Digital Collaboration: The Rise of UC&C — White Paper Collaboration with Heavy Reading

The advent of IP-based networks over 15 years ago drastically changed the landscape of the corporate workplace. The rise of IP networks set the stage for the boom of unified communications (UC), where voice over IP (VoIP) telephony aligned with IM, file sharing, fixed/mobile convergence (FMC), email and white boarding to create a one-stop-shop for digital collaboration and communication.

With the widespread adoption of cloud-based services came a new UC service model that leveraged cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) infrastructure. This UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) model created new opportunities for enterprises looking to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) in a cloud-based managed service model that responded to issues of aging infrastructure.

As the UCaaS boom continues and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions dominate the market, PGi teamed up with Jim Hodges, principal analyst at Heavy Reading, to explore the evolution of UC in contributing to an end-to-end UC&C digital collaboration service architecture and driving change in cloud-based managed services models.

PGi’s Web Conferencing Install Checklist

When shopping for a web conferencing solution, it’s important to ask the right questions and gather the proper information to guarantee that you are selecting the ideal tool to help meet your company’s needs and further your success. The perfect web conferencing solution should not only have your ideal features and price point; it should also integrate easily into your company’s existing technology and protect your information.

To help ensure that you’re a prepared buyer, PGi is proud to provide you with the Web Conferencing Install Checklist. From questions of network throughput to security requirements, the Web Conferencing Install Checklist will guide you through all the questions you should consider before purchasing a web conferencing tool. With this checklist in tow, you will be able to purchase a solution with confidence and integrate it into your company seamlessly.

A special thanks to PGi Senior Solutions Architect Dave Steier and Director of Technical Engineering Corey Sienko for their invaluable contributions to this Web Conferencing Install Checklist.

The IT Buyer’s Guide to Web Conferencing

It has long been known that web conferencing solutions can be time-saving and have a revenue-lifting impact on productivity, while boosting team relationships of disparate and siloed teams. But with all of the positive impacts a web conferencing solution can have on a business, it can equally become just another pain point for IT teams. To reduce the burden on IT teams (and their budget and resources), it is crucial to find the right solution from the start. To help you and your team find the best web conferencing solution, PGi has created The IT Buyer’s Guide to Web Conferencing.

In this piece, we’ll cover:

  • Cost-saving benefits
  • The ease of deployment
  • The user experience
  • Security and compliance features
  • Essential web conferencing features

To learn more about how to determine which web conferencing solution fits your company’s needs, check out The IT Buyer’s Guide to Web Conferencing.

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!

PGi’s Collaboration Software Install Checklist

When shopping for a collaboration solution, it’s important to ask the right questions and gather the proper information to guarantee that you are selecting the ideal collaboration tool to help meet your company’s needs and further your success. The perfect collaboration solution should not only have your ideal features and price point; it should also integrate easily into your company and protect your information.

To help ensure that you’re a prepared buyer, PGi is proud to provide you with the Collaboration Software Install Checklist. From questions of network throughput to security requirements, the Collaboration Software Install Checklist will guide you through all the questions you should consider before purchasing a collaboration tool. With this checklist in tow, you will be able to purchase a collaboration solution with easy confidence and integrate it into your company seamlessly.

A special thanks to PGi  Senior Solutions Architect Dave Steier and Director of Technical Engineering Corey Sienko for their invaluable contributions to this Collaboration Software Install Checklist.

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IT Buyer’s Guide to Video Conferencing

Regardless of your company's size, if its like most businesses, your workforce has become more geographically disparate than ever. And while your team may not all share the same office, or is comprised of road warriors or remote workers, you all still have to meet on occasion. But how can your company avoid eating travel costs to get members together for something as large as an annual strategy meeting or as simple as a weekly check in?

In the not so distant past, video conferencing was something on most companies' wish lists, but not anymore. "Video conferencing has finally taken its rightful place as a core business tool", reports Wainhouse. "Companies around the world are depending on video enabled meetings to empower their people, serve their clients better and compete on a global basis."

