Best Practices in Migrating to UC
November 29, 2013 @ 01:05 PM | By Bob Wise

Deck

Sometimes the difference between a successful Unified Communications deployment and a truly transformative change to the organization lies in the use of just a few best practices. We’ve seen how many different organizations tackle this migration and I’d like to share 3 practices that stack the deck in your favor.

  • A comprehensive UC strategy incorporates real-time collaboration applications that advance productivity while minimizing communication costs. So from the beginning, include voice, video, data, mobile integration and IM as well as audio/video/web conferencing in your solution. The usage of any one tool tends to go up when presented as part of a larger suite of tools.
  • A high impact UC strategy considers business process improvement to be a key objective from the outset, not as something to tackle later, if at all. High performing clients leverage the huge opportunity to review the ways in which alternative communications channels can positively impact their business-critical processes. That includes both internal processes and those directly impacting customers as well. In either case, you’ll have an opportunity to providing your organization with a source of significant, lasting competitive advantage.
  • Once IT is done “kicking the tires”, consider deploying UC to members of the organization and/or those business units that have the greatest opportunity for productivity gains. The desire for employees to use this technology will often spread organically throughout the organization. Also, don’t neglect the need for training and communication as to how the user most effectively uses the technology in their daily worklife.

These are just three of the best practices that I’ve seen clients use of the years. Certainly there are more. One of the advantages our clients have when working with us is that we have been intimately involved with so many high achieving organizations and we can help your team adopt the practices that make the most sense for your team too.

Robert WiseAs EVP for West IP Communications, Bob is responsible for guiding long term business strategy, partner relationships and day to day management and operations, ultimately helping the company maintain its position as the leading hosted IP Communications and UC company in the industry. West IP Communications was recently recognized by Gartner as a Leader in their magic quadrant for UCaaS for its strong vision to transform the ways in which businesses communicate, its innovation, agility and, most importantly, its unwavering focus of delivering results for its clients. Prior to his current role, Bob was Vice President of Business Development and UC for InterCall, the leading global conferencing provider in the market and part of West Corporation and led West Corporation’s acquisitions of Smoothstone IP Communications, a leading IP telephony and hosted network provider, SKT Business Communications Solutions, a UC professional services provider, and PostCTI, a leading provider of UC components, systems, professional services and hosted services in Europe. His skills and leadership have been instrumental in building services, solutions and strategic partnerships that continue to advance the firm’s position as a leader in the Unified Communications industry. A law graduate of Loyola University, Bob joined the company in 1998 and served as General Counsel for several years before becoming Vice President of Marketing. Additionally, he served as President of Genesys SA, a global conferencing service provider acquired by InterCall in 2008. Before joining InterCall, Bob practiced corporate law and was Vice President of Imagination Entertainment Corporation.

This Winter, Stay Off the Road and Walk to Your Conference
November 29, 2013 @ 10:33 AM | By Christina Todisco

It’s about 300 below zero outside. There is so much snow, you can’t even find your car, let alone plow your driveway. You glance up and down your street and see your poor neighbors committing Herculean efforts just to plow their driveways before having to work even harder at the office. And, to make matters worse, it’s not even done snowing yet.

You laugh as you sip your coffee and head back inside. Luckily for you, there is nothing blocking the way to your home office. And since you recently invested in a reliable conference call service for your mobile device, your 9 a.m. conference call with your most important client will be able to proceed smoothly.

When it comes down to it, there are a million things that can prevent you from communicating with the people you need to. Inclement weather, traffic jams and disconnected phone lines could all arise at the last minute and disrupt your meeting plans. Therefore, as a solution, it is imperative that you have access to the latest conference call technology right from your cell phone. With a full suite of conferencing services made easily accessible and at any given time, it’s like carrying your desk phone in your pocket 24x7.

These features include frequently used conferencing numbers and codes so that you never have to worry about finding them, as well as the ability to break out into small groups directly from the conference. Likewise, you can gain complete visibility into who is on your conference call, as well as who is speaking.

We want to know, what is the most ridiculous weather that you have held a conference call in? Tornados? Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Tell us below!

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.

This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Conference Calls
November 27, 2013 @ 12:54 PM | By Jill Huselton

Thankful

This year as you enjoy the office potluck to celebrate Thanksgiving with your “work husband or wife”, take a few moments to think about what makes you thankful about the place where you spend 40+ hours per week. Maybe it’s the new coffee machine in the break room or the earbuds a cubemate recently purchased so you no longer have to listen to his music selections. Perhaps it is the little things like the new pens the office manager recently ordered or something bigger, like the fact that you are employed.

How about your workplace technology that helps your day just a little bit easier? Maybe you should give a nod to the old standby that makes your whole job tick: your conference call system.

Granting you the ability to connect with clients or coworkers and make critical business decisions despite great geographical disparities, tight budgets and time restrictions, conference calls are like the glue that keeps your team together and in constant communication. And, let’s not forget that conference calls and online meetings might have enabled you to still have that important client meeting without the need to travel, which made it possible for you to be home for your son’s championship basketball game or even be in the office for this potluck.

