Video Conferencing Defined, Part 1
January 28, 2009 @ 07:46 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke

2009-01-28-video Video Conferencing Types & Terminology

When you first begin to look into video conferencing you may hear a lot acronyms and words associated with this technology that are unfamiliar. As you research, don’t be scared. It is important to remember that it is not that much different from audio conferencing or using your phone to make a call to your friends and family.

In this first part of the video conferencing glossary, I will help clarify the terms associated with different types of video conferencing and cover some of the basics.


Audio conferencing
Communication between three or more sites that are linked by avoice-only telecommunications medium.

Codec (Coder-Decoder)
Video conferencing hardware that codes the outgoing video and audio signals and decodes the incoming signals. Prior to transmission, the codec converts analog signals to digital signals and compresses the digital signals. Incoming audio and video must be decompressed and converted from digital back to analog.

Desktop video conferencing
Video conferencing on a personal computer. Most appropriate for small groups or individuals. Many desktop video conferencing systems support document sharing.

Dialing in
Each site initiates the video call by dialing into the bridge.

Dialing out
InterCall Video Conferencing initiates the video and calls out to a site.

H.320/ISDN
Widely-used video compression standard that allows a wide variety of video conferencing systems to communicate.

H.323/IP
Nnew standard providing a foundation for audio, video and data communications across IP-based networks, including the Internet. By complying with H.323, multimedia products and applications from various vendors can interoperate, allowing users to communicate without concern for compatibility.

H.264
Standard for compressing video based on MPEG-4 that is expected to be widely used, especially for high-definition video.

Hybrid
Meeting that consists of a mix of conference users (i.e., video, audio or document).

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Essentially a digital network that provides seamless communication of voice, video and text between individual desktop video conferencing systems and group video conferencing systems. ISDN is expected to replace current telephone lines.

Multipoint
Video conference with more than two sites. The sites must connect via a video bridge or MCU (multipoint control unit).

Point-to-point
Video conference between two sites.

Room-based video conferencing
Video conferencing using a sophisticated system. This is appropriate for large groups.

Video bridge
Computerized switching system that allows multipoint video conferencing.

Video conferencing
Way of communicating across long distances using video and audio (through a TV or monitor) that may also include graphics and data exchange.

Remember, with video conferencing the audio and visual signals are transmitted across the same line, either ISDN or IP. And just like needing a phone to make an audio call, you need a codec to make a video call. Next week, we’ll talk about some of the video conferencing features that are most popular. In the mean time, if there are any questions we can answer or terms we can help to define, talk to us in the comments below!

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

Sara_2 Sara O'Rourke is the Associate Product Manager for Strategic Video Solutions and will be a contributor to "Video News". She has been with Intercall for over 4 years and has specialized in the video product for the majority of those years, starting in sales. She is not only an accomplished professional of the video industry, but a fine singer as well.

I’d like you to meet InterCall Unified Meeting
January 22, 2009 @ 01:40 PM | By Cambria Vaccaro

Ium_screenShot I am very proud and excited to tell you all about the launch of our new flagship web conferencing product, InterCall Unified Meeting.

InterCall Unified Meeting allows you to integrate audio, web, video, calendar systems and instant messaging applications. The ‘click -to -start' feature makes access straightforward and gets you into your meetings much quicker. And forget about picking up the phone—you can now start your meeting on the web and have your phone number dialed and joined into the conference call.

The service is also flexible enough to be used by any industry. Sales professionals can host product demonstrations without requiring their customers and prospects to download software. Marketing professionals will find it a cost-effective way to announce new products. Project managers can bring people around the world together to give status updates and make quick decisions.

The release of InterCall Unified Meeting is a result of the recent acquisition of Genesys Conferencing and the center of our Unified Communications strategy.  If you’re already using InterCall Unified Meeting, let us know how it’s going in the comments below.  If you’d like to give it a try, click here. 


 
Cam_2Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger.  Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services.  She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.

3 Ways to Promote Your Webinar on a Budget
January 13, 2009 @ 11:20 AM | By Cambria Vaccaro

2009-01-13-Webinar-Promo It’s been said every possible way over the past few months—money is tight.  This goes for households as well as small and even large businesses.  What are you going to do to save your company money in 2009? Are you conducting lead generating webinars?  (We’d really like it if you did!) But, more importantly, will your webinars be well attended?  How will you get the word out about webinars and how can you be sure people will attend? Here are a few ideas on how you can promote your webinar on a budget.

1.  Promote to your customers. Your customers already think you’re great.  They like you and they trust you. So go ahead and tell them about your webinars.  You may find new contacts within your existing base of business.  Chances are, if you’re providing good information, your customers will want to tell their customers about you, and so on.  So, tell them!  This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Newsletters – if you already do monthly or quarterly newsletters to update customers on product changes or promotions, include a small tout (with a link to register) about your webinars.
  • Invoices – you have to send out invoices, either electronically or via snail mail.  So, include information about your next webinar within the invoice.  Customers may enjoy seeing the words “free webinar” instead of just “balance due”.
  • Your web site – don’t forget to include information on your web site.  You can also create an archive section with replays of past webinars.
  • Email – if you have select customers who have chosen to receive promotional information from you, send them a quick invitation.
  • Your sales people – make sure your sales force is promoting the webinar series when they go on visits to current customers or prospects. Giving your sales team an invitation template to use at will is a great tool.

