Two Is Better Than One
March 31, 2011 @ 12:09 PM | By Sarah Murphy

This week I got to thinking about famous partners like Batman and Robin, Cagney and Lacey, Inspector Gadget and Penny, although now that I think of it, Penny always solved the mystery on her own. Managing video conferencing systems and services can be a mystery that needs a good partner to help navigate it all.

According to ABI Research the global market for managed video conferencing and telepresence services will grow to $1.2 billion by 2016 from its current $512.5 million. Why so much growth? Well, as companies embrace video technology more and more, there is a service and support component to it all that sometimes isn’t part of the initial plan.

For example in some companies, their IT department resources are stretched while their end users are looking to support the investments made in communication systems. The IT staff needs to keep pace with emerging technology, which is not always their focus nor in their budget. A video managed services partner is prepared to take the extra load off the IT staff and provide the following:

  • 24x7 monitoring
  • Remote management of endpoints and infrastructure
  • Monitoring and scheduling service
  • Bridging and gateway services
  • Recording and archiving
  • Event management
  • Help desk services
  • Maintenance of hardware and software upgrades
  • Design, installation, integration and training services

So how about a partner? Our video managed services provide an end-to-end managed video solution that incorporates the list above and:

  • Full suite of video systems
  • Infrastructure for multiple environments
  • Centralized management tools
  • Integration with external devices and productivity tools

Do you have internal support for video conferencing and telepresence systems or are you thinking about a partner?

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.

It has been almost a month since we announced our acquisition of Unisfair, a leading global provider of virtual events and business environments, and plans are already underway to integrate their offering into the InterCall event product suite.

As you can probably imagine, this bold industry move has prompted many questions from our customers and others in the virtual event space. What does combining the two companies mean? How will it impact the industry as a whole? We’re confident it is going to mean great things for companies who currently host remote, online events and even those who are still looking to move in this direction. When InterCall began, hosting an operator assisted conference call was practically a modern marvel. Then came the ability to have a reservationless conference call, which again seemed like a pipedream at the time. Today, as more technology is available to an increasingly mobile and global workforce, we’re expanding our offerings again to meet the ever-evolving demands.

One way communication is evolving is the growing need to host large, engaging virtual events. With the acquisition of Unisfair, InterCall can now offer complete end-to-end solutions—from simple webcasts to comprehensive, immersive virtual shows—on a proprietary platform. Until recently, the ability to host virtual events and environments were nice-to-haves for companies, but it’s becoming the next must-have technology. By expanding our offerings in this area, InterCall is truly keeping in-step with the constantly changing face of domestic and global business communication needs.

Unisfair and InterCall have a shared vision to offer industry-leading technology to improve virtual communication and collaboration for companies around the world. By leveraging Unisfair's known and trusted offerings and InterCall's industry-leading collaboration services suite, global infrastructure and client base, we can provide state-of-the-art, specialized solutions to a broader range of customers.

InterCall was looking for a well run company that values its employees and has clientele, technology and methodologies that bring value to our existing business, and Unisfair met all of these requirements. We are excited about Unisfair’s technology, their customers and the team that has built an incredible virtual environments offering.

Have you attended or hosted virtual events or tradeshows using the type of platform Unisfair offers? What do you think? Is it the next new way to communicate with large groups of people from all over the world?

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.

My Son's 21st Century Textbook
March 29, 2011 @ 01:36 PM | By Marty Dunne

Yesterday my son came home from school with a shiny new iPad. He didn’t win it off a friend at a lunchroom game or cards or marbles. Rather, his new toy was school-provided. Every student in his high school (school size of 200) was issued one for learning purposes. It probably goes without saying that this school is very cutting-edge. MartyBlog

In an email correspondence that went to parents, the school’s educators said that in giving each student an iPad they “intend to prepare their students for the 21st century with a determination to be ahead of the curve in technology.” They go on to say that “the iPad is more than a tool, it is an idea with a world of opportunities for teachers and students to explore and elevate learning anywhere, anytime.” 

Then I come to find out that this 8’x10’ gadget that is as thin as a stenographer’s pad is essentially replacing all of my son’s textbooks. “ iPad applications allow students to practice algebra to chemistry with real-time feedback, breaking down the steps to success. Geometry will come to life with 3-D imaging and art and science will explore cross-curricular applications.” Now that sounds like a lot more fun than any text book I ever had.

Whoa! If he doesn’t need textbooks, should I be returning his LL BEAN backpack? What’s next, high school without lockers?  