We might get tired of the 9-5 office routine, but take a moment to look on the bright side and appreciate the things that make your job just a little easier or more enjoyable. Whether it is the office supplies, beverage selections or even conference calls, we all have something to be thankful for.

Now that you’ve thought about it, have conference call technologies improved your work life? What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

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.

Disruption, Doom and Disaster Recovery for IT
November 26, 2013 @ 10:15 AM | By James Whitemore

IT Fail

NASDAQ recently experienced a 3-hour disruption in trading due to a network failure. If that doesn’t highlight the critical need for a disaster recovery plan, I’m not sure what would.  Can you imagine the organizational turmoil that resulted from this?  When NASDAQ isn’t trading, that results in millions of dollars of lost revenue.  Even if your organization isn’t trading millions, a disruption in your organization’s communications is a critical factor that has far-reaching implications.  What if your employees couldn’t access critical business communications?  Imagine the phone calls you’d (eventually) receive. Or even worse yet, imagine the customers that just faded away, along with their business and good will.

One of the most compelling factors that drives consideration of a hosted UC solution is its disaster recovery capabilities.  Continuity of communications is critical to the lifeblood of any enterprise organization.  Losing communications could mean losing customers and revenue, and ultimately damaging your company’s reputation.  Although redundancy built into your network architecture is a viable solution, not every enterprise organization has the IT budget (in dollars, human capacity, or time) to support this.  For those organizations that don’t have a blank checkbook, a cloud-based solution can ensure access to voice, video, data, IM/presence, email and audio/video/web conferencing as well as communications integrated within your business processes in a more cost-effective way.  Whether the employee is in the corporate headquarters or working remotely, your company’s communications are maintained due to the fact that your IT infrastructure is in the cloud which, when structured properly by your partner, automatically provides high availability and disaster recovery.

NASDAQ’s failure will continue to be analyzed and questions will be asked as to how to ensure similar failures don’t recur.  Consider cloud-based UCaaS from West IP Communications as a cost-effective way to prevent disaster and remove one more significant potential threat from your competitive landscape.

James WhitemoreJames Whitemore is senior vice president of sales and marketing at West IP Communications, the team that delivers InterCall’s unified communication services. InterCall and West IP Communications are both a part of West Corporation. James holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Business from Newcastle University in the U.K. and currently resides in Boulder, CO. In his downtime, James is an avid skier with an enthusiasm for traveling and car collecting.

Conference Calls Can Be Your “Gravity”
November 25, 2013 @ 04:01 PM | By Christina Todisco

Gravity

There is a horrifying scene in the recently released film “Gravity” where Sandra Bullock’s character is stranded in outer space, trying to reach mission control back on Earth. Unfortunately, she can’t get through to the team back home. It makes you wonder: Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island like Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’ or stuck in outer space?

While you might not be heading into space any time soon, chances are you and your teammates frequently hit the road for important meetings and conferences. As “Gravity” shows us, there are many perils that come from failed technology. Business depends heavily on strong communication and, without it, a mission critical situation stands a good chance of flopping. So you’d best have a reliable communication device that you can utilize whenever you need.

InterCall’s conference call technology is advanced enough so that if you are sitting in a hotel lobby in Tucson, you’ll have access to the same services you’d find at you desk in Boston. This includes a reliable application that grants complete visibility into a conference call directly from the interface of a mobile device. In the past, there was no way to see other callers on the same line. Now, this is possible by using the proper web conferencing tools.

Additionally, mobile conference users gain the ability to store numbers in the directory for frequently used conferences. This reduces the need to write information down on paper, which provides increased security measurements, not to mention ease of use. There is also no chance of losing a conference telephone number before an important meeting.

InterCall’s services include support for multiple phone types, including Android®, BlackBerry® and iPhone®as well as Android tablets and iPads. For more information on InterCall’s mobile solutions, please click here.

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.

To Travel, or Not to Travel?
November 25, 2013 @ 09:31 AM | By Jill Huselton

Twenty years ago, meeting with your important Tokyo-based client would have meant packing several days in advance before embarking on a long, overseas voyage. It would have meant missing time at the office, as well as your family. Not anymore.

 

Save on travel expenses. Utilize business conferencing.

 

Communication technology gives you options

Today, the trip to Tokyo has gotten a lot shorter. In fact, you can now easily get to Japan by walking down the hallway and sitting right in your own conference room—and you can still be home by 6. That’s because more and more businesses are choosing to do away with traditional business trips in favor of working out deals over conference calls.

Conferencing features make online meetings more productive

When you choose to engage in a conference call, you will gain all of the necessary features for conducting a productive real-time meeting, without the headache of having to spend thousands of dollars for an expedited trip across the world.

These features include operator assistance, as well as the ability to break out into smaller groups to discuss important ideas. Just remember to consider your participants’ time zones when you are scheduling the meeting (What’s Your Conferencing Curfew?).

Once the talking is done and it’s time to get down to the real business of signing important contracts or leveraging critical documents, you can simply log into a unified, online meeting. Here, documents can be shared and edited in real-time over a single web interface.