And as previous problems surrounding video have faded, new opportunities have opened and the high barrier to entry has been removed. There's no doubt that video conferencing has become an essential key to collaboration for modern workplaces, but of course, there are dramatically different strategies and approaches on which solutions meet the needs of the workforce.

To better understand these strategies, PGi has created a Video Conferencing Buyer's Guide. Download the guide now to learn more about what to look for when purchasing a video conferencing solution for your company.

Web Conferencing Solution Enhances End User Satisfaction for intoCareers

intoCareers has proudly provided their users with first-class career development training for more than 40 years. intoCareers’ career information system (CIS) is utilized in over 35 percent of the nation’s state-sponsored schools to provide high-quality career information to teachers and counselor nationwide.

A sudden price increase in their web conferencing software led intoCareers in search of a more reliable and cost-effective web conferencing solution. intoCareers turned to PGi and, after a free trial of GlobalMeet®, the company was sold.

intoCareers relies heavily on virtual training sessions to educate new CIS operators and update current employees of revisions in curriculum. With the help of GlobalMeet, intoCareers was quickly able to streamline their virtual meetings and enhance the efficacy of their virtual training, ultimately increasing end user satisfaction.

“With GlobalMeet, our users just expect seamless training sessions, and that’s what they get!”Susan Roudebush, Consultant and Master Trainer

Ready to see how GlobalMeet can take your company’s meetings to the next level? Try it for free today.

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.

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.

What is a Video Room Connector (VRC)?

Companies can often invest a lot of money in video room systems. And while these room-based systems are powerful, they often require IT involvement and restrict the ability to connect users who aren’t psychically in the room when video conferencing. Because of this, these costly investments can be grossly underutilized.

But there is a solution to overcome these barriers and connect participants who may be working remote. A video room connector (VRC) enables H.323 or SIP video room systems to communicate with desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

With a video room connector tool, like iMeet® VRC, you’ll not only enhance your video conferencing system and improve your return on that investment, but you’ll have the ability to incorporate a whole set of collaboration tools that will improve your next meeting’s productivity as well. Check out the features of iMeet® VRC that will provide you with an easy-to-use solution:

Seamless integration: You don’t have to worry about which room-based video system provider you have, because iMeet® VRC works with the most popular video conferencing systems in the industry including Polycom, Cisco, Lifesize and more You’ll be able to seamlessly integrate more robust collaboration features into your next video meeting for everyone to use, regardless of where they’re meeting from, and get the most out of your existing video investment.

Easy to Connect: Ready to join your next video conference? With iMeet® VRC, there’s no need to reach out to IT for help establishing the connection. You’ll be able to connect to iMeet from your room-based video conferencing system in a few simple steps through SIP or H.323 protocols.

Enhanced Audio: Even the best video systems aren’t going to be successful if you don’t have the audio capabilities to hear everyone loud and clear. Because iMeet is built on PGi’s global hybrid network, you’ll receive crystal-clear HD audio with every call you make with your VRC.

Improved Collaboration: The whole point of a meeting is to collaborate, right? Well, if you’re not utilizing a VRC with your fix-based system, then potential key-players may be missing out on joining your meeting due to connectivity restrictions.

iMeet® VRC connects the people in the video conference room with remote teammates joining through laptops or mobile devices.

So no matter where you are, or what device you’re using, you’ll be able to collaborate in real time through iMeet’s video, audio and web conferencing features.

Through a robust video room connector like iMeet® VRC, your team will no longer have to choose between the latest collaboration solution and utilizing your video conference room systems.

They’ll be able to meet and collaborate without restrictions or the help of your IT team.

Ready to upgrade your room-based system for better video, audio and web conferencing experiences? Request a free demo now of iMeet® VRC, from our experts at PGi.

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3 Reasons Free Video Chat Apps Hurt Your Business

Thanks to video conferencing, you can cut travel costs, enjoy the freedom of flexible work, improve productivity, accelerate innovation and build better relationships, and now you can do it all for free. Startups, small businesses and enterprises alike can choose free video chat apps to support teamwork and empower sales teams without paying anything.

