3 Key Takeaways from Kaltura Connect 2014
July 15, 2014 @ 08:06 AM | By Eric Vidal

Last month, InterCall’s senior product manager, Dan Carroll, headed to New York City to join video technology experts and developers at the video experience conference Kaltura Connect. It was a jam-packed three days with lots of interesting sessions and content that left some lasting impressions.

Kaltura Connect Video Conferencing

Continue reading "3 Key Takeaways from Kaltura Connect 2014" »

FIFA World Cup Online Streaming Breaks Viewership Record
July 7, 2014 @ 12:53 PM | By Eric Vidal

People are still talking about the U.S.’s exciting—albeit disappointing—World Cup run, and the focus has mainly been on goalkeeper Tim Howard’s record-setting 16-save performance against Belgium last Tuesday afternoon. But did you know that another record was quietly broken in the tournament’s U.S. game against Germany? If not, you might be surprised to learn that it didn’t actually occur on the field.

Continue reading "FIFA World Cup Online Streaming Breaks Viewership Record" »

Cookouts, cold beer and fireworks—what’s not to love about Independence Day? If you’re one of the scores of Americans lamenting the fact that Independence Day only comes once a year, take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to stop celebrating your independence on July 5th.

Continue reading "Thanks to Today’s Conferencing and Collaboration Tools Every Day Is Independence Day" »

Want to Enhance Your Practice? Add Video Conferencing – Stat!
June 25, 2014 @ 12:26 PM | By Jill Huselton

You’re responsible for running a successful healthcare practice? Good luck. Between sweeping industry changes and the constant pressure to remain profitable, it’s easy to forget that patient care is your practice’s primary focus.

Add Video Conferencing to Enhance Your Practice

Continue reading "Want to Enhance Your Practice? Add Video Conferencing – Stat!" »

4 Lessons From Dad That Help During Conference Calls
June 17, 2014 @ 02:40 PM | By Jill Huselton

With this past weekend being Father’s Day, it got me thinking a lot about my dad and everything he taught me. While I didn’t always appreciate his life lessons at the time, now, I’m grateful for them. I’ve found that many of them translate well over to the business world, and even conference calls, where it seems I spend a majority of my time.

Lessons for Better Collaboration On a Conference Call

Continue reading "4 Lessons From Dad That Help During Conference Calls" »

4 Metrics Every Virtual Event Planner Needs to Know
June 13, 2014 @ 12:18 PM | By Eric Vidal

An important part of accurately measuring the success of any virtual event is looking beyond the basic metrics. A common misconception is that event attendance alone determines whether or not your event was successful. While attendance is indeed a useful piece of data, there are many other aspects of a virtual event you should also measure and analyze. This will help ensure that the participants not only showed up, but engaged with your brand and left with a positive experience.

Virtual Event Metrics

With that in mind, here are four metrics to keep track of at your virtual event:

Continue reading "4 Metrics Every Virtual Event Planner Needs to Know" »

Join InterCall at Kaltura Connect and get 50% off!
June 2, 2014 @ 02:34 PM | By Eric Vidal

Do you want to do more with your WebEx recordings?  Check out InterCall CorporateTube at Kaltura Connect 2014! InterCall is proud to sponsor The Video Experience Conference and to offer you 50% off with this code: Partner-InterCall2014.

InterCall at Kaltura Connect

Continue reading "Join InterCall at Kaltura Connect and get 50% off!" »

Unified Communication as a Step Toward Lean Operations
May 30, 2014 @ 11:04 AM | By Bob Wise

The emergence of Unified Communications (the integration of multiple modes of voice, video, web, and text-based communications) has fundamentally altered the employee productivity landscape. The amount of benefit an organization realizes through the deployment of UC, however, varies widely.

Companies that have fully leveraged the potential of UC solutions have approached the deployment with a frame of mind as though they were implementing another dimension of a lean operations system.

Continue reading "Unified Communication as a Step Toward Lean Operations" »

Web conferencing has reached a new level of sophistication that almost parallels an in-person meeting.   Adobe® Connect™ integrated with InterCall’s world-leading audio conferencing provides an extraordinary, feature-rich online meeting experience unprecedented in today’s market.  So what can you do with Adobe Connect integrated with InterCall audio that is so unique?

Video conference like you’ve never seen it

You can share an unlimited number of webcam video streams at DVD quality with active speaker indication, for true face-to-face collaboration with all participants.  You can bring a single speaker into focus or enable a grid mode to view all streams at the same time. 

Adobe Connect Online Meetings Integrates with InterCall Audio Conferencing

 

Continue reading "Adobe Connect with InterCall Audio: Raising the Bar on Collaboration" »

How to Utilize Video to Modernize Your Company's Outreach
May 22, 2014 @ 02:06 PM | By Eric Vidal

Stop and think about that amazing feeling you get when you watch a riveting video online. You want to spring to action and share the clip with others. When a video ignites action in a viewer, its value increases tenfold—and if done properly, it will go viral and be seen by millions.

So why is it that so many corporations still fail to maximize their use of video across the enterprise? It’s all too common to see long-winded interviews with executives or product overviews that explain very little and take up a great deal of a viewer’s time without actually delivering any value.

Continue reading "How to Utilize Video to Modernize Your Company's Outreach" »

Successful Collaboration Requires More Than Cool Tools
May 20, 2014 @ 02:25 PM | By Jill Huselton

Collaboration is a hot topic in the modern workplace. Why? Because businesses of all shapes and sizes are realizing they can accomplish more when their employees work together than they can when workers brainstorm, plan and create in isolation.