Conference calls are one example of a business practice that is constantly evolving. What was impossible twenty years ago is now effortless, and costs a fraction of the price that traveling to a destination would.

Have you had any success connecting with a client overseas using a conference call? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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.

Do You Get Nervous During Audio Conferences? Write a Script!
November 22, 2013 @ 02:00 PM | By Christina Todisco

Script

Picture this: you have been pouring over your notes all afternoon. You are well versed and prepared to speak. Then, you chime into the conference call to address your audience and—

…what was that key point you were going to make?

Let’s face it: we all blank out sometimes and forget what we are supposed to be talking about during conference calls. If this describes you, or if you struggle to remain on task, a simple solution is to spend some time before the call outlining exactly what you want to say. That way, you will stay relaxed and will be able to focus on elaborating on specific points of interest.

This strategy will help people who have a tendency to get excited about certain issues and stray from topics on whim. For this type of conference caller, a story will turn into a tangent and pretty soon a 15 minute phone call will turn into a 45 minute lecture. While there is a time and a place for rambling, a script will help you navigate your way successfully through a call without wasting anyone’s time.

This is also a good idea if you are in an open office environment. When there are lots of people around, distractions—laughter, an enthusiastic conversation or even a door slam—can easily throw the most focused person off track. Having an outline or script you can refer to helps you stay on point.

Another reason why you should consider writing a script is so that you will be able to handle random questions when they arise. This is the Payton Manning philosophy. Prepare ahead of time and know exactly what you will do in any situation. Spend some time before the call thinking of random questions that might arise that will require improvising and how you will handle them so that you never appear flustered or off-guard.

An easy way to prevent completely random questions from arising is to send out an agenda ahead of time to those who will be on the conference. This way, everyone will be on the same page and the conference will run smoothly.

Do you have an agenda template that works for your meetings? Share it below.

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.

Execution of a UC Strategy Requires Partnership
November 22, 2013 @ 11:18 AM | By James Whitemore

UC

The successful deployment of a unified communications solution requires a true partnership. An effective partnership leverages the expertise and knowledge of both parties focused on a shared objective. At West IP Communications, we have enjoyed a long history of client relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Because continued communications is essential to a business, it is imperative that you identify a technology partner that you can entrust with the future enablement of your company’s business communications and operations.

One recent client that has come to see West IP Communications as a partner had been researching the benefits associated with a UC strategy to enable better communications between its U.S. location and its offices across the Atlantic. The need for more efficient collaboration between employee locations plus the opportunity to consolidate the company’s data and voice networks and enable key applications like IM/presence were the primary drivers. And yet, this was an enterprise IT organization that didn’t have a history of outsourcing. However, this was a fantastic example of how we were able to leverage each other’s knowledge and expertise to produce a solution that significantly increased collaboration and efficiency while addressing the necessary regulatory issues required.

The client was extremely knowledgeable in managing their data networks to address their industry’s regulatory requirements and yet the client’s existing in-house knowledge of specific telephony and application management solutions was not as strong. Enter West IP Communications. This combination of the client’s knowledge in combination with West IPC’s expertise in deploying a UC solution that integrates enterprise communications via an application-aware network provided the solution required. It truly was a sharing of information to get to the best possible outcome.

When you evaluate UC vendors as potential partners, keep this notion of true partnership in mind. Ask yourself:

  • Is this company all about a single proprietary solution or can they work with us to create options that are right for our business?
  • How much time do they spend getting to understand our infrastructure, our processes, and our goals?
  • Do they have a history of strong client retention?
  • Are they willing to share their knowledge with us freely and without reservation – or are they relying on a ‘black box’ approach that shields information from us?

If you are anything less than satisfied with the answers you get, then maybe a true partnership isn’t what this vendor is looking for. And if that’s true, what is it they are looking for?

James WhitemoreJames Whitemore is senior vice president of sales and marketing at West IP Communications, the team that delivers InterCall’s unified communication services. InterCall and West IP Communications are both a part of West Corporation. James holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Business from Newcastle University in the U.K. and currently resides in Boulder, CO. In his downtime, James is an avid skier with an enthusiasm for traveling and car collecting.

What’s Your Conferencing Curfew?
November 21, 2013 @ 09:41 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Online meetings

Imagine it is 7 pm on the East Coast. You are just sitting down to dinner after a long day when you get a call from your client in California asking to jump on an online meeting with your team. Do you pick up the call, politely decline or follow up with an email?

There is no right or wrong answer in this situation. Each client will come with different needs and will therefore have to be handled uniquely. Unfortunately, since we are living in an ultra-connected era of instant communication, we often forget about basic etiquette when it comes to setting up impromptu meetings. Just because a business partner has the ability to engage in online meetings at any point over his or her cell phone Bringing Your Business On-the-Go doesn’t mean it is always polite to ask that individual to do it. It is important to remember that this is a privilege that should not be abused so that when key players are needed, they will be available. The last thing you want to do is have people start to screen your calls.