However, every company should carefully weigh the pros and cons of free video conferencing, because the hidden costs to your business are much greater than you think. For example, here are just three reasons free video chat apps hurt your business.

1. Poor Quality Damages Your Credibility
Free video chat services are typically designed with consumers in mind, not business users, which have very different collaboration needs.  As a result, you can come across lacking professionalism and even innovation by using them.

Audio and video on free apps don’t match the quality of professional video conferencing, and they lack live, in-meeting, 24/7 customer support. So instead of collaborating, you waste time finding DIY solutions to glitches and resources if you use your own IT team to patch up every virtual meeting. In the meantime, guests, often already multitasking, won’t take you seriously or pay attention.

In fact, many free apps were originally designed more as virtual chat forums than true virtual meeting rooms where users feel more like they’re physically in a room together. Professional video conferencing provides seamless access and intuitive interfaces to create a more authentic collaboration environment than free apps.

2. A Lack of Privacy and Security Erodes Trust
A core component of good relationship building is developing trust, and the lack of privacy and security on free video chat services erodes that trust from the beginning. Often, free video chat apps require all participants to register an account or even download an application, whereas professional, cloud-based options allow guests to click a link and/or dial in without registering at all.

This not only makes video conferencing more difficult to join but also riskier. Guests may not want to give away private information at registration just to join your virtual meetings. Plus, free video conferencing typically does not offer full content encryption (softphone, webcam, documents, downloads, chats, etc.), making it inefficient for collaborating on sensitive information.

3.Free Video Rooms Butcher Your Branding
Video conferencing rooms are now extensions of your company and brand, like virtual office entrances and lobbies. This is now the first place many customers, new employees and partners see you and interact with you.

However, instead of fully customizable backgrounds and personalized URLs, you’re often stuck with the default appearance of free video chat apps, and some even post distracting ads (that could possibly display your competition). You work hard to create your company’s unique brand, and the technology you use to meet should represent what your company stands for.

Even if you can get past the limits on how many people can participant on HD video, the uncontrollable bandwidth consumption, the lack of Outlook integration or the limited features of free video chat services, no-frills video conferencing just doesn’t meet the demands of the anywhere, anytime, any-device consumer or workforce. True video conferencing enables greater mobility while providing enhanced security and premium quality, and a successful business knows better than to settle for anything less than a top-notch video conferencing experience.

Are you looking to improve your video conferencing experience? Take a free trial of iMeet® VCR today!

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Can VoIP Save Your Business Money?

Looking for new ways to save your business money, enhance communication and collaboration and support your distributed workforce? Give your collaborators more ways to connect with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP Eliminates Costly Phone Lines
Softphones and audio conferencing applications that facilitate VoIP are now so common and familiar at work that businesses can completely eliminate the costs of maintaining traditional phone lines. All-in-one audio, video and web conferencing is now so seamless and user-friendly that workers can not only connect to meetings but also one-on-one calls just as fast as they can dial a phone.

Because voice information is transmitted through the Internet, the costs of making calls via VoIP are rolled into your regular Internet bill, and, SaaS-based conferencing solutions replace unpredictable spikes in minutes with steady, monthly rates. If you rely on VoIP as a complete alternative to desk phones, you don’t even need to invest in phone hardware or additional IT resources to maintain your audio conferencing solution.

For some businesses, desk phones could very well be a thing of the past. Softphones and mobile apps are increasingly important to the mobile workforce, as 79 percent now telework, and 74 percent of remote workers use these tools over traditional phones on a daily basis, according to VoIP comparison research firm Software Advice. Besides better mobility, VoIP audio conferencing also supports the unified communications and collaboration experience increasingly demanded by users.

