferencing experience.
2) Is it mobile?
While conference calls are mobile by default (since you can always dial-in from your smartphone), mobile conferencing applications offer unique features that have become practically essential in today’s BYOD-driven workplace. These apps offer simple connections and a visible read-out of participants and who is speaking when, in addition to the aforementioned easy access to common features like volume, muting and sub-conferencing or breakout sessions.
In addition, your provider’s invitations should be straight-forward and mobile-optimized, allowing for one-touch dial in and passcode entry.
3) Does it support multiple connection methods simultaneously?
As endpoints, codecs, audio bridges and other technologies that make audio conferencing possible have evolved, the underlying infrastructure of your conference call has also grown increasingly complex. Hybrid audio support, which allows for seamless mixing of VoIP and PSTN within the same conference call, is essential to facilitating freedom and choice for your employees as well as any third-party participants. Without hybrid support, you may overly complicate your audio conferences by forcing a particular connection method.
4) Does it integrate with your existing tools, or offer support for web and video integrations?
Finally, an audio conferencing solution you consider for your organization has to offer seamless integration paths for your existing communications deployments, including unified communications tools such as Microsoft® Lync®.
Or, if you’re also considering web or video conferencing, the purchasing conversation may change to a web solution that includes audio conferencing integration, giving your employees the freedom and flexibility to meet how they want, with no additional costs offer traditional pay-per-minute audio models.
Interested in learning more about purchasing an audio conferencing solution for your organization? Contact a PGi expert today.