Some organizations, however, are taking a different approach to customer service. In the Philippines, for instance call center agents operate under a Western time zone and celebrate American holidays so that they can work during hours when contacts who are on a different schedule can access them. While this is an extreme case, it shows that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to customer service.

The most important thing you can do is to remain consistent with your availability. Establish appropriate call times with clients and co-workers in different time zones early on so that there are ground rules in place for calling and meeting hours. That way, when someone has to make a call after hours, it will not be a recurring instance and the recipient will know that it is important. Otherwise, email communication should suffice.

 How late are you willing to join a meeting with a client? And how do you set expectations accordingly? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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.

’Tis the Season for Increased Staff – and Training Logistics
November 18, 2013 @ 09:47 AM | By Jill Huselton

Blackfriday

When you think of holiday shopping, you might envision a trembling employee standing in front of a set of locked doors while legions of crazed consumers pound on the glass demanding to be let inside. It’s not a pretty picture, and a company that is understaffed or underprepared will have a hard time competing during the holiday rush.

Therefore, companies are well aware that they need to step up their game during the holiday season to accommodate hordes of shoppers. Online giant Amazon, for example, has reportedly hired 70,000 more workers to prepare for its expected increase in sales. But acquainting 70,000 additional employees with the protocol of an international behemoth will not be an easy task.

To make matters worse, there is not much time to accomplish this task. Managers are busy during the holiday season and, understandably, lack the ability to allocate a large amount of time for training new or temporary employees. Still, it is necessary to prevent pitfalls related to the quality of customer service – especially when workers are spread out all across the globe.

This is where a conference call solution can put organizations of any size ahead of the game. Using audio, video or the web, seasonal employees can participate in training sessions from multiple locations (even the comfort of their own homes). With web conferencing and video streaming, managers need not sacrifice their organization’s pre-holiday reputation in order to oversee dozens of training sessions. Instead, they can reach thousands of employees at the same time. Suddenly, the obstacles of time, travel and venue have been removed – allowing you to focus on decorating those windows or touting the steals and deals that will send consumers flocking.

Have you had success training a large amount of employees with a conference call?Please describe your experience in the comments section below.

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.

Conference Survival Tips from the Walking Dead
November 15, 2013 @ 09:47 AM | By Christina Todisco

WalkingDead

Imagine for a moment being transported into a survivalist, post-apocalyptic world similar to that of AMC’s horror drama series “The Walking Dead.” There’s only one twist to our side of this critically-acclaimed series – in our version, there is Internet connectivity.

Having said that, here are some tips that Rick Grimes and Co. could surely benefit from had they lived in this alternative, Internet-connected universe and, more importantly, if they were empowered by conferencing services:

Connect Multiple Locations Instantly

Whether you’re like Maggie and Glen and sleep in the guard tower or reside in cell block A, B or C, the entire community of people who call season four’s prison home could instantly connect, communicate and strategize without having to take one step outside via conference calls. As Hershel says, “You step outside, you risk your life.” There would be no need to risk your life if the whole gang could engage in pertinent zombie-related information from inside the well-protected facility.

Send Urgent Messages in Real-Time

In the show’s pilot episode, Rick leaves the mysterious Morgan behind, but before doing so he gives him a walkie-talkie and tells Morgan that he’ll turn it on once a day for a few minutes so that they can speak. Not only does Rick never hear from Morgan, but the quality is horrible (this goes for the system set up in the group’s original camp in season one, too). With conference calls, geographic disparity is no longer an issue and communication is made crystal clear. Who knows, if the gang had conferencing services, things might have ended up very differently for Morgan and his son.

Unite with Survivalists Worldwide

Perhaps the most grueling thing about The Walking Dead is the thought of how many other survivors exist in the world besides Rick and his crew. In a post-apocalyptic world, conferencing calls would come in handy to communicate with those overseas, as well as experts in the medical field. Jumping on a conference call would be a great way to overcome logistical barriers that could stand in the way.

As Carol says, “You either kill the dead, or die and kill the living.” Conferencing services would ensure that when zombies attack, anyone stuck in our post-apocalyptic world would become part of the former.

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.

Top Conference Tips from Game of Thrones
November 14, 2013 @ 03:27 PM | By Jill Huselton

Thrones

Winter is coming (at least, for those of us in the North, it is). Luckily, our winter season isn’t expected to be as long and painstaking as for those in HBO’s fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, where seasons are known to last decades.

These guys could really benefit from conference services as they fend off complicated plights and navigate through social hierarchy, loyalty, corruption and war to secure their spot on the throne. Here are some tips that those battling for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms could surely benefit from had they been empowered with a cutting-edge VoIP phone system:

Cut Down on Traveling: For business execs, this might mean a red-eye flight; however, for those battling for the throne, this can mean months – even years – of traveling. For instance, Daenerys Targaryen spends much of her plot traveling and conquering lands on a quest to reach Westeros. In a much less exciting plotline, Dany could have simply dialed into an audio conference session and tried to hash things out – then she could unleash her dragons. With conference services, you don’t even have to step outside of your office.