VoIP Saves Money on International Calls
On the other hand, traditional phone lines still offer audio quality and reliability that VoIP can’t, yet, but even as a supplement to desk phones and mobile devices, VoIP audio options will save your business money. If your business collaborates with freelancers, telecommuters, global branches or clients around the world, VoIP saves you the costs of making unlimited international phone calls. Likewise, when you, your mobile workers or your sales team are on the go, VoIP acts as your professional, cost-effective, mobile desk phone.

To get the best of both worlds, make sure your all-in-one conferencing solution offers both VoIP and traditional phone lines as options to connect. By providing workers with a global, hybrid, IP audio network, you let employees, customers and external collaborators choose the most convenient way to collaborate for them.

Learn more about VoIP and the importance of hybrid audio.

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:

How to Easily Show Videos During a Web Conference

Successful presentations and virtual meetings require one key ingredient: audience engagement. You want the people watching to be inspired, to learn something, to get excited, to get curious, to ask questions and to walk away ready to take action.

In order to wow them, though, you must deliver a rich, interactive, visually appealing presentation, not a stale meeting stuck in boring slides and long outlines. You need out-of-the-box presentation slides, brilliant takeaways and streaming videos to capture the audience’s attention.

However, what’s even worse than slides bursting with bullet points is a meeting host that fumbles with the web conferencing tool and takes up precious time switching from one medium to another. To ensure your multimedia presentation is seamless, here’s the fastest way to show videos during a web conference.

Store Videos in Your File Library
Commonly, you’ll see presentation slides with URL links that the host clicks to open up videos on a separate web browser, but the fastest way to stream videos is by uploading them directly to the file library in your web conferencing tool. This way, you avoid toggling between programs and tabs or locating online videos that may have been removed or relocated.

For example, if you’re using a web conferencing tool like GlobalMeet® by PGi, simply:

  1. Click “File Library” on the meeting toolbar.
  2. Click the plus sign to add a file or folder to your library.
  3. Select your videos, and upload them to the cloud.
  4. During your web conference, just click on the file in your library to instantly stream it in full-screen mode.

web videos
You can also seamlessly add web video links from YouTube and Vimeo directly to your file library to preview and share during a web conference. From the File Library, click “Add a web video,” search for videos by keyword (or paste a video link) and click the plus sign to add the video link to your library. When you’re ready, click the video title to play it right from your web conference without ever leaving the application.

No one gets a bad seat in the house because GlobalMeet offers the same full-featured experience on a mobile device as a desktop, as well as clear, reliable, hybrid audio. That means even your participants watching from rest stops and airport lounges will get a kick out of your latest cat video intermission.

If your current web conferencing tool doesn’t offer that fast, seamless functionality, isn’t it time you looked for a new one? Give your audience a better meeting by trying GlobalMeet free today.

Audio Conferencing Integration Case Study: Northwestern University

To facilitate their rapidly evolving online learning programs, Northwestern University uses a combination of independent learning and interactive audio and web conferencing sessions, which help them reach more potential students, increase engagement, improve student experiences and maintain high retention and graduation rates.

However, students and faculty commonly experienced dropped connections on the VoIP-only web conferencing solution. Losing class time, momentum and opportunities to connect, NU needed an integrated audio solution to support synchronous online learning, better manage disruptions and guarantee seamless sessions.

Using PGi hybrid audio conferencing integration, NU enriched online student experiences, realized more value from their existing investments, increased the versatility of their technology for wider use cases and accelerated pilot online learning programs with better adoption, according to Instructional Technologist Alyssa Dyar.

“The PGi integrated audio solution is pretty flawless. Students just type in their phone number, it pops up and there’s not a lot for them to do. If someone can’t get the code right, dialing out is really quick.”

Why do Small Businesses Need Audio Conferencing?

Regardless of the size of your business, you’ll always need the right tools to support your collaboration efforts. The spoken word is the foundation of successful collaboration between the various parts of your business.

Despite all the advances in business technology – features like video conferencing, screen sharing, whiteboarding and more – audio is still the ultimate tool that makes meetings and collaboration possible. Without audio, you simply can’t meet.