Just like the fate of textbooks (and maybe lockers), our work life as we know it today will be something completely different by the time my son enters the business world. You probably have already seen the infiltration of mobility, and I bet we’re just scratching the surface. In my time at InterCall, I’ve seen the transition from operator assisted conference calls to reservationless conferencing to now being able to participate in a web conference from an iPad. Before you know it, we’ll all be using the camera features on the iPad2, and it will be like we saw on The Jetsons (back in the time when rabbit ears sat on top of your TV and you had to get up off the couch to change the channel).

I wonder what you think. Too far too fast?

MartyMarty Dunne is executive vice president of sales for InterCall. His commitment to working and playing hard results in his ability to lead a fast-paced,energetic, goal-achieving environment with over 325 field sales members in 26 offices in North America. Because Marty has worked for InterCall since 1994, he has been involved in virtually every development of conferencing’s life cycle. People often attribute Marty as the guidepost of InterCall’s street reputation, inspiring the most passionate and high-energy sales team in the industry.

I’M Waiting!
March 24, 2011 @ 01:26 PM | By Sarah Murphy

We live in a culture that is designed to minimize the amount of time we wait. From Fastpass access at Disney World to online check-in for flights and next day/overnight delivery options, minimized wait time is a big selling point. And just today I saw an ad on television for a national pharmacy chain promising 15 minute turn around time for filling prescriptions! Even in the business world we use instant messenger (IM) to eliminate the wait time for getting answers to our questions.

IM_a

Regardless if we are home-based workers or office commuters, IM helps us get questions answered quickly. But what happens when what you thought was a quick question goes a little further? What if you don’t have the luxury of walking down the hall to get the answer you need because that person is in another location? Sometimes a quick online “show and tell” session will make all the difference in getting the answers you need when you need them.

Sure you can send documents through your IM client but it can be cumbersome, slow, stall or fail. Even if it does go through, you may have distributed a copy of something that might not be ready to be shared. Or the recipient doesn’t have the program required to open what you sent. The solution? Turn your instant message into an instant meeting using InterCall Unified Meeting!

With four clicks of your mouse, you can start a meeting and use the quick invite feature to seamlessly send your IM contacts a link to join your meeting. They simply click the link in their IM window to join the meeting. No extra set-up or install required!

From there you can show and share the copy of the document, get their input and finalize it for distribution. That’s how easily you can turn an IM conversation into a real one and get more done in less time—wherever you are. No need to schedule in advance, no set-up, no wait times!

When it comes to meetings, what keeps you waiting the most?

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.

All You Germaphobes - Listen Up!
March 23, 2011 @ 08:52 AM | By Sara Steele

One out of every five adults travel for business—averaging about three nights per trip, five times per year. After a long day at work, most travelers need a nice place to unwind and rest their eyes. But, what many don’t realize is that with all this coming and going, hotel rooms may not be as clean as you want to believe.

Sure, the sheets are washed regularly, but not the bedspread which is breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Unwanted guests have even been known to live in many hotel rooms–that’s right, bed bugs! The most used item in the room is the remote control and you know most people don’t wash their hands before turning on the TV.

So, what can you do to avoid these germs and keep them out of your life? Well, for starters you can skip the business trip altogether and meet virtually through InterCall’s audio, web, and video conferencing solutions. That way you can sleep in your own germ-free bedroom and use a computer and phone that have not been contaminated by a stranger’s dirty fingers.

But when the trip is necessary, there are several pre-cautions that germaphobes can take to avoid (some of) the germs that infest these hotel rooms. Here are a few tips, as provided in Management Report Center’s Business Travel Guide for Germaphobes:

  1. Pay more, get more. Higher-priced hotels offer better services and amenities and hopefully have better trained housekeeping staff who take better care of guest rooms.
  2. Remove bed spreads and blankets. Most hotels wash the sheets after every guest but usually not the bedspreads and blankets. Think about all the people who have slept under those blankets before you and what ‘substances’ they may have left behind.
  3. Avoid using the coffee pot. If you really need a cup of coffee, make a trip to a local Starbucks. You never know how sanitary the coffee pot is or the last time it was washed.
  4. Skip the ice bucket. It’s nice that hotels offer guests ice buckets, but germaphobes may want to think twice. Was the ice bucket ever used as a barf bucket or an ash tray?
  5. Disinfect everything you touch. Antibacterial wipes are a germaphobe’s best-friend and are a must-have in hotel rooms. Wipe down every surface you come in contact with, such as door knobs, light switches, key cards and the remote control.

Is that enough to make you want to stay home? Got any hotel horror stories you want to share?