Over the past decade, myriad tools and technologies have sprung up to facilitate collaboration. At InterCall, we specialize in helping businesses improve collaboration through conferencing and unified communications solutions and services. And we know that tools and technologies by themselves are not enough to maximize collaboration in your workplace.

Collaboration Beyond Tools
You can improve collaboration and communication when you include all of the right ingredients of collaborative technology.

Continue reading "Successful Collaboration Requires More Than Cool Tools" »

4 Tips for Extending the Conversation After Your Event
May 13, 2014 @ 11:36 AM | By Eric Vidal

Trade shows and sales meetings tend to have a short shelf life. There is a lot of work and effort that goes into the build-up but once the event is over, it often gets pushed to the back of attendees’ minds—even if they are willing and ready to continue the conversation. This often occurs because event planners make the mistake of excluding post-event communication from their strategy. It’s a pity this is overlooked because post-event communication is an excellent opportunity to extend the positive experience that occurred during the event.

Continue reading "4 Tips for Extending the Conversation After Your Event" »

Another Cisco Partner Summit is in the books, and there were many interesting items that came out of it.

The big news that had everyone talking was Cisco InterCloud, a network of clouds that could potentially reshape the industry. How it will all play out remains to be seen, in terms of enterprise collaboration and the much talked about “internet of everything,” but Cisco’s betting big with a $1B investment.

You can learn more about InterCloud, the internet of everything and the Cisco Partner Summit by checking out some presentations on SlideShare and reading the Cisco blog coverage.

West Comes Away with More Cisco Partner Awards in 2014

West was honored to accept these awards from Cisco:

  • Architectural Excellence, Collaboration – US/Canada
  • Architectural Excellence, Collaboration – US/Canada:  Central
  • Cloud Partner of the Year – US/Canada: West

Continue reading "West Named Cisco Cloud Partner of the Year – 2 Years Running!" »

4 Conferencing Trends Revealed at Enterprise Connect 2014
April 29, 2014 @ 08:13 AM | By InterCall Blog

In early March, InterCall and West Corporation teams headed down to Orlando, Florida to join IT, telecom and networking professionals at Enterprise Connect, the leading expo and conference on enterprise communications and collaboration. While a slew of new products were unveiled and a wide variety of industry trends were discussed, a few stuck out more than others.

 

Enterprise Connect 2014

Continue reading "4 Conferencing Trends Revealed at Enterprise Connect 2014" »

When It Comes to Being Green, You Can Talk the Walk
April 25, 2014 @ 09:29 AM | By Jill Huselton

With conferencing, there’s no better way to show your support for Earth Day.

On April 22, people from more than 192 countries celebrated Earth Day, the annual event that raises awareness about environmental issues, encourages conservation and promotes global peace.

At InterCall, we’re big fans of Earth Day every day. But more importantly, we’re fans of doing whatever we can to encourage environmentally friendly behaviors all year long. For us, green practices aren’t just items on our to-do list—they’re an important part of our responsibility to help preserve the planet for future generations.

The key message of Earth Day is sustainability. And in a lot of ways, InterCall’s business revolves around helping individuals and businesses tap into a more eco-friendly way of life. With the right conferencing solutions, it’s possible to substantially improve the quality of business communications and support being green at the same time.

Green Meetings
Celebrating our Earth every day is the InterCall way!

Continue reading "When It Comes to Being Green, You Can Talk the Walk" »

Conference Call Global Minutes - Examining the 2013 Data
April 24, 2014 @ 02:15 PM | By Dennis Collins

There hasn’t been a bigger force changing businesses in the last 10 years than globalization. To make the most of that level of globalization, firms around the world have to work together. From Shanghai to Cape Town, companies must be able to connect with each other.

That fact in turn has driven demand for more sophisticated conferencing and collaboration tools.  We were curious if conferencing usage would identify any trends or even reinforce notions about regional and cultural nuances in the global economy. So InterCall reviewed and analyzed more than 20 billion conferencing minutes across 197 countries in 2013 to see what the data could tell us about international work habits.

We accumulated all the data in an infographic which is broken down below.
Click here to see the full infographic.

Here’s what we found:

October Is the Busiest Conferencing Month on Earth

Three busiest conferencing months of 2103.View and embed full infographic here.

Continue reading "Conference Call Global Minutes - Examining the 2013 Data" »

The 5 Things Taxes and Video Conferences Have in Common
April 15, 2014 @ 10:29 AM | By Jill Huselton

April 15th looms large in the minds of U.S. taxpayers. Even though it arrives on the same day each year, Tax Day sends many people into full-blown panic mode—especially if they have waited until the last minute to file their returns.

Video conferences can make people feel that way, too. The proverbial “shoebox full of receipts” is to the last minute tax payer, what a quickly approaching conference date is to an event host. Regardless of how much planning you have done, the video-conference host often asks him or herself: will my event fall flat?

5 Things Taxes and Video Conferences Have in Common

We’ve heard both of these scenarios many, many times. Therefore, we couldn’t help but draw a parallel between taxes and video-conferences. They have more in common than one might think:

Continue reading "The 5 Things Taxes and Video Conferences Have in Common " »

Top 3 Dos and Don'ts of Conference Calling
April 10, 2014 @ 12:30 PM | By Jill Huselton

When it comes to conference calls, small talk can feel like a pointless exercise that doesn’t contribute anything to the topic at hand. But small talk is important because it lays the foundation for the rest of the call—and if you blow it, you can easily sabotage the objectives you hoped to achieve from the conference. 