Send Urgent Messages in Real-time: One blast for Wildlings, two blasts for friends and foes and three blasts for White Walkers. Imagine the immense advantages conference services could have afforded Sam, Jon and the rest of the Knight’s Watch – those responsible for protecting the realm – when three blasts take them by surprise in season two. This would also mean no more messenger birds, which are used as the primary form of communication.

Improve Strategizing: Unlike the standard business meeting, almost every get together between those in Westeros involves a discussion of war and strategizing. The people they need, however, can’t always be there. Imagine how the Battle of the Blackwater would have played out had strategizing been improved by using online meetings to collaborate on either the Lannisters’ or Stannis Baratheon’s end.

As Littlefinger tells Lord Varys, “the climb is all there is.” Conference services could have helped make this climb a significantly easier one through the use of handy features like mobile communication and call visibility, operator assistants and call recording features.

We want to know: will you jump on a conference call to improve your chances of reigning the kingdom?

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.

InterCall and Blue Jeans Network Connect to Redefine Business Collaboration
November 13, 2013 @ 09:59 AM | By Dennis Collins

Diagram-BJ-IC
We are pleased to announce an exciting new offering for InterCall customers. We have worked with our partners at BlueJeans Network to deliver an integrated solution that makes it easy to add video conferencing and enhanced call controls to everyday InterCall Reservationless-Plus audio conferences. By merging audio and video, we have created a global collaboration platform that makes meetings easier to schedule, join and experience regardless of whether people connect from traditional phone lines, mobile devices or by video.

As Rob Bellmar, our senior vice president of conferencing and collaboration says, “People are interested in using video to improve collaboration, and they want a simpler way to connect. Integrating our Reservationless-Plus and the Blue Jeans services gives hosts a simple way to start meetings on-the-fly, while participants can easily click-to-join from anywhere on any device, and experience the high quality audio and video conferencing that they expect.”

Among the benefits of the new InterCall and Blue Jeans integration:

  • Simple scheduling with one tool for video and audio meetings
  • One common code, one meeting invitation and multiple ways to join
  • Additional in-meeting controls, such as a list of participants, active talkers and mute/un-mute capabilities
  • High-quality voice for both audio-only and video attendees

According to MIT Sloan Management Review, 75 percent of all businesses will use collaboration technology tools in 2013 and nearly 90 percent will employ them by 2015. Studies prove that face-to-face video helps people meaningfully connect, reducing hostility, fostering empathy and improving communication.

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Have you adopted video conferencing to improve collaboration? We want to know about your experiences below.

Dennis CollinsDennis Collins is the director of marketing for Conferencing and Collaboration at InterCall. In this role, he directs a team that provides strategic marketing support for product launches, external communications, competitive positioning and channel/sales communications. His career spans a wide range of communications, marketing and operations experiences including being a digital video pioneer as well as spending 13 years with technology PR firm as partner and COO. Entrepreneur does not escape the list; Dennis also started his own ad agency and founded an award-winning gourmet dessert café.

Don’t Go Bankrupt Hosting a Career Fair - Part Two
November 8, 2013 @ 02:34 PM | By Eric Vidal

Careerfair

In the second part of Don’t Go Bankrupt Hosting a Career Fair, we'll delve deeper into why more businesses today are finding that hosting an online event can a more favorable alternative to an in-person career event and, at a fraction of the cost.

Measure Behavior, Not Just Attendance

With so many people pouring into a recruiting event, it can be difficult to locate and track the best prospects. Unlike in-person job fairs, virtual recruiting environments have tracking capabilities that allow you to find out more about particular candidates, as well as their level of interest in working for you. When you have better insight as to who is interested in a position, you can easily check on their specifications and see if it is worth marketing your company towards them or not.

You can see every prospect’s behaviors during an event--how long they stayed, who they spoke with, what was said and what content they looked at.

And in a virtual job fair, once a candidate has registered, you can seek them out even if they don’t apply for a specific job.

What Can I Do With the Software After Hiring?

Once you find that great hire you are looking for, you will want to minimize time and resources in bringing them up to speed with your program. On top of wanting to maximize their production, you are also focused on their happiness. That is because new hires are quick to judge a company right from the start. In fact, 86 percent of new employees will make the decision to stay long term or move on during the first six months of their stay. Furthermore, 23 percent of employees will leave a job because there are insufficient development or training opportunities.

The great part about a virtual recruiting center is that its usage will extend beyond the hiring process and can be used throughout an employee’s lifecycle at a company. A virtual center allows an enterprise to onboard an employee in a seamless manner through various training programs, decreasing the time it takes to integrate important corporate policies and procedures. Employees will be able to engage in virtual question and answer sessions with HR staff and access on demand content to best prepare them for their new working environment.

Virtual HR Solutions: the Recruiting Wave of the Future

While virtual job fairs are currently an up and coming HR solution, research indicates that it is only a matter of time before virtual recruiting centers are widely accepted in the mainstream HR recruiting process and become a standard part of the hiring process. As Chris Kern, Publisher of “HR Recruiting Scope” explains, this type of solution is quickly growing in popularity among HR recruiters.