Small businesses face unique challenges when it comes to conferencing and collaboration. From tight budgets for things like travel to limited IT infrastructure issues, finding an audio conferencing solution that fits within the realm of what’s plausible (and sensible) for your small business’s unique needs can seem tricky. However, with the proper strategy, you can find an audio conferencing tool that works for your business.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways your small business can benefit from the right audio conferencing solution:

Grow Global Presence: Thanks to advances in technology, the business world has gotten a lot smaller. The ability to reach new business globally is more attainable than ever before. Networks that were once only local and regional are now Internet-based and connected across the globe.

Thanks to modern audio conferencing solutions, you can forget about globalization difficulties by utilizing local dial-in numbers, in-language support and in-region network infrastructure. By harnessing the technology and power of modern audio conferencing software, your company can truly rethink the scale and reach for new business opportunities.

Lower Costs: As a small business, your budget is always top-of-mind, but so is looking for new business opportunities. And when you add up costs for travel or international calls in pursuit of new business, you may be running up a large bill.

By using an audio conferencing solution that integrates with an online meeting tool, like PGi’s iMeet®, you’ll be able to recreate those traditional face-to-face meeting to nurture existing global relationships or forge new ones with video and audio conferencing.

Facilitates Collaboration: Having trouble getting everyone you need on the line when you’re trying to work on new business plans or to discuss monthly sales goals? Using an audio conferencing solution that can host multiple guests can help you reach out to various team members all at once in a simple, straightforward way, allowing everyone to join regardless of location or device.

If you and your business are ready to see how an audio solution can help you expand your business globally while cutting costs, try PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio.

Learn more about audio conferencing with these articles:

What is Audio Conferencing?

Tips for Choosing an Audio Conferencing Provider

How to Avoid Audio Conferencing Mishaps

How Do I Enhance My Video Conferencing Room?

Business meetings once centered on conference rooms, from in-person introductions to video conferencing with branch offices around the world. Because business collaboration has evolved beyond the limits of space, video conferencing technology that is dedicated to conference rooms no longer fully supports the demands of the modern workforce. Collaboration now happens right from workers’ desks, on tablets and smartphones and on the go.

But those expensive business investments don’t have to go to waste. With a video room connector, businesses can seamlessly integrate more mobile, user-friendly and robust video conferencing solutions into their existing video room investments. Easy setup and seamless integration with popular video room systems and endpoints minimizes any additional investments of time and resources getting started.

Why Do I Need a Video Room Connector?
If your video conferencing room rarely gets used or is a constant source of bad meetings, it’s time to connect your technology to a better solution for better meetings. Here’s how a video room connector can solve your video conferencing room woes:

  • More Mobility: A video room that inhibits mobile workers from joining your meetings isn’t going to cut it anymore. Teleworkers are now the norm, and your remote and on-the-road employees need video conferencing to stay connected and engaged with the rest of the company. Integrating a video conferencing solution accessible from any device ensures your meetings never miss an important source of knowledge and creativity outside the office.
  • A Better User Experience: The latest video conferencing solutions make it easier than ever to join online meetings and navigate the technology, maximizing meeting time. If you want to reduce late starts and eliminate awkward pauses during meetings, connect your video room to a better way to meet.
  • Robust Functionality: Video conferencing solutions no longer limit your options to collaborate via video only. All-in-one audio, web and video conferencing features allow you to collaborate on a conference call, share content on a web conference or schedule a virtual meeting outside the conference room.
  • Crystal-Clear Audio: Not every video conferencing provider specializes in both technology and telephony, but with a video room connector, you can upgrade the quality and reliability of your audio using a conferencing provider that’s known for their industry-leading, global, hybrid audio network.

Drive higher adoption of your technology by giving employees universal access to a single video conferencing solution for all of your company’s collaborative needs. Experience real-time collaboration with iMeet® VRC (Video Room Connector).

Request a live demo today to see how connecting your video room to iMeet will better connect your company.