Small Talk on Conference Calls

Why Small Talk Matters in Conference Calls

Time is a precious commodity and it’s natural for conference callers to want to immediately jump into meatier matters. But small talk has its place because it facilitates the exchange of basic information, builds rapport and gives call participants the opportunity to ease into the conversation.

Think of it this way: if the conference call is a house, small talk is the foyer. Everyone knows that the group will eventually end up in the dining room or living room, but there has to be an entryway—the space designed to transition guests into the main living area. It would be awkward to enter the house through a main room, even if the architecture allowed it.

Conference calls are constructed in a similar manner. Small talk opens the door to more substantive conversations. So like it or not, you’re going to have to learn how to talk small (and how to do it well) if you want to upgrade your conferencing skill set.

Dos and Don'ts of Conference Calls

In audio-only calls, the absence of physical cues and eye contact can make small talk even more challenging. With that in mind, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you convert small talk into a springboard for a successful conference. 

Do ….

1. Do ... Listen more than you talk in conference. 

People who monopolize small talk conversations are irritating. To avoid turning off other meeting participants, live by the general rule of listening more than you talk during this initial portion of conference calls.

2. Do ... Ask simple questions.

When it’s time to talk, consider asking general, non-business-related questions that build rapport and establish the backgrounds of others on the call. For example, by simply asking where the other participants are located you can stimulate a short conversation that uncovers valuable information about other callers.

3. Do ... Remember names of conference call participants.

It’s common for people to introduce themselves during small talk. Make an effort to remember everyone’s name and try to associate it with their voice to avoid embarrassment later in the conversation,. (Hint By using web conferencing services that integrate with the audio call, you can see who’s talking to help keep it all straight.)

Don’t ...

1. Don't ... Talk business at the begining of the conference call. 

Try to avoid jumping into business topics during small talk. There will be plenty of time for that later and by discussing business topics before everyone has joined the call, you can create confusion because some people won’t be up-to-speed—even if they joined the call on time.

2. Don't ... Gossip on conference calls. 

Gossip about competitors or other topics isn’t appropriate for small talk. Remember: your goal is to create a connection and establish a foundation for the rest of the call, not to trash other individuals or companies.

3. Don't ... Discuss politics, religion or sex in conference.

It’s just common sense that you should avoid controversial topics during small talk. If you’re going to offend other call participants, make sure it’s due to a legitimate business reason—not because you thought an off-color joke would make a great ice-breaker.

Finally, the rule of thumb for small talk is to make the conversation as inclusive as possible. If you choose to strike up a conversation about an exclusive experience you had with one or two other call participants, you will instantly alienate everyone else on the call and miss an opportunity to set an inclusive tone for the rest of your conference.

Tell us about your strategy for kicking-off a conference call. What topics for small talk have you found worked or failed?

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.

Free Conference Call Services - 5 Reasons they are NOT a Bargain
April 1, 2014 @ 09:15 AM | By Tonya Hottmann

Running a small business can be expensive and cutting corners is sometimes a necessity. So, free services can seem very appealing. When it comes to business critical applications, however, free generally means low quality and inconsistency which can leave a bad impression on your customers and hurt your profits. There are some crucial factors to weigh before selecting “free," especially with essential business communications.

You want to be able to control the message and how it is delivered. Free conference call providers don't offer this capability.

Free conference calls can be frustrating and unproductive.

 

With the future of your business on the line, you shouldn't take chances with an unreliable service. Here are the top five reasons free conference calls are NOT a bargain:

1. Free Conference Calls - What message are you sending?

Ever join a call where all you hear is crackling, humming or bad echoes? How about finding yourself asking others to repeat themselves quite frequently? It’s likely a free service that doesn’t provide professional quality technology, which is where free providers have cut corners.

The success of your business is on the line with every call you make. Because the point of a conference call is to communicate, it’s worthless if you can’t hear what others are saying. When you are on a call with a prospective investor or key client, do you really want to risk your reputation with unreliable service?

Bad reception equals bad perception.

2. Free conference calls are never really free.

“Free” conference calling services are based on toll numbers, not toll-free, so they are subject to long distance charges, taxes and other fees. Who pays those charges? Everyone on the call pays. Yes, even your customers during an important client meeting pay for the privilege of joining your call. Since these are U.S. based toll numbers, any international participants will be subject to exorbitantly high long distance charges.

“Free” conferencing services emanate from a loophole in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Rural areas have traditionally high infrastructure costs for wireless and phone carriers, so the carriers often team up with “Free” services and provide them access to their rural lines.

This method of “traffic pumping” helps them generate more volume to pass on to carriers as a fee. You may not know it, but the phone number you are dialing is in a remote area that will almost always be a long distance call for all participants. Plus the carriers can pass on these fees to all customers in higher rates. There are several court cases currently pending on the legality of this business model.

Do you really want your customers footing the bill?

3. No room for growth with free conferencing services.

As your business expands, so do your communication needs. Most “free” conference call services are geared to very, very small businesses with minimal calling needs. If you need to reliably share slides, have multiple numbers or require call security, a trusted, well-established service provider will offer the best solutions.

As your business grows and you add international customers or locations, a provider with a vast global footprint will be able to effectively and cost efficiently assist you with your communications needs.
Many organizations see substantial productivity improvements and cost-savings by integrating all their interactions into one unified communication solution, which combines both online and offline connections. Find a service provider that can handle multiple solutions, both on premises and cloud-based, which will offer the best variety.

As you plan for growth, find a communications provider that you can grow with you.

