Fast Forward: The Communication Evolution
June 30, 2011 @ 12:10 PM | By Ashley Davies

When I originally joined InterCall in August 2009, I was given the company standard cell phone, a Nokia 6700. It’s a pretty basic phone; it comes with a camera and can send texts and make phone calls. For me, it was great because I had a phone that I didn’t have to worry about the bills for!

Fast-forward six months to February 2010 and the decision I made to purchase my first smartphone, a Nokia E63. This phone seemed to do it all; not only did it support picture messaging, but it had push-email, full web browser capabilities and an instant messaging client.

Fast forward another 12 months to February 2011 when I upgraded again to a Google powered HTC Wildfire. This phone does everything that my E63 could, plus I can now have a point-to-point video call, update all my social networks simultaneously and customise my phone to work how I want it to!

Evolution-of-cell-phones

So where am I going with this story? Well, in the space of two years, I’ve gone from being excited about having a mobile phone that could take a picture and make a call, to needing a phone that unifies separate applications I use day-to-day into one single device.

We see technology advancing in the consumer world at an incredible pace, and it’s always ahead of the curve of adoption within the workplace. Take the rise of Facebook and Twitter for example. We’re now seeing business-grade alternatives for the workplace from the likes of SalesForce.com's Chatter and Yammer, yet they are three or four years behind the consumer trend.

Looking around the office today, I suddenly realised the sheer amount of smartphones littered around people’s desks had dramatically risen over the last year. Now that the majority of consumers are converting to unified devices (aka smartphones)—up by a staggering  100 milllion additional units in 2011—I believe we’ll see businesses truly start to adopt unified technology in the workplace over the course of the next 18-24 months.

Like cell phones, Unified Communications is constantly evolving as technology and devices develop and become more interoperable. Audio conferencing solutions, web conferencing and video conferencing are integral aspects of Unified Communications, and InterCall is blazing the trail within this segment through the deployment of Unified Desktop.

And just like the move from a Nokia 6700 to the HTC Wildfire, Unified Desktop turns your siloed work station into a multi-channel communication tool that allows organisations to increase productivity through the unification of devices onto one platform. It integrates conferencing and collaboration, messaging and telephony, with an element of presence, into one single, easy-to-use interface.

With all these transformations taking place in our work environments, what tools have you adopted that increase your productivity?

Ashley DaviesAshley Davies is the small and medium sized business (SMB) manager in InterCall’s UK and European (EMEA) division and is responsible for managing the suite of services InterCall offers that are specifically designed for SMB customers. Before joining InterCall, Ashley worked as the sales manager for a free publication and studied for a degree in entrepreneurship and small business. In his spare time, Ashley likes to surf and work on his house.

InterCall Announces Integration with Microsoft Lync Online
June 28, 2011 @ 11:33 AM | By Damon Martin

I’m in New York today for the launch of Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 is a subscription service that combines the familiar Office desktop suite and Outlook (Exchange) with cloud-based versions of collaboration services SharePoint Online and Lync Online. If you want some background information, check out our past blog on Office 365.

If you haven’t heard, InterCall has partnered with Microsoft to offer integrated audio conferencing with Lync Online. I’m especially excited for this launch because of the unique value we bring to Office 365.

Why do I think you should partner with InterCall for Office 365? 

1. Features

  • Enable external participants to join meetings
  • Connect on multiple devices
  • Call scheduling via Outlook®
  • Dial-in and dial-out
  • Mute/unmute
  • Lock/unlock
  • End conference
  • VoIP/PSTN integration, including mixed recording
  • *0 in-call support

But you don’t get to be the world's leading conferencing provider (based on Wainhouse Research in 2010) with features alone.

2. Support

We have a 24/7 global support with certified agents skilled in all aspects of Office 365. We provide tier 1 and 2 support to our customers, as well as pre-sales technical assistance and consultations. Free online and recorded training sessions are included.

3. Expertise

InterCall’s professional services for Office 365 are second to none. We offer custom training and adoption programs. For companies that need more in-depth assistance with deployment of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, we have professional migration services to help transition, configure and support data and operations from legacy applications to Office 365 solutions.