“Virtual recruiting fairs are on the rise and will continue to grow inside the HR community. In 2013 we conducted research where 32 percent of HR managers and recruiters stated that they participated in or managed a virtual career event in the past year. We ran a similar survey approximately one year earlier and that number was only 18 percent.”

A virtual HR recruiting solution allows companies to leverage the benefits of a career fair without having to spend massive amounts of time and resources in the process.

Eric Vidal Eric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

Don’t Go Bankrupt Hosting a Career Fair - Part One
November 7, 2013 @ 09:55 AM | By Eric Vidal

Blog_network

So, your organization wants to host a career fair. The question is: will your company still want to after adding up the costs to fund the facility, insurance, security, refreshments, and recruiters’ travel and lodging?

The reality is that if a company wants to host an on-site job fair, it is going to cost a lot of money. In fact, a typical recruiting event for a group of 1,000 attendees averages $20,000 to $30,000. Since most companies are not a bottomless pit with an endless amount of resources, this is simply not the most efficient solution for hiring new talent. As a result, companies are looking for alternative methods of finding potential employees.

Many businesses find hosting an online event to be a favorable alternative that provides all of the features (and more) that an in-person career event can offer, at a fraction of the cost.

The Value of Virtual Recruiting

A virtual job fair or recruiting center provides your organization with the ability to meet thousands of potential hires in one digital environment. Moreover, these digital events ensure that potential employees gain insight into your company by enjoying more than just a welcome screen and a job application. Instead, they can chat in real-time with company representatives, supplement their resume with additional documents to help recruiters evaluate their applications and sit in on valuable informational sessions. Simply put, a virtual recruiting center is a way of promoting your company to those who want to work with your business.

In terms of financial value, a virtual HR solution can save your company a considerable amount of money. The hiring process, after all, is not cheap. In fact, it will cost an average of $3,479 to hire a new employee, says The Talent Acquisition Factbook. Approximately 33 percent of this number is spent on search agencies and job boards alone. According to the job board Dice, firms on average receive 144 applications for entry level or hourly job postings. Each professional position receives an average of 89 applications.  All of these applications drive up the time, and the cost, of the recruiting process. When travel arrangements, the salary of the recruiting team and necessary advertising all contribute to this figure, the price of hiring can skyrocket. But when you establish a virtual recruiting center, this figure is reduced. Companies can re-allocate the money that would otherwise be spent searching for employees.

When factoring in the ROI of virtual recruiting solutions, the greatest financial impact occurs when virtual recruiting is wholly integrated into a company’s hiring plan because it facilitates economies of scale. As the number of recruits increases, the cost per hire shrinks. While some aspects of the recruiting process must take place whether a candidate is recruited virtually or using traditional methods, a virtual career fair can still help companies save a lot of money in the process.

Aside from saving money, virtual recruiting allows a company to expand the reach of its employee search to find the best candidates possible. According to Kellye Whitney, Managing Editor of Talent Management Magazine, this means employers can find access to the best hires not just in their region, but around the world.

Virtual Career Fairs give instant access to candidates around the world, provide more engagement, targeted search, and tracking capabilities than in-person while providing a stronger ROI,” Whitney said.

By opening the doors of a company up virtually, a business can extend its reach for new hires nationally or even globally. Instead of reaching applicants in the region, companies can reach across 130 countries—with the ability to support more than 25 languages during live or on-demand events. A virtual career fair can be open across multiple time zones so that nobody is left out.

In part two, we'll talk more about how virtual recruiting fairs are on the rise and continuing to grow inside the HR community.

Eric Vidal Eric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

Would LeBron James Want to Take His Talents to Your Company?
November 6, 2013 @ 09:33 AM | By Eric Vidal

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It’s no wonder why Fortune magazine has named Google the top company to work for in the world, for the fourth time. With a sports complex spanning seven acres, swirly slides that shuttle employees between office levels and the choice of beer-braised ribs or gourmet cod for lunch, the rewards of working for this tech giant make it the crown jewel for top job recruits today.

Sure you might not be able to compete with Google when it comes to incentives. But the bigger question is whether you can stand up against your actual competitors and whether you are doing a good job of attracting the top talent. Chances are, if your company does not market itself successfully, the best candidates won’t think so. And, even if you have the goods employees are looking for, they will pass your organization by during their job search.

By properly marketing yourself to employees and showing them exactly what your company can offer them, your organization will stand a much better chance of finding someone who is the ideal fit for a position, as well as someone who is looking to stick around for the long haul.

Here’s why investing a small amount of time and resources while you search for the right employees is well worth it for corporations of all sizes:

The Best Employees Want the Top Employers

Think of LeBron James’s attitude a few years ago when he announced to the world that he was “bringing his talents to South Beach.” LeBron’s message to the Cavaliers was quite clear: he was over Cleveland. Miami made him an offer he could not refuse, and he took it.