4. Good luck finding any extra conferencing services or features.

Full service conferencing providers offer additional features such as free mobile apps, easy calendar integration, detailed conferencing reports, sub-conferencing for breakout sessions, muting, disconnecting, on demand playback of recordings and much more. Before committing to a service, ask yourself questions such as:

  • How important is it that I can control the conversation?
  • Will I need to playback my calls later?
  • Do I need to host or join meetings from the road?
  • Will I need to quickly schedule and join meetings?
  • Will I ever want to have professional introductions with operator lead calls?

Think of the types of calls you will have in the future, any special requirements you’ll need and plan accordingly.

5. With free conference calls, connection isn't guaranteed.

“Free” conference call providers rely on the infrastructure of others, so there is no guarantee that your call will actually be connected.  Your conference information would be subject to outages, peak time and service availability.

Trusted providers not only own the infrastructure they operate, they operate at fractional capacity to ensure peak times are covered and service delivery is consistent.  They can also provide technical assistance and support as needed to ensure all your calls run smoothly.

What good is a call when it can’t be connected?

The Bottom Line – There’s no such thing as a free call.

While free can be appealing as a method to cut costs, it is important to decide where saving a few pennies actually impacts your business.  Conference calling services account for less than 4% of the total cost of a meeting. 

An estimated 5 million labor hours are spent per year in meetings.  How productive can your meetings be when you have to ask people to repeat themselves, rejoin dropped calls or hunt for conference codes?  

Free conference calling services don’t provide the level of professionalism, advanced services or room for growth that experienced providers do.  Communication is the most vital element of your business and central to any type of transaction.  

If you can’t be there in person, you need a professional alternative that reinforces your business value. Spend management is essential for all businesses, but the lowest cost isn’t always the best value. After all, would you really want brain surgery performed by the cheapest surgeon? The same holds true with communication providers.

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for eCommerce and small business. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. She has worked in the digital and technology marketing sector since 1997, growing start-ups and launching eCommerce solutions. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sports and traveling.

Conference Call Preparation Check List
March 27, 2014 @ 01:09 PM | By Christina Todisco

Any significant endeavor or operation can benefit from a checklist—especially conference calls. If CEOs, busy parents, and even Santa Claus uses them, there's got to be some benefit to using a checklist, right? What better way to make sure you turn the heat down before leaving for vacation, pick up those eggs at the supermarket or change that word at the end of the meeting brief you wrote yesterday?

Before you pick up that phone and hop on your next conference call, make sure to run down yours. If you don’t have one yet, borrow from ours:

 

Conference Call Checklist
Prepare for your conference call with the InterCall checklist.

 

Prepare for the conference call:

  1. Have I emailed invitations to the call?
  2. Do the invitations include the correct time and date for the call?
  3. Do the invitations have all the necessary pass codes and dial-in numbers or better yet, a link to the conference so the system dials to the participants?
  4. Have I reserved a quiet location where distractions will be minimal to nonexistent?

The meat of your meeting:

  1. Have I created an agenda for the call?
  2. If the call will include a guest speaker, have I set aside adequate time?
  3. Have I decided on a format?
  4. Do I have a clear goal in mind for this call?
  5. Have I collected and organized my notes?
  6. Do I have all the participants’ names?
  7. Have I provided the participants with any materials they might need?
  8. Does each participant know his or her role (secretary, moderator, etc.)?

The technicalities:

  1. Am I familiar with how to record the call for future reference?
  2. Have I done a practice run to ensure the sound is of high quality?
  3. Do I know how to reach technical support if something comes up?
  4. If the meeting involves a web conference, has everyone sharing documents downloaded the software?

Tell us, do you have a meeting checklist that has helped you?

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.

2014 Big Ten Tournament Recap - Live Tweets and Great Games
March 18, 2014 @ 08:23 AM | By InterCall Blog

As part of our partnership with the Big Ten Conference, InterCall live tweeted the 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament and hosted a VIP event for clients and friends. Here's how it went:

As a result of InterCall's Big Ten Tournament VIP event, our partnership with the Big Ten Conference and live Tweeting of the games, we were able to:

  • Connect with 36 invited guests from 13 companies at the VIP event.
  • Gain brand exposure via ad placement in Bankers Life Fieldhouse (111,592 total attendance. TV viewership in millions).
  • Add 138 Tweets, 25 mentions on Twitter, 89 re-Tweets and 23 new Twitter followers.

Here is a picture taken at the VIP event at Pearl Street Grill in Indianapolis.

InterCall hosts VIP event at Big Ten Tournament

Live Tweeting the Big Ten Tourney Games

Before I get started about the live Tweeting, allow me to introduce myself - I'm Mike Mardis. Because I am an avid sports fan and social media junkie, I was sent by InterCall (full disclosure - by whom I am employed) to live Tweet the Big Ten Tournament.

This is me on the first day of the tournament entering Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

InterCall arrives at the Big Ten Tournament

Day One - Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Northwestern Advance

Day one saw Indiana University fall to the University of Illinois in the first game of the tournament by a score of 64-54. The game was closer than the final score indicates. The Hoosiers were only down one point with 2:00 to go in the game. But, the Illini hit a few shots while IU went cold.

IU falls to Illinois in the Big Ten Tourney opener.

Game two came down to the wire as the Ohio State Buckeyes squeaked out a victory over the Purdue Boilermakers by a score of 63-61. The Buckeye faithful were loud (as they always are) and it was an exciting game - a sign of things to come.