Add to that the fact that InterCall is a Microsoft Silver Certified Partner and national systems integrator (NSI), plus the multiple certifications we hold, and I think you can see why I’m excited to be a part of this launch.

For more information:
US and Canada or EMEA

Dan Damon Martin is vice president of sales for West UC Solutions, InterCall’s dedicated team of UC specialists. Based in Wichita, Kansas, Damon oversees InterCall’s systems integration and consulting services. When he’s not working with InterCall customers on their UC strategy, Damon enjoys spending time with his family, boating and reading.

Virtual Events: Where’s the Beef?
June 23, 2011 @ 02:23 PM | By Jill Huselton

I attended my first ‘real’ virtual event today, and I have to say, it was pretty cool. This is a service that InterCall offers through Unisfair, a company that we recently acquired, so I’ve seen how it works, but never experienced it firsthand.

Today’s event was hosted by the American Marketing Association through their VirtualXchange series. I’ve been to plenty of on-site training sessions and conferences, and even though I sat at my desk for this one, I still got the same benefits out of it, and probably some extra perks (not having to leave my office is at the top of the list).

Beef

When I entered the lobby, I saw signs pointing me in the direction of the networking lounge, the auditorium where the presentations took place, a download center where I could get any information about the sponsors I wanted and the exhibit hall where I could chat with sponsor representatives. And what event wouldn’t be complete without some kind of goodie bag or raffle? This online event was no exception; there was a prize center where you could earn points in order to win giveaways.

So, how was the ‘beef’ of the event, the actual presentations? Did I get as much out of it as I would have if I were there in person? I would say it is about 90% comparable to the real thing. The presentations were streamed, so there were slides, pictures of the speakers and interactive Q&A, just like a live event.

Other pros:

  • I didn’t have to sit in those standard event chairs (burlap covered foam and cardboard). Instead I got to stay in my comfy office chair and desk.
  • I could still listen to the seminar while doing a few other urgent tasks that otherwise would have prevented me from attending.
  • Asking a question resulted in less anxiety because the whole room didn’t turn to see the girl in the back of the room with her hand up.
  • Using streaming kept me at my desk because I could only hear the presenter through my computer speakers (as opposed to using audio conferencing and web conferencing because I tend to wander with my cordless phone and not always watch my screen).
  • I felt it was an efficient use of my time because I could make my own agenda based on my schedule. I wasn’t forced to spend a whole day in a hotel and meander through exhibit booths or sit around in a lobby until the presentation I came to hear was ready to begin.

I suppose you could say that some of these pros are also cons from a marketing perspective; however, feeling like I’m in control will make me a repeat attender and eventually a buyer.

Have you either hosted or attended an event in a virtual environment like this? What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks?

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.

There's a debate brewing in online conferencing: What's the difference between a web conference and a webinar? Is there one?

Online Meeting Tools Review sheds some light on the subject with an interesting post explaining the difference.

According to the post:

A web conference is a non-public online meeting emphasizing collaboration. One person may be the host, but desktop sharing and other tools make it easy to switch the role of presenter.

A webinar, on the other hand, is often open to the public and offers more of a single presenter and large audience ambiance. The experience for the audience is largely passive, although tools such as polls, chat functions and Q&A sessions can add interactivity to a webinar.

Conferencing Software for Online Web Conferencing
Now that you know the difference between the types of online conferencing programs, you can decide on the best software for your purposes. Small meetings, project assessments and “touch-base” sessions, as well as some collaborative sales meetings where your prospects may be expected to have a lot of questions, would fall under the web conference umbrella.

Look for conferencing software with collaborative tools such as desktop and file sharing, shared web browsing and easy “one-click” entry into meetings.

Conferencing Software for Webinars
Training (customer or employee), marketing seminars and press conferences are considered webinars.

You'll want chat functions for attendees, the ability to poll attendees and to host question and answer sessions. Additionally, you'll want tools for marketing your webinar in advance and to follow up with attendees after the event, as well as tools to track attendance.

Before you can select the best web conferencing software for your company, you need to define your conferencing purposes and goals.

Don't forget to consider InterCall’s streaming services as another option for one-to-many presentations. 

What meetings could you replace with web conferencing?  Are there opportunities for you to save time and money by hosting a webinar? If you need help assessing the right solution for your business, use our interactive tool to get started. 

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.

What Does an Extra Hour Really Get You?
June 15, 2011 @ 09:00 AM | By Jill Huselton

Last weekend my son graduated from pre-school. I’m not sure when this event became momentous enough to warrant a ceremony complete with cap and gown and the playing of a recorded version of Pomp and Circumstance over a horrible sound system, but now it seems to be the norm. My family and I sat in the audience cheering and trying to get pictures, while, as my husband says, we shed two tears: a sentimental one because our son is moving on to kindergarten and a jubilant one because we wrote our final daycare check.

Clocks

As we were driving home, another thought struck me: I will save an hour each day by not driving back and forth to daycare. Sixty minutes. Get in a workout. Make a trip to the grocery store. Finish some emails. Read the paper. This is almost as exciting as the essential raise we are getting.

We talk a lot about the value of conferencing and how you can get more time in your day by having a web conference instead of driving across town for a meeting. Because I don’t travel very often for my job, the concept of getting some time back never really sunk in. Now, though, it is in a context that really hits home. Even just having an extra hour can reduce your stress level and make you more productive.

So, if the solution for getting more time back in your day isn’t the end of daycare drop-off and pick-up, could it be conferencing? Can you cut even one trip out of your schedule and earn an extra day (oh, imagine that!)? What about leaving work early to avoid rush hour and taking your end-of-the-day meeting in the car or at home? Have you found other ways to utilize conferencing to your advantage?

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.

Investor relations is a touchy business—one innocent misstep raises eyebrows and could place your company under scrutiny. Transparency is expected as the minimum: What can you do to set your company apart? Your web conferencing software can help you keep investors in the loop on everything from quarterly IR calls to important announcements.

If you're already using web conferencing software to host your annual IR call, here are some more ideas to help you manage investor relations and maintain transparency throughout the year.

  1. Hold board of director meetings. Easy to use meeting software lets you host planned board of director meetings. Web conferencing service software like Microsoft® Office Live Meeting, offered by InterCall, integrates with Microsoft Office Suite, meaning board members won't miss a meeting when invitations and reminders are delivered straight to Outlook®.
  2. Update investors on changes and developments in your company. Have an important announcement? Don't send it off in literature that no one reads. Invite your investors to a web meeting where you can answer questions using a variety of tools like shared web browsing, video and PowerPoint.
  3. Meet with analysts and media. Maintain your commitment to transparency with regular meetings with financial analysts and the media. Use a webinar to share exciting news and make sure to leave plenty of time for questions and answers.
  4. Your web conferencing service can help you meet federal requirements for archiving IR meetings on tight deadlines. You can put an archive link on your web site and also use EncoreSM to listen to a digital recording of the meeting through a dial-in number. Podcasts permit investors to download the recorded conference onto their MP3 player or aggregator such as iTunes.

What other tips do you have for hosting succesful investor relations events?

 

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.

Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You
June 6, 2011 @ 12:28 PM | By Tonya Hottmann

When logging on to Twitter, we are greeted by dozens of new tweets from various companies and organizations—bombarded with 140 character headlines and statements carefully designed to jump out at us and rise above the rest.  We have usually chosen to receive these messages, and though some of the tweets are read carefully, many others are looked over and forgotten the second they leave the screen.

Twitter and other social media avenues have proven to have real value for companies—incredibly so for the ones that are using the tools effectively.

Want to ensure your company is effectively reaching consumers via your social media strategy?  Jeff Molander, an adjunct professor of digital marketing at Loyola University's business school and former co-founder of the Google Affiliate Network, will show you how to use social media to generate leads, sales and loyalty.

Join us for our free webinar, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, on Wednesday, June 22. Hosted by Jeff Molander, you’ll learn how a simple process makes social media pay tangible business dividends, starting tomorrow. You'll be entertained and informed as Jeff confirms your suspicions about social media gurus and empowers you to take action yourself. He'll lay out a clear way to make tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn actually produce leads and sales for your business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Make social media sell.
  • Invest time in ways that don't spin wheels.
  • Avoid 3 common 'best practices' that often do more harm than good.