As an employer, you never want to be Cleveland in this situation. If you are trying to court an employee with LeBron’s potential, you need to put some effort into making him or her want to be a part of your organization. The key to ensuring this is through transparency. Top prospects today want to see references, referrals and corporate blogs, right there on your website. They need access to resources that prove your company is an industry leader—and they need to speak with company higher ups during the interview process. When a company assumes the attitude that it is up to applicants to find out information about the company, the most innovative new recruits can get lost in the shuffle.

Losing Top Applicants Will Hurt Your Company

These days, employers everywhere are searching far and wide for those who can provide quality ideas. Many times, however, those capable of providing these ideas come knocking on the door—only to fly under the radar during the recruitment process. There is nothing worse than losing a great new potential hire before he or she ever comes in for an interview.

For this reason, a company needs to pay close attention to their recruitment process. The hiring process should be one of the most important internal procedures for an enterprise and it should take appropriate consideration for each and every applicant. Failing to reach out to the best prospects will only hurt your organization. As a result, your competition will be waiting to pick these people up and put them to work.

It Costs a Lot to Hire the Wrong Employee

Ultimately, the bottom line of any employee is the ROI he or she will provide for your organization. If a person quits only a few months after being hired—or you are forced to let the individual go—your organization stands the chance of losing thousands of dollars trying to compensate for this individual. In fact, the average cost for replacing an employee is typically 20 percent of the worker’s salary, according to MoneyWatch. Additionally, you will have to go back to the drawing board and re-hire. This is not a process you want to make a habit in your enterprise.

Take the time to get to know an employee before extending an offer letter. Think of your office as a big family, and try to picture how they will get along with everyone else on the team. Doing so up front will save you a lot of time and energy down the road.

How a Virtual Recruiting Solution Helps

One solution that many companies use to get to know employees better during the hiring process—and to save a lot of money in the process—is to host a virtual career fair or recruiting center. Virtual recruiting provides your organization with the ability to meet thousands of potential hires in one digital environment. Moreover, these digital events ensure that potential employers gain insight into your company by enjoying more than just a welcome screen and a job application. Instead, they will be able to chat in real-time with company executives, pass their resume along and sit in on valuable informational sessions. Simply put, virtual recruiting is a way of promoting your company to those who want to work with your business.

For more information on how your company can leverage virtual solutions during the hiring process, please click here.

Eric Vidal Eric Vidal is a Director of Product Marketing at InterCall and is considered a leading voice and expert in virtual business, which expands from marketing to collaboration to learning. He has more than 15 years experience in developing, implementing and optimizing strategies in these areas for numerous organizations and Global 2000 companies. As the director of product marketing for InterCall’s event services, Eric manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. Previously from WebEx, Eric managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media. Over the last several years, Eric has held management positions at Cisco, WebEx, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia.

How Farmers are Innovating with Conference Calls
November 5, 2013 @ 02:15 PM | By Sarah Murphy

Farm

Technology and farm equipment go hand-in-hand. As new technology develops, old processes become streamlined and optimized, paving the way for increased productivity and efficiency. One of these changing processes is communication.

There is a new type of technology that is making its way onto the farm right alongside heavy equipment, water purification and advanced irrigation systems—conference calls.

Conference calls are being used to keep farmers in touch with the government, with each other and with managers who are responsible for looking after multiple fields of crops over different locations.

Here's how Conference Calls can Benefit the Farm Community

Let's take a look at a few ways that farmers can take advantage of new technologies and advanced collaboration techniques to enhance productivity and stream line processes.

Hold Meetings to Ensure Compliance Across Multiple Farms

Now more than ever, farmers need to stay up to date on the latest laws and restrictions surrounding FDA and local compliance issues. Currently, the FDA is in the process of updating its Food Safety Modernization Act to overhaul agricultural procedures related to runoff, livestock placement and pesticide usage. As regulations change, farmers will have to stay in touch with one another in order to ensure compliance.

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For farm managers who oversee operations from a distance, this is much easier said than done. Adhering to strict regulations is especially important, but also very hard to do without real time communication. By holding an audio conference call, a farm manager located in New York could stay in touch with farms all across the country. In fact, any number of employees could gather at once on a call to discuss important issues.

Increase Supply Chain Visibility via Open Communication with Buyers

As the FDA updates the Food Safety Modernization Act, many businesses will have questions about the origins of the products that they purchase. Business leaders will want to know where food is grown and how. For farms that identify themselves as organic, this is especially important. Conference calls offer unparalleled opportunities for business executives to come together and discuss issues related to growing and purchasing.

For important meetings between business leaders, conference calls can be enhanced with online meetings for the purpose of exchanging important documents.

A grocery store located out of Maryland, for instance, will need to see proof of both state and federal regulation compliance before purchasing produce from a farm in Texas. Additionally, contracts must be worked out and signed. These documents can be edited over the same digital interface for easy and secure collaboration.