BTT3


The next game saw the Minessota Golden Gophers advance past the Penn State Nittany Lions with ease.

Up until this point, there were no real surprises in the Big Ten Tournament. But, that was about to change as Chicago's own Northwestern Wildcats took down the Iowa Hawkeyes 67-62.

BTT4

Day Two - Top 4 seeds in action. Spartans flex thier muscles.

Day two of the tournament started off with another great game that came down to the wire, The number one seeded Michigan Wolverines made their tournament debut and nearly made a quick exit at the hands of the Illini. Illinois had a shot at the buzzer to beat Michigan, but Tracy Abrams came up short and the Wolverines survived.

Michigan survives a scare from Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament.
Next up was we saw the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes grabbed another close victory (71-67) on the back of LaQuinton Ross who put up 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. It was the last exciting game of the day, however. 

The next two games saw the Wisconsin Badgers rout Minnesota and The Michigan State Spartans bullied Northwestern in the late game 67-51.

The Big Ten Tournament final four was set - Michigan v. Ohio State and Wisconsin v. Michigan State.

Day three - Michigan over Buckeyes. Spartans keep rolling.

Day three was the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament and Bankers Life Fieldhouse was electric. The first game featured one of the best rivalries in all of college sports - Michigan v. Ohio State.

Ohio State falls to Michigan in 2014 Big Ten Tourney.

Michigan pulled out to an early lead, but Ohio State battled back to eventually get within striking distance at the end of the game. In the end, it was free throws that killed the Buckeyes. Michigan pulled out the 72-69 win to advance to the final. 

Missed Free throws bring down the Buckeyes at the Big Ten Tourney.

In the second semi-final game the number two seed Badgers of Wisconsin took on the number three seed Spartans of Michigan State. It was a showdown of two of the best mascots in the Big Ten.

Michigan State Spartans take on the Wisconsin Badgers

The Spartans built a massive lead behind one of the best 20:00 of basketball a single team can play in the first half. Michigan State lead the Badgers 43-26 at halftime in what looked like a blowout.

But, as Badgers tend to do when cornered, Wisconsin fought back in the second half. Behind a 28-point performance by Frank Kominsky, Wisconsin cut the Spartan's lead to 7 at one point. But, they would never get any closer as Michigan State won comfortably 83-75. It was a complete team effort by the Spartans as six players finished the game with double digit scoring efforts.

Day four - Michigan State v. Michigan for the title.

The final day of the tournament saw an all-Michigan Big Ten Conference Tournament final. The one seed Michigan was set to take on in-state rivals and three seed Michigan State.

The crowd was intense and loud. It felt like March in NCAA basketball. Too bad the game wasn't much of a contest. Michigan had beaten the Spartans twice in the regular season. But, come tournament time Tom Izzo has his men ready to play.

It's difficult to beat any team three times in one year. But, it's nearly impossible to beat a team as good as Michigan State three times in one year. The Spartans dominated the game from tip to final buzzer. Michigan never made it interesting.

Michigan State took the 2014 Big Ten Conference Tournament title 69-55 over Michigan.

Michigan State Spartans 2014 Big Ten Tournament Champs

Leprechauns vs. B2B Marketers—More Alike Than Meets the Eye?
March 17, 2014 @ 11:30 AM | By Eric Vidal

At first glance, B2B marketers and leprechauns seem worlds apart. After all, leprechauns are known to inhabit the wooded and grassy hillsides of Ireland, while B2B marketers typically take to cubicles and office buildings throughout the world.

But as we prepare to turn the corner into spring and roll out the corned beef and cabbage, it’s worth asking the question: Do we have more in common with leprechauns than we think? Let’s take a look:

Leprechauns_vs_B2B_Marketers_Infographic

 

Sport of choice:

Leprechauns love games. B2B marketers are taking a page from their book to engage buyers. From websites to social media to online communities, marketers are using gamification to connect with and learn about target audiences. In fact, Gartner predicts 70 percent of the world’s largest companies will have used at least one gamified application by the end of 2014.

Biggest complaint:

Leprechauns hate getting caught and will grant you three wishes if you should catch one. B2B marketers hate “one & done.” Repurposing and extending ROI is a key strategy when it comes to content and events. An article can become a whitepaper, an infographic and a blog post. Instead of an in-person product showcase, webcasts and virtual events extend reach beyond four walls and a single day. They magically connect with audiences around the world and keep the conversation going.

Reward:

Everyone knows that leprechauns will steer you towards a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow—which is exactly what B2B marketers do, too. Targeted, content-driven strategies are the rainbow that guides many a business toward success.

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.

March is here - and with it comes the madness of the NCAA men's basketball post season. Join in the excitement with InterCall as we live Tweet from the 2014 Big Ten Conference Men's Basketball Tournament.

Building a strong partnership with the Big Ten Conference

For the second year in a row, InterCall and West are proud sponsors of the Big Ten Conference. And for the second year in a row, InterCall will be hosting an event at the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament.

 

InterCall is the proud conferencing partner of the Big Ten Conference

 

The tournament is in Indianapolis on March 13-16 at Bankers Life Fieldouse. InterCall will be hosting an event on Friday, March 14.

InterCall VIP Event at the 2014 Big Ten Tournament

We are excited to host a special event for VIPs during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament for the second year in a row. The InterCall representative at the event will by Dennis Collins. Dennis, a Director of Marketing at InterCall, hosted the event last year as well.

Here's what Mr. Collins had to say about InterCall's partnership with the Big Ten Conference.