Sara SteeleSara Steele is an associate marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various corporate communication initiatives; including social media and channel marketing efforts. Sara began working with InterCall after graduating from the University of Colorado in 2006. In her free time, she enjoys running, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

One Reason to Look Forward to Summer: Microsoft Office 365
March 22, 2011 @ 01:19 PM | By Rodney Horton

Most of you have heard that Microsoft is moving “to the cloud.” Some of you may be wondering what the cloud is. Simply put, it’s the Internet. Yep, that’s all it is. Sure, you could get more technical and debate the merits of the “public cloud” versus the “private cloud”, but we’re not going to do that here.

The consumer market has embraced the cloud for email (think Yahoo and Hotmail), instant messaging (AIM/AOL, Windows Live Messenger, etc.) and social networking/sharing sites (YouTube, Facebook and Flickr). And on the business front, marketing and sales automation tools are often hosted in the cloud (Salesforce.com and Eloqua to name just a couple).

The business benefits are pretty clear when it comes to this approach: no need to buy or maintain software or hardware, no need to worry about upgrades (you’re always on the latest version!) and no need for dedicated IT staff to manage the solution—they can focus on other, more important issues. Plus, you can access information no matter where you are.

As I mentioned in a recent post, InterCall has been in the cloud for years. Companies have been leveraging our conferencing solutions over our network—safely, securely and reliably—for over 20 years. Bet you didn’t think of us as a cloud provider, did you?

With the launch of Microsoft® Office 365, an upcoming cloud offering expected to be available this summer, InterCall makes yet another leap into the cloud. The solution combines the Office applications you’re already familiar with, like Word, PowerPoint®, Excel® and more, along with Exchange® (Outlook email) Online, SharePoint® Online and Lync™ Online.

Lync, in case you didn’t know, is the next-generation of business productivity, combining instant messaging and PC-based conferencing into a single application. InterCall is partnering with Microsoft to offer a truly integrated audio conferencing solution for Lync Online, resulting in the ability to have callers dial in from traditional PSTN phone lines, as well as giving meeting attendees superior call control and support.

We’re looking forward to the launch this summer, and we‘ll be sharing more information with you as that time gets closer. Be sure to stay tuned!

Rodney Horton imageRodney Horton is senior director of hosted services for InterCall, the business unit for UCaaS and other hosted UC and collaboration solutions. Rodney spends most of his time providing direction and support to the hosting services area of InterCall by working with internal teams and external customers to develop solutions that will enable companies to save time and money through the adoption of cloud-based UC. When he’s not working with InterCall customers on their UC strategy, Rodney enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and exercising.

Can't Get Enough of Vegas
March 17, 2011 @ 11:25 AM | By Sara Steele

We just can't get enough of Vegas, so we're sticking around this week after the Channel Partners Conference & Expo for great networking with InterCall's channel partners. Are you planning to attend the Comptel Plus Convention & Expo March 20-23 at the Venetian Resort & Casino? Please join InterCall’s wholesale team for a VIP cocktail reception on Sunday, March 20, from 6:00 - 8:30 PM. Enjoy an evening of appetizers, cocktails and networking with InterCall's dynamic sales team and other VIP guests.

Win an Apple iPad
By attending our event, you'll be entered into our grand prize drawing for an iPad and a chance to win other great prizes. You won't want to miss out.

For more information, email wsinfo@intercall.com.

Sara SteeleSara Steele is an associate marketing manager at InterCall responsible for various corporate communication initiatives; including social media and channel marketing efforts. Sara began working with InterCall after graduating from the University of Colorado in 2006. In her free time, she enjoys running, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Mix and Match Technologies
March 16, 2011 @ 11:17 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Remember what happened when peanut butter and chocolate collided? Here’s a Reese’s commercial to remind you. Wouldn’t it be great if mixing and matching features from different technologies was just as easy? So what would I like to mix together? Online meetings and my TiVo.

I love my TiVo. It lets me skip commercials, records what I ask it to and finds me shows it thinks I might be interested in watching. The best part of TiVo is the ability to pause and rewind live television. Here’s where I’d like to mix it with online meetings. Yesterday during a large project team meeting it was announced that the status of the project was going in another direction. It was like a reflex reaction as I wanted to grab my TiVo remote and rewind the meeting a few seconds to repeat what I just heard. It was a large meeting so I wasn’t going to interrupt to ask the presenter to repeat himself.

Another great TiVo feature is on-demand recording. If I’m watching a program and decide part way through I want to record it, no problem. Maybe I can’t watch the entire show, but with one press of the remote, TiVo will have it waiting for me to watch later. Now for online meetings, I’m sure there are times when you have every intention to attend the whole meeting but something or someone pulls you away unexpectedly. You don’t have to miss out on the rest of the meeting—hit the instant record and it will be waiting for you as soon as you are ready. Yes, as a moderator or host this is possible today, but what if participants could create their own recordings?

Now my day dreaming is going one step further. OnStar can now read your Facebook page to you while you drive. No thumbing through you smartphone to see what’s been posted while you try to keep your eyes on the road. So how about an OnStar feature for listening to recorded meetings as you commute home? Just press the button on your rear view mirror and ask for today’s meetings or yesterday’s meetings or the meeting from a specific date. OnStar then safely plays back the meeting for you as traffic grinds to a standstill.

All these ideas are nothing more than a little day dreaming. If you could wave the magic wand, what current day technologies or features would you like to mix into your online meetings?

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.

Turning Taxes into Something Snappy
March 15, 2011 @ 11:22 AM | By Marty Dunne

I met with my tax guy today; although he was successful in getting me a refund, I left the meeting feeling sick about the enormity of tax burden that the U.S. government has put on my family this year with TAX, TAX, TAX. Uncle Sam gets me every time I buy Uncle-sam-taxes anything, make a paycheck, invest in real estate or create some capital gains. EVERYWHERE he is hitting me for more of my personal income. Who is this man named IRS? I am starting to feel like I am being robbed by a faceless person. I’m not trying to sound anti-American, but I have to ask where is this money going?

At least I can be comforted in the fact that the business at InterCall is benefiting in some respects because of the heavy hand of Uncle Sam. A new government mandate is forcing the healthcare industry to adopt an electronic medical records keeping system. Physicians and healthcare professionals are now required by law to stop writing and start keying/scanning in their patient data. Developing this technology system is not free. The industry is describing it as an initiative to improve the flow of information, create accuracy and reduce medical costs over time.

It is called telemedicine. Simply defined, telemedicine refers to the delivery of medical care using telecommunications, including: phone, email, Internet and other channels. In short, the government wants to mandate that all hospital records are captured electronically for easy access and movement.

One other advantage of telemedicine is to provide rural areas with access to preferred medical staff. Hot-shot urban docs can join patient consultations via video conference into areas that typically don’t receive the best medical advice or care. In a well-run, well-managed video infrastructure, anyone can have access to any medical specialist. With the advent of electronic medical records, a physician in New York City could access the medical history, tests, charts, data, etc., of a patient in rural West Virginia and, via video conference, diagnose and provide care without either party having to travel. Some may question the sacrifice of losing face-to-face interaction and bedside care with your doctor. I have become a very regular user of video conferencing, and it’s my personal opinion that this is a very reasonable opportunity.

Anyway, if my hard-earned dollars that I may normally use for a new sharp jacket or an opportunity to upgrade from my eight-year- old car are used to support these kinds of improvements, then I have lost some angst with our system and good old Uncle Sam.

Technology creates speed and precision—even for my tax guy. My small tax refund was arranged entirely without paper. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll notice an activity line in my checking account signaling that the IRS has electronically deposited my refund. Now that’s kinda snappy.

MartyMarty Dunne is executive vice president of sales for InterCall. His commitment to working and playing hard results in his ability to lead a fast-paced, energetic, goal-achieving environment with over 325 field sales members in 26 offices in North America. Because Marty has worked for InterCall since 1994, he has been involved in virtually every development of conferencing’s life cycle. People often attribute Marty as the guidepost of InterCall’s street reputation, inspiring the most passionate and high-energy sales team in the industry.

TGiF: Thank Goodness iPad Friday!
March 10, 2011 @ 11:04 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Excitement is building in my house as we count down the days until the release of the iPad2 on Friday. “Officially” it will be my husband’s iPad but I can’t wait to try it using InterCall Unified Meeting! I know what you are saying, there are so many other fun things to do with an iPad and I’m excited about meetings. Well meetings are my business; but don’t worry, we’ll get to the fun stuff.

IUM_iPad2

For a while now, hosts have been able to use their iPads to conduct better meetings with InterCall Unified Meeting to manage their audio conferences. Now through a recent software upgrade, you can host your meeting AND show PowerPoint slides to your audience using your iPad (or iPhone). Before you hit the road, upload your slides to your InterCall Unified Meeting Conference Manager and you are ready to meet. No lengthy set up, application download or app store purchase required!

When it comes to conducting better meetings, keeping your audience engaged with visuals is a key component. Participants can also use their iPad or iPhone to join your meetings with one tap and view your presentation. Again, no download or app store purchase required.

So now you know what we will be doing at my house this weekend, in between having some fun perfecting our scores of Angry Birds. Have you tried InterCall Unified Meeting using your iPad or iPhone? If so, let us know what you think.

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.

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