From on-demand conferences to advanced mobile capabilities, InterCall collaboration services provide all of the tools that farm managers need to stay in touch with one another. Its solutions make it possible to see who is on a call at all times, as well as who is speaking. Additionally, small breakout rooms can be established for the purpose of engaging in meetings within meetings.

Tell us: how is your farm benefiting from conferencing services?

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.

Sometimes it Takes a Conference Call to Raise a Village
November 5, 2013 @ 10:55 AM | By Christina Todisco

Work-life-balance

When was the last time you gathered for a constructive meeting with your local neighbors and townspeople? It’s so easy to become embroiled in your day-to-day office operations that you forget there is a whole world—and community—operating around you. From your Home Owners Association to your kids’ Board of Education meeting to the town Recycling Committee, it can be awfully hard to balance a full work load with your community responsibilities.

These organizations depend on community support to function, though. Without support from the community, it is almost impossible to engage in productive meetings and tackle issues that directly affect constituents. Solutions are needed to bring people together in this fast-paced, hectic world.

One solution that many communities are now starting involves offering conference calls to bring citizens closer together. Conference calls provide a platform where people can listen in to important meetings from wherever they may be—from the office to the gym to the supermarket. Conference calls facilitate a healthy balance between community and personal responsibilities.

Aside from becoming an integral part of communities for day-to-day functioning, conference calls provide a way to always make sure a meeting can take place. For example, as the majority of the country prepares for winter, conference calls can offer an enticing solution for ensuring that meetings take place during inclement weather. When the snow starts to pour in at 8 PM on a Wednesday, for instance, there will be no need to cancel the meeting due to driving hazards and possible low attendance. Instead, constituents can call in directly from their mobile device from wherever they are. With the help of operator assistants, hundreds of people can gather at once which allows for an easy, organized experience.

We want to know how your community has benefited from the use of conference calls. Please tell us about your experiences in the comments section below!

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.

Conference Villains: the Conference Hog
November 1, 2013 @ 01:35 PM | By Dennis Collins

Hog

Think of a time when there was a really good conversation that led to a productive conference call. Usually, there is an ebb and flow of words and sentence breaks, and everyone gets an opportunity to speak. A conference hog, however, hates that everyone takes turns—and will do everything in his or her power to break the flow and make certain he or she is the only one talking.

When this type of caller gets going, it can be all but impossible to stop the ensuing rant. As a result, a conference call can feel more like a game of red light-green light as you struggle to get a word in edgewise. This type of behavior can also drag a call on for much longer than anticipated which can be tremendously unproductive.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to control this type of caller, short from having a strong moderator who is unafraid to slam a gavel down, call for order and move on to a more pressing issue when needed. Moderators can be useful for creating an agenda, sharing it beforehand and assigning time limits for each topic to eliminate potential issues related to time.

For the sake of maintaining client relations, however, strong arming a client into being quiet is typically frowned upon. Interrupting can be rude, meaning it’s sometimes best to let a person rant and follow up with important points in an email after the call.

On the other hand, have you ever been in a situation where you’ve purposely been the “out of control train” on a conference call? Can this strategy actually work sometimes in order to make a point?

Dennis CollinsDennis Collins is the director of marketing for Conferencing and Collaboration at InterCall. In this role, he directs a team that provides strategic marketing support for product launches, external communications, competitive positioning and channel/sales communications. His career spans a wide range of communications, marketing and operations experiences including being a digital video pioneer as well as spending 13 years with technology PR firm as partner and COO. Entrepreneur does not escape the list; Dennis also started his own ad agency and founded an award-winning gourmet dessert café.

Just the Fax
November 1, 2013 @ 09:25 AM | By Marcus Schmidt

Just_a_fax

I admit it. I’m not much of a fax person. I think the last time I had to fax something was for a personal real estate transaction that required a signed form. So you can understand my surprise when I found out there are 46.3 million fax machines in the world and almost 17 billion faxes get sent each year.

The more I considered all this, it became clear that faxes are an important part of businesses, especially in specific industries like healthcare, financial services, and legal firms. Many local, state, and national governments are also still heavy fax users. But just because you use faxes doesn’t mean you have to use fax machines.

Faxes can and should be a part of your overall unified communications strategy. Including faxes and voice mail with your e-mail solution forms the foundation for unified messaging which is a key step towards unified communications. West IP Communications has offered both inbound and outbound fax solutions for years, and recently added a 64-bit version of our outbound fax solution called DirecFax. With this new release, you can easily start sending faxes straight from that state-of-the-art new PC with its super-fast 64-bit processor and operating system.

You can find out more about unified messaging here and can download the Outbound DirecFax installers here
 

Marcus SchmidtMarcus Schmidt is the director of product management at West IP Communications. In this role, he’s part of a team that charts the future direction of West IP Communications products as well as guides the go-to-market activities around our current offerings. Prior to joining West Corporation, Marcus held several roles in product management and marketing including over 12 years of experience at Microsoft Corporation. He has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. degree in Industrial Management from South Dakota State University. When he’s not thinking about the future of unified communications, he’s probably tuned into a sporting event, reading a new novel, researching a vacation destination, or playing with some new technology gadget.

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