Quotation_marksAs one of the premier collegiate organizations, The Big Ten knows about all conferences. So we are excited to be their official conferencing partner.  This arrangement transcends the tournament marketing activities to include connecting the coaches with reporters, alumni and fans through their weekly calls and other communications solutions that benefit the schools and the Conference."

InterCall will also be live Tweeting the Big Ten Basketball Tournament.

Twitter Handle:
@intercall

Hashtags:

  • #B1GTourney
  • #B1GInterCall
  • #B1GWest

InterCall to live tweet the 2014 Big Ten Tournament

Join the conversation and retweet our posts. We will be sure to engage all of our followers. It's not just the VIPs we want there with us, it all of our fans and followers.

Recap of InterCall at the 2013 Big Ten Tounrament

Last year the tournament was held at the United Center in Chicago. It was the first year of InterCall's relationship with the Big Ten Conference - and it was a slam dunk from the opening tip.

Last year's Big Ten Tournament set a tournament attendance record with a total attendance of 124,543 across the four-day event. That mark shattered the old record also set at the United Center of 109,769. All six sessions of the 2013 tournament were officially sold out. An average of almost 21,000 Big Ten fans packed the stadium for each session.

 

InterCall and the Big Ten draw huge crowds to the tournament.

We wouldn't even hint at the idea that InterCall helped set the attendance record. But, it's a pretty interesting coincidence, don't you think?

 

United Center during the 2013 Big Ten Basketball Tournament

 

We were very excited at InterCall to hear about the unbelievable attendance of the tournament. The Sunday final game was the highest viewed of any conference final.  In fact the Saturday semi-finals were equal in ratings to the final game from the next closest conference – so fans were watching.

And if that many people saw the games, then they also saw InterCall.

InterCall hosted a VIP event at the 2013 Tournament

At last year's Big Ten Tournament, we played host to selected VIP guests. We were pleased with the positive feedback we got from the event and the relationships we were able to foster.

InterCall and our VIPs began the formation of strategic and mutually beneficial relationships that live on today.

Here are some pictures form the 2013 event

Pictures from the InterCall VIP Big Ten event in 2013/

 

We are looking forward to another great Big Ten Tournament in 2014 and building our relationship with the Big Ten going forward.

844 - The New Toll-free Number
March 4, 2014 @ 08:23 AM | By Christina Todisco

Toll-free conferencing has become so popular over the years that they have run out of toll-free numbers. So, to keep up with demand, a new prefix has been announced for toll-free conferencing dial-in numbers. You probably recognize the 800, 888, 877, 866 and 855 prefixes. But now you'll start seeing numbers beginning with 844.

New toll-free conference call number prefix announced.

If you currently use audio conferencing services, you may have heard recently that the two national organizations that handle creating and distributing telephone numbers, SNS and SNAC, announced the release of toll-free phone numbers that begin with an 844 prefix. This is a direct result of a shortage of toll-free phone numbers that begin with 800, 888, 877, 866 and 855.

New Toll-free Number for Conference Calls
The announcement of toll-free phone numbers that begin with an 844 prefix are a direct result of a shortage of toll-free phone numbers.

You could be assigned a dial-in number that begins with 844 for your next conference because these are the only numbers available to InterCall for provisioning and distribution.

Since these numbers are relatively new, we’ve seen some participants experience dialing problems with them because either their corporate PBX or telecommunications provider has not been programmed to accept them as valid.

To ensure you and your participants don’t have any problems when dialing into conferences with toll-free numbers beginning with 844, please do the following:

  • Test the number prior to the conference to make sure you do not get an error.
  • Distribute the international toll number (begins with a U.S. area code) along with the 844 toll-free number so participants have another option to use.
  • Contact your company’s PBX administrator to determine if your system is programmed to validate the 844 prefix.
  • Work with your telecommunications department or directly with your carrier to confirm your carrier’s systems are up to date and will recognize 844 numbers.

New dial-in number. Same toll-free conferencing.

Remember, dial-in numbers beginning with 844 are toll-free numbers, just like a number that begins with 800. If you or anyone else who is trying to access your conference experiences problems with an 844 number, dialing the international toll number listed in your welcome or conference confirmation email is always an alternative.

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.

A Conference Call in Real Life - Solving the Problems in the Video
February 27, 2014 @ 02:39 PM | By Dennis Collins

Anyone who has spent time on a conference call can attest to the fact that there are a multitude of awkward situations that can arise and ruin the overall experience.

These situations were pointed out in a recent video that went viral on YouTube, “A Conference Call in Real Life.” If you haven’t seen the clip yet, just like the title suggests, it depicts what would happen if a typical conference call were to be acted out by a group of people sitting around a table.

 

 

 

The reason the video is so popular is because we all can associate with it; anyone who’s been on a conference call has probably experienced as least one of the scenarios depicted in the video. But with the right solutions, your conference calls don’t have to go this way.

Here is a look at some of the problems that are addressed during the video, and how you can make sure that they don’t happen to you:

1. Getting someone’s name wrong

The video starts when a woman chimes into a conference and the man at the table thinks it’s someone else. With the right conference call software, visibility features allow everyone to see who is in attendance over a mobile device or computer screen. That way, instead of asking who just joined, attendees can specifically greet each other by name.

2. Bored attendees

During the video, the camera shows the face of a woman who appears to be working hard on her laptop. But when the camera shows her screen, she is playing cards. Boredom, in other words, is a major problem during a conference call.

So why not try adding an online meeting component to keep attendees interested because they can see what you are talking about? This will keep everyone active and working together instead of drifting off into space and wasting valuable time.

3. Locked out attendees

One of the most awkward scenes  in the video involves a conferencer being locked out of the room, struggling to get back inside. Those in the meeting try and help out by yelling to put in access codes and PIN numbers, which disrupts the meeting.

With the help of a one-click solution, attendees in real life can jump directly from an email invitation to the meeting and avoid the hassles of not being able to enter a conference call.

Now your meetings will run like this instead...

 

Have you had any experiences similar to “A Conference Call in Real Life”? Please tell us in the comments section 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.

5 True Webcast Horror Stories
February 25, 2014 @ 12:19 PM | By Eric Vidal

A webcast is a video conference meant to drive user engagement and connect with target audiences. It is a fantastic way to convey information to large groups of people—particularly clients and colleagues—as quickly and efficiently as possible. Not only can webcasts add up to exponential savings (no more paying for plane tickets, hotel rooms, conference lunches, or venues), but their myriad of features can captivate an audience far better than your standard, lecture-style meeting.

Because they’re so simple, however, people sometimes forget that they are professional communication events and should be treated as such.

Webcasts can be launched as frequently and quickly as you need them without throwing the entire company (or departmental budgets) out of order.  When used incorrectly or hastily, however, even the best advancement can become a liability.


Here are the top five true webcast horror stories that really happened to me. Hopefully, you can learn from the terrible examples these professionals made.

1. Hit mute. We can still hear you on the webcast.

We’ve all heard urban legends about the top executive who took a break from a webcast in order to use the bathroom, but forgot to turn off his microphone. It’s scary enough to keep you up all night—or prevent you from excusing yourself when the need arrives.

Don't forget to log out or mute your line before doing something embarrassing.

This one may be the most embarrassing of the bunch. But, what makes it even worse is that it's so simple to avoid. It only takes an extra bit of caution. If you can’t remove your microphone when taking a break, train yourself to at least turn it off.

2. Making your pets a part of a professional webcast.

Dogs are great. Truly, they are. Man’s best friend and all. But if they had something insightful to add to your webcast, they probably would have made headlines by now.

Dogs and cats have no place on a professional webcast.

When choosing a place for your webcast, be mindful of distractions like barking dogs, ringing phones, and intrusive roommates. 

A famous author in the learning and development industry had some problems on a webinar that I was moderating. Her dog was barking pretty loud and I told her I would take a question from the audience in order to give her a second. Well, she forgot to mute her line and said some pretty colorful things to her dog before I could mute her.

The fan mail she received was not that pleasant.

3. The pompous abuse of webcast power.

There is a story circulating about a woman who drove by a police officer while webcasting in her car. When he pulled her over for using a handheld device illegally, she turned the camera toward him in an attempt to embarrass him. Yes, this is actually a true urban legend.

It's simple: don't be a jerk on a webcast.

The moral of the story? Well, aside from being mindful of your environment again, don’t let the power of webcasting go to your head.

Personal Hint: this was an ex-coworker of mine and that highway was the 880 in the Bay Area in California.

4. Careful who you talk about on a webcast.

This true webcasting horror story can get you in some serious trouble. 

Much like the executive who forgot to turn his microphone off during a bathroom break, there is the tale of the webcaster who mistakenly thought his microphone was muted during a webcast and began talking to other people about the attendees.

You better be sure you muted the webcast before you say that.

Not only is this embarrassing and highly unprofessional, it can cost clients, your reputation, and possibly your job.

5. Forgetting a webcast is still a professional meeting.

This is probably the most believable of the true webcasting stories. Because, who want to wear a suit at home?

Webcasting from home—or even on vacation—is a luxury we are lucky to have in the 21st century. Don’t take advantage of it by wearing something that would never be acceptable in the office.

You should still dress professionally for a webcast.

So put the bathrobe away and pull out a nice, collared shirt. If you’re sitting, perhaps you can get away with a pair of slippers. I have a few great examples here of things gone bad, but not sure this is the right vehicle for this. Ok, I will say too much skin was showed on a couple of occasions.

Can you share one that you have been a part of or maybe heard about?

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.

Get Free or Discounted Passes to Enterprise Connect 2014
February 21, 2014 @ 10:55 AM | By Dennis Collins

With over 60 conference sessions covering unified communications, cloud, SIP trunking, mobility, contact centers, social apps, security and video, keynotes from industry leaders and more than150 vendors represented, Enterprise Connect has become a major resource for IT decision makers. Which is why we will be in Orlando March 17-19, along with West Corporation, our parent company.

Enterprise Connect in Orlando FL

Attending Enterprise Connect in Orlando March 17-19?
Be sure and stop by our booth #119 to talk to our engineers about your UC deployment!


Get access to discounted full conference passes or free expo passes

Just visit the Enterprise Connect website to register and use our discount code: XYECE2074. While you’re there, you can stop by our booth #119 to talk to our engineers about your UC deployment.  

You can also learn more about our full suite of UC products and services:

  • Maxxis - bring your network together on one easy-to-use platform, backed by our world-class support
  • VoiceMaxx – give your admins unrivaled control and flexibility with our suite of cloud-based, on–demand services
  • VoiceMaxx CE – provide a highly flexible voice solution based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform
  • ControlMaxx – give administrators and agents the tools they need to ensure excellence in customer service with contact center functionality
  • MaxxSecure - put security in the cloud and protect your network from spam and viruses, unauthorized intrusions and inappropriate web content
  • IVR Solutions – choose from cloud-based and on-premise caller self-service options with one of the industry’s largest, most reliable, and secure providers
  • Proactive Notifications - send intelligent, interactive messages to hundreds, thousands or millions of end points anywhere in the world via voice, email, SMS text and social media
  • Unified Meeting® 5 - enhance the way you communicate by making meetings convenient and easy to manage with a complete web-based tool
  • Web Event Services – utilize an expert event services team to ensure your events are flawless

If you aren’t going to make it to Enterprise Connect this year, you should still take the opportunity to discuss your UC needs. Give us some information about yourself and one of our experts will be in touch soon.

Hope to see you in Orlando!

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.

InterCall Named 2013 Partner of the Year by BlueJeans Network
February 13, 2014 @ 12:38 PM | By Dennis Collins

Back in April of 2012 InterCall teamed up with the BlueJeans Network in the name of providing businesses with powerful video conferencing capabilities. Then in November of 2013 InterCall announced the rollout of Reservationless Plus Audio coupled with BlueJeans Video to solidify the partnership.

Then, lo and behold, BlueJeans Network presented InterCall with their 2013 Partner of the Year award for our commitment to industry leading, best-in-class collaboration solutions, technical excellence in integrating our platforms and strategically selling the BlueJeans value proposition across our customer base.

2013_Partner of the Year_Gray

We’re honored with the recognition, which underscores the importance integrated conferencing solutions have in business communications.

Video-centric Conferencing on the Rise

Combining InterCall’s Reservationless-Plus audio conferencing with BlueJeans’ cloud-based video conferencing has become a no-brainer for companies looking for a cost effective solution that is on-demand.

The synergy between InterCall and BlueJeans continues to meet the demands many workers have today of being able to meet face to face with no travel required, improve mobile access and boost productivity—all without the need to purchase expensive or specialized equipment.

The power of combining audio and video conferencing in one
Add the power of video to your audio meetings with the same simplicity as conducting audio-only conference calls

Whether connecting from traditional phone lines, though mobile devices or by video, the seamless integration of InterCall and Blue Jeans offers you one meeting solution. It’s that easy.

If you want to see how it works, try a 14-day free trial and enjoy:

  • Unlimited video audio minutes
  • Conference up to 25 participants
  • Use Microsoft Lync, Google Video Chat, room systems or simply a web browser to host your call

Have you tried incorporating video conferencing into your meetings? What do you think?

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.

Top 5 Reasons Small Businesses Need Quality Conferencing
February 6, 2014 @ 09:29 AM | By Tonya Hottmann

Are you a small business owner on the fence about using professional conferencing services? Before you throw your hands in the air and write off conference calling altogether, consider these five important benefits of conferencing to your business.

With the advancements and ready availability of technology and high-speed internet to small businesses in the United States, it is now easier that ever to put that "professional conference call" shine on your front facing small business.

Having a reliable, functional, and intuitive conferencing solution shows business partners and investors that you're serious about you ventures and expect the best.

Today's small-and medium-sized businesses taking advantage of conferencing services.

Here are five reasons why small businesses should take advantage of this great technology:

1. Conferencing gives you the ability to be in two places at once.

As a small business owner, you need the ability to leverage all possible points of contact in real time. Today's technology give you the perfect platform through which you can keep all lines of business in contact seamlessly.

Today’s conferencing services allow you to be in Hong Kong, New York and Napa Valley all at the same time. You can interact with people from all over the world while accessing important documents and collaborating as if you’re all sitting at the same computer.

2. When life gets in the way, your conference can continue.

Stuck in traffic? Running late? Just found out that your quarterly meeting falls on the same afternoon as your daughter’s game?

Unlike in Corporate America, when real life gets in the way of work, small business owners can'yt just call off and rest assured the day's work will be handled. Nope - when you miss a day, the company falls a day behind.

Thanks to mobile conferencing, your cell phone can have all the features of your office land line. Not only can you see who is on the call and where they are checking in from—you can even engage in breakout sessions should the need arise.

3. Conferencing grows your business by growing your professional network.

Did you know that 77 percent of professionals, given the opportunity, will establish at least one new LinkedIn connection after an online meeting?

It's not lost on the entrepreneur that every interaction is an opportunity to expand your personal network—and conferencing allows you to connect with colleagues from around the globe in a virtual face-to-face environment. 

4. Add a personal touch and be available to clients.

As mentioned before, today’s conferencing services allow you to conference anytime, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean clients of a Fortune 500 company will have 24/7 access to the CEO. More likely, they’re working with their sales representative or customer service agent when the need arises.

Smaller companies, on the other hand, have greater ability to provide that personal touch at higher levels. With an integrated conferencing service, you can pop in on a call with a client and finish off a crucial sale or reassure them of your concern. This personal touch from the owner of the company can make all the difference.

5. Create opportunities to increase company visibility.

A full conferencing solution can give small businesses the opportunity to hold online meetings and events that will help their brand and increase their visibility. 

In November 2013, President Barack Obama spoke with and answered questions from thousands of Americans at one time, via an online conference call.

If this technology can magnify visibility for the President of the United States and give the impression of increased transparency, just imagine what it can do for your company.

Do you use conferencing to enhance your small business? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below. 

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for eCommerce and small business. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. She has worked in the digital and technology marketing sector since 1997, growing start-ups and launching eCommerce solutions. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sports and traveling.

5 Keys to Web Conference Interviews in 2014
February 3, 2014 @ 09:01 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Virtual interviews can be tricky. Just follow these rules for success.

These days, many companies have begun conducting interviews via online meetings rather than inviting candidates to travel to their offices in person. This saