Kickin’ Butt and Takin’ Names
February 25, 2011 @ 08:58 AM | By Jill Huselton

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the recession forcing people to ‘do more with less’…less money, less people, less time. A recent article in USA Today looked at how companies today have smaller, more efficient staffs, which is becoming the new normal. It seems that in order to keep things moving, companies were forced to downsize or cut ‘extras’, but now people are getting used to making do and don’t necessary need to go back to the way things were pre-recession.

A lot of the changes, the article says, come from creating more efficiencies, either from combining job responsibilities after a position was eliminated, implementing new software to streamline processes or just not doing things that didn’t really add much value to the overall goals of the company. Here are some specific examples of what companies changed:

  • UPS added computerized labels on packages to better organize truck loading based on delivery sequence and to employ fewer loaders.
  • Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline combined staff for information technology, finance and other support functions that used to be replicated in each business unit.
  • Avis Rent A Car trimmed its staff of shuttlers — who drive vehicles from one rental outlet to another — by standardizing how the shuttlers are assigned, to cut idle time between trips, and the routes they take.

Have you found yourself in the situation where you’re doing double-duty: covering extra sales territories, managing additional teams, taking over projects you’re not familiar with? Using conferencing is a great way to reach more people and get more done.

  • Instead of trying to hit five cities in four days, use video conferencing to introduce yourself to the new clients you inherited.
  • You can start weekly project review meetings with a team now reporting to you using online meetings so you can include everyone and all be on the same page.
  • Even if you are making a few trips, everything doesn’t have to come to a standstill because you’re out of the office. You can join that audio conference call from the airport or your car.

Going this route not only works with the limited travel budgets you probably have, but also helps you feel like you’ve got more hours in the day; in the time it takes to travel for one meeting, you could have three or more virtually. Talk about checking things off the list!

How are things in your company? What new initiatives have you implemented to deal with smaller staffs and bigger responsibilities?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

Make New Hires Ready for the Job Faster with Web-based Training
February 22, 2011 @ 04:22 PM | By Cambria Vaccaro

No one likes to lose good employees. When people leave your company, you have to start with new hires—and this means training them. Cut down new hire ramp time with web-based training.

Web-based training gets new hires ready for the job.

Start new hire training before their first day

Get new hires started in training at night while they work their last two weeks with their current employer. By doing flex-time training over the web, you won't have to pull your seasoned employees out of the field.

Pre-record sessions for independent learning, host real-time web meetings for interaction or use a combination of the two so that new hires have a chance to learn at their own pace with the opportunity to have questions answered by seasoned veterans.

Is Web-based Training as Effective?

You know that web-based training can save you time—but is it as effective as face-to-face training? It is if you choose the right full-featured services from a reputable company like InterCall. Cisco WebExTM Training Center, provided by InterCall, gives you all the tools you need to train employees quickly and effectively:

  • Testing and Grading: Track a new hire's performance pre- and post-session.
  • Breakout Sessions: Encourage small group learning as instructors “walk around the room” to see how each group is doing and answer questions.
  • Archived Materials: Access for review at later times.
  • Attendance Tracking: Keep track of which training sessions each new hire has attended to monitor their progress.

WebEx Training Center On-Demand is an add-on feature that provides the tools for you to add course materials, recorded training sessions and assessments on the trainees' schedule.

Do you have new hires? Can web-based training help you speed up the ramp time at your company?

Cam_blog Cambria 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.

Seeing the Light Yet?
February 17, 2011 @ 09:37 AM | By Jill Huselton

As a conferencing company, it’s in our nature to promote the benefits of being able meet with people located all over the world without leaving your desk. You can see from several of our other blog posts that we’re not big on travel and truly embrace the benefits of being able to stay home (the whole work/life balance thing).

CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey to find out what kind of travel plans companies had in 2010. They found that three-in-ten (30 percent) companies said they cut back on business travel last year, and of those companies, more than one-third (37 percent) said it negatively affected their business.

When asked how fewer business trips affected their bottom lines, companies reported the following:

  • Less effective internal communication – 12 percent
  • Fewer sales – 11 percent
  • Less effective execution on internal business initiatives – 10 percent
  • Less customer loyalty – 8 percent

Many companies, though, are starting to see the light. Using audio conference calls, web conferencing and video conferencing are some ways companies are reining in their travel budgets. Forty-two percent of companies said they rely more on phone/web conferencing now to conduct business with clients, with 31 percent saying they get just as much out of virtual meetings as face-to-face meetings.

And here’s the part I love: The most unusual experiences when traveling reported by the respondents.

  • Woman next to me asked me for a drink from my water bottle.
  • Our plane was stormed by the Columbian military who thought there was a drug lord on board.
  • A client mooned the plane.
  • A naked guy tried getting in my cab in Indonesia.
  • A drunken passenger next to me insisted my headphones were a bomb.
  • U.S. marshals arrested a passenger when the plane landed.
  • A guy next to me had a carry-on bag filled with candy, which he kept offering me over and over and over again.
  • A woman gave birth on the flight.
  • After waking up, I accidentally walked into the hotel’s hallway instead of the restroom in my underwear. Got locked out and could be viewed by the elevator which was all glass windows.
  • Manager punched a co-worker on the plane.
  • Fell asleep in the airplane restroom.

What does your company have planned for travel in 2011? Do you find that reduced travel has the same effects as those reported by the respondents? Has your company adopted more conferencing in order to battle the budget crunch?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

That Slide Hurts My Eyes
February 16, 2011 @ 07:41 AM | By Sarah Murphy

How many times have you sat through an online presentation and looked at a PowerPoint® slide that has made you say to yourself “That hurts my eyes”? You know the kind of slide I’m talking about, it’s the one the presenter has crammed so much information into that it looks like a Where’s Waldo picture. In some of those pictures it’s hard to find Waldo—same with those slides; it’s hard to find the point.

Gates

First off, why do we use slides? Well I can tell you from personal presentation experience, they make the all difference between a smooth and informative speaker vs. a verbal train wreck. However, bad slides can bring down the effectiveness of the smoothest of speakers. So how do you find the balance? Check out this article from Microsoft that discusses creating slides that focus on three core principles:

  • Grabbing the audience’s attention
  • Clearly communicating information
  • Staying in control of the presentation

So now for some fun . . . here's a sample of the best of the worst. What are your top tips for creating engaging and informative PowerPoint presentations?

Conferencing…On the Go!
February 15, 2011 @ 04:21 AM | By Christina Todisco

It's a situation most of us have experienced—you need to attend a meeting when you are not able to be in a traditional 'office' Intercall-android setting. Whether you're heading to another meeting, don't have access to a landline phone or are called out of the office unexpectedly, you need to join the meeting and need to do it while you’re on the road.

InterCall's Mobile Assistant, a free smartphone application, let’s you do just that by giving you one-touch dialing into your conferences from your mobile phone. This tool stores a virtually unlimited number of conferencing profiles, although let’s hope you’re not having hundreds of meetings or you’ll never get anything done. Having to remember even one conferencing profile is a challenge, so Mobile Assistant lets you set up and store all your meeting details, from the from weekly, recurring meetings to one-time calls. To start or join InterCall audio conference call, you just have to push a single button or tap of the screen. That’s way easier than fumbling for sticky notes or scrolling through emails for the dial-in information.

This week, we’re excited to announce the latest release of Mobile Assistant for Android smartphones. In addition to Android, Mobile Assistant is also available for BlackBerry, iPhone and others

Make joining your on-the-go meetings simple. Download Mobile Assistant now!

Christina TodiscoChristina Todisco is a marketing manager at InterCall and has been in the conferencing industry since 2002. Christina currently provides product marketing support for InterCall’s audio services, reporting and invoice solutions and InterCall Online. When not working, Christina enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, family and friends.

The Doctor Will See You Now . . .Online.
February 9, 2011 @ 04:52 PM | By Sarah Murphy

Living in the “burbs” outside Boston, I sometimes take for granted the access I have to  some of the top medical institutions and specialists in the country. Some of them were the focus of an eight hour documentary series last summer called Boston Med. For me, they are only 45 minutes away. But for some, traveling to Boston for healthcare isn’t an option.

What got me thinking about this was a recent announcement from the USDA who has awarded 44 rural healthcare organizations telemedicine grants. Now at times I wish I could sit in the comfort of my own home, say “Ahh” into the webcam and get the prescription I need, however telemedicine means so much more than that for these rural healthcare organizations.

Not only will patients in these areas be able to access specialty care without worrying about time and travel, but health care providers in their area will be able to receive additional and specialized education and training though video conferencing. One specific grantee will use the funds for telestroke services that connect patients with physicians, continuing medical education for healthcare professionals at the hospital sites and a stroke recognition program to train students to recognize the warning signs of stroke and help save lives in their communities.

As you can see video technology and conferencing equipment have come a long way out of the dedicated conference room to play a critical role in healthcare. Check out our Polycom Partner Showcase to learn more about healthcare solutions that help reduce costs while delivering the technological freedom needed to maximize healthcare delivery when in person consultations aren’t possible.

Long gone are the days of house calls.  What’s your opinion of the telemedicine concept?

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is a marketing manager at InterCall. With over ten years of experience in the conferencing industry, Sarah has worked with customers and products that cover all segments of conferencing, including traditional operator attended services, video and online meeting solutions.

Managing Blind: Redefining Management in a Global Virtual World
February 4, 2011 @ 11:20 AM | By Mike Zuccato

Just because your employees aren't down the hall from you doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t need to interact. You still need to talk to your team whether they are on different floors, across town or around the globe. As a manger, it is more difficult when your employees are in a different facility, work from home or are constantly on the road.

So what can you do to be a good manager and coach when you aren’t able to always keep tabs on your team? While the same basic management principles apply, those principles are executed very differently when workers are virtual and conferencing solutions are the primary contact tools.

Join us for a free webcast on February 16 at 1:00 PM Eastern where Corinne Miller will show you the path to success by overcoming the inherent issues of managing in a global virtual world.

Register Now>>

About Our Speaker:
Corinne Miller, founder and principal consultant, Innovating Results!

Corinne Miller is founder and principal consultant at Innovating Results! where she consults, trains, facilitates and coaches on communication, specializing in virtual communications, managing a virtual workforce and virtual teaming and innovation. Corinne leverages her leadership experience at Motorola, Rockwell International, Northrop and TRW to provide unparalleled knowledge of virtual communications.

Mike Zuccato imageMike Zuccato is the senior Internet marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various online marketing strategy development and ecommerce programs. Mike has over 15 years of online marketing expertise having worked previously in the financial services and media industries. In his free time, he enjoys participating in sports leagues and spending time with his wife and two sons.

Who Can’t Use an iPad?
February 3, 2011 @ 01:00 PM | By Mike Zuccato

Have you ever thought about how you’d get things done if you couldn’t communicate? You could probably list a whole slew of things that wouldn’t be happening without the Internet, email, your phone or even snail mail.

InterCall’s all about enabling those conversations and we’re committed to offering quality audio conferencing and online meeting solutions, as well as tips and strategies for using those services to more effectively communicate.

We’re using another conversation avenue to get the word out—Twitter. Every day we’re sharing ideas about how to use conferencing to improve communication. Now, you can join the conversation and automatically be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a free iPad!

Here’s how you can enter the sweepstakes:

  1. Follow @InterCall on Twitter.
  2. Tweet the following message:

I #JoinedTheConversation with @InterCall for a chance to win an iPad! You can too: http://ow.ly/3PC68  See rules: http://ow.ly/3OU13

    3.  You're automatically entered in a sweepstakes for a chance to win a free iPad!

Joining the conversation has never been easier!

Be sure to check out our blog, follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook so you can get the latest tips and trends.

Mike Zuccato imageMike Zuccato is the senior Internet marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various online marketing strategy development and ecommerce programs. Mike has over 15 years of online marketing expertise having worked previously in the financial services and media industries. In his free time, he enjoys participating in sports leagues and spending time with his wife and two sons.

It's Business As Usual
February 3, 2011 @ 12:36 PM | By Nicole Scheel

Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, SnOMG, Snowtorious B.I.G. – all words used by my Facebook friends to describe what’s happening in Chicago right now!  At first I was a little skeptical that the “storm of the decade” was going to actually hit, but when it started the other day I became a believer.  Travel times were over three hours for a commute that would have normally taken 30 minutes, wind gusts were upwards of 50 MPH and what really solidified it for me was yesterday morning when I went to open my front door. I couldn’t because it—there was an eight foot snow drift in front of it!  It was at that moment that I thought; thank god I work for a conferencing company!

My heart goes out to those that work in professions that don’t have the ability to work from home when something like this happens. For example, my step-mom is a nurse who ended up walking five miles to the hospital because she and my dad couldn’t get the car out of the garage. Talk about dedication to her patients! 

Fortunately, for those of us who are lucky enough to be able to work from home, conferencing still allows us to conduct business as usual.  When I realized I wasn’t going to make it into the office (unlike my step-mom, I wasn’t willing to walk my 40 mile commute to work) I looked over my calendar and saw I had five meetings scheduled for the day, three of them were supposed to be in person.  I was able to open up my calendar invite and with a simple click of my InterCall Unified Meeting plug-in, I added a web and audio component to the meeting. Business as usual, well except for the 20 inches of snow that I’m looking at out my window. 

Has conferencing ever got you out of a pinch?  If so, let me know how in the comments section below.

Nichole_blog

Nicole Scheel is the Director of Training, and the “Tips & Training Blogger”. Nicole has been in training with InterCall for eleven years and currently manages our internal and customer training departments, also known as InterCall University. Nicole has her Masters in Training & Development from Roosevelt University. When she's not training someone, you can find Nicole volunteering in her community.

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