Register now>>

About Our Speaker
Jeff Molander is adjunct professor of digital marketing at Loyola University's business school, former co-founder of the Google Affiliate Network and author of Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell. Since 1997, Jeff has been advising retailers and chief executives on how to get more leads and sales from web marketing. Audiences measure Jeff on his ability to demonstrate practical ways to net leads and sales using tools like Twitter and Facebook. That's why he is the authority on making social media sell.

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for direct response marketing programs. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and spending summer days at the beach.

Better Line Quality Means Fewer Distractions
June 3, 2011 @ 09:08 AM | By Christina Todisco

I had some great feedback from my blog post last week that covered best practices to follow when hosting audio conference calls. Along with making sure you are prepped and ready to go with all the logistics of your meeting, there are a few things you and your participants can do to keep your lines clear and therefore reduce distractions.

3079917-lots-of-black-telephone-lines

  • Electronic devices (such as BlackBerrys or cell phones and associated hands-free devices, laptops, etc.) can interfere with line quality if located too close to the phone. If possible, place such items a good distance away from the phone you are using for the conference call.
  • If you are conducting back-to-back calls, make sure to disconnect your initial conference call line prior to dialing back in for the next call. (Failing to do so could produce a ‘flash hook’ scenario, which feeds a loud signal into the call.)
  • When entering your conference code and leader PIN do not press the keys too quickly—this will enable the system to ‘read’ them most effectively.
  • During an Operator Assisted Q&A session, participants should pick up their handsets to ask questions. This will ensure the best possible audio quality and volume from their lines.
  • If you are conducting a call using a conference room phone, microphone or speakerphone, be aware of the location of the phone/microphone at all times and speak directly into the device to ensure the best possible audio quality and volume.
  • If you are conducting an Operator Assisted conference call using a conference room phone, microphone or speakerphone, test the volume and line clarity with the operator prior to starting the call.

These tips should help your conferences run smoothly, but if you do have issues, our tech support team is there to help at any time. You can press *0 on your phone keypad during your conference to bring an operator into your call or press 00 to speak one-on-one outside of the meeting. You can also call us ahead of time if you have questions.

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.

Life on the Road: Bad for Your Health?
June 1, 2011 @ 02:06 PM | By Sara Steele

Whenever I leave town for business or pleasure, I always pack at least one workout outfit and a pair of running shoes. I tell myself that I should find some time to exercise while away from home. What I’ve found (over and over and over again) is that it ends up doing nothing more than taking up suitcase space.

And, then there’s the eating out. While I go out to dinner with full intentions of selecting a healthy salad, it rarely happens. It seems that when I arrive at the restaurant all I want is french fries and beer. So, I order it. After all, I am on vacation.

There’s no harm in letting your healthy practices slip every once in awhile. But what about those business travelers who are consistently on the road?  Not surprisingly, a recently published survey found that a life on the road can have negative consequences to your health. The study, which analyzed data gathered from roughly 13,000 workers, found that those who traveled more than 20 nights a month were 2.61 times more likely to report they were in poor or fair health than those on the road one to six days a month. And they were 1.92 times as likely to be obese. Not to mention the well-known stresses and airborne illnesses that come hand in hand with busy airports and hit-and-miss hotels.

So, how can you avoid the negative impacts travel has on your mental and physical health? For starters, you can skip the trip altogether and meet instead with InterCall's audio, web, and video conferencing. By meeting virtually, you can save money, improve productivity and, most importantly, stick to your regular daily routine. But, when the trip has to be made there are things you can do to curb the negative health effects. Here are a few things that work for me:

  • Choose hotels that have gyms – When traveling, convenience is everything. By selecting a hotel with a well-equipped gym, I’m more likely to make time for a workout.
  • Take a trip to the grocery store – Eating out meal after meal can be a recipe for disaster.  A quick trip to the grocery store for some healthy snacks can make a huge difference in your diet.
  • Remember to take time to yourself – Just because you’re in another city doesn’t mean you have to be on-the-go 24/7. Take a night for yourself to rent a movie and go to bed early.

What do you do to balance your health while on the road?

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.

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