2.  Take advantage of social media. There are experts out there, like David Meerman Scott, Mari Smith and Jeremiah Owyang who can tell you a lot more.  But here are just a few starter ideas that we’ve explored.

  • Facebook – if you have a company page on Facebook, post a little tidbit (again, with a link to register) on your page.  If you have an especially poignant webinar coming up, send a message to your fans letting them know about it.
  • Twitter – if your Twitter following is a market that would be interested in your webinar topic, send out a link or ask a fellow Twitter user to do so for you.
  • LinkedIn – every LinkedIn profile has the option to post a URL. It can be your company website or blog, etc.  Choose your links wisely.
  • Company blog – if your company is currently publishing a blog, create a post with a synopsis of the webinar.
  • EventSpan – this is a web site that calls itself “the virtual event network”.  You can publish a listing for your event and promote it here.

3.  Invite a guest speaker. If you are having a guest speaker (someone outside of your employee base), ask for help in promoting the event.  Here are a few ideas on how partners can help and make it a win-win for everyone:

  • Partner promotions – if your guest speaker is an author with a new book, ask them to give one away during the web presentation.  Or, if they are offering a training program, perhaps all attendees can receive a 15% discount.
  • Guest speaker’s publications and business outlets – your guest speaker, if they choose, can promote their speaking engagement just like you promoted the webinar.  They can do this through newsletters, email invitations, their social media outlets, etc.

There are always news ideas formulating out in the great big blogosphere.  So please feel free to add what you are doing to promote your virtual events in 2009!  Or, if you have questions on any of these tactics, list it in the comments below and one of our marketing gurus will get back to you! 

Cam_2Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger.  Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services.  She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.

How to use conferencing to be more efficient in 2009, part 3
January 6, 2009 @ 09:13 AM | By Cambria Vaccaro

2009-01-06-Conf-to-be-more- Happy New Year! 

Now that we are all back in the office and ramping up, I wanted to finish out our series of posts on how to use conferencing to be more efficient and effective this year. 

We’ve already talked about using conferencing in the training, legal, sales and pharmaceutical industries.  I promised you we’d cover the Technology and Marketing sectors, so here we go!


Technology

  • Crisis management – Have you ever had a production server go down in the middle of the night?  Have you ever gotten a database alert telling you it’s reached 95% capacity while you’re on vacation?  These are the times when the technology group needs crisis management – a no-frills, ready-when-you-need-it conference call.  During those few sane hours you have in the office, simply get a reservationless toll-free number set up and activate a conference call code to go with it.  Distribute it to your team and when you have a crisis, message everyone the information again (just in case they can’t find it in their sleep) and have them dial in.  With the right team members on the phone it will be easy to do a quick situation analysis and delegate duties to the appropriate people. 

  • End user support – Your group lives (and sometimes dies) by its end users.  If you have a small IT group supporting many users, chances are you’ll need a way to have remote access to those machines you are responsible for.  The advantage of using a web conferencing system for this function is that you can have more than one technical member of your team dial in and diagnose the problem!

  • Training – When you have a new procedure for handling service tickets, a new organizational structure or on call schedule, you’ll want to get your team together and discuss.  If you combine a conference call with a web conference (and maybe throw in some desktop video) you can talk to your entire team at the same time.  You can share an application to show the new ticketing procedure or see everyone’s reaction as you explain the new on-call schedule. 

Marketing

  • Deciding project scope – In marketing, what seems like a “simple” promotion can involve several teams of people including the creative group, product management, webmaster and of course, the promotions team.  So, when we have an idea for a promotion that is on our calendar, we like to get everyone together to make sure we are planning the project within reasonable time frames and product expectations.

  • Getting buy in – Has your marketing team ever had one of those “that would be so cool” ideas?  Your team conceived the idea and is convinced it will work. But, you need to get buy in from another group.  In this instance, we put together a fantastic web conference with web cams, streaming video or audio, etc.  We use anything that will relay our excitement and enthusiasm for our idea.

  • Team meetings – Every team has to meet.  Wow, do we ever meet here at InterCall!  We have monthly team meetings for our entire marketing group and then each smaller division has weekly meetings.  Our marketing group is spread across a few different cities.  So, at least once a quarter we have a video conference. It gives everyone a chance to see each other and goof around a bit, getting to know each other better.  Smaller groups generally have web meetings to discuss their on-going projects and timelines on a weekly basis.

Ok, so you may have guessed why I had a little more insight on the marketing portion of this post.  These are the methods that we have used successfully within our own team here at InterCall.  If you’re out there and you have more ideas, please share them with me!  I am always looking to give our marketing team new tools and ways to be creative.

Cam_2Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger.  Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services.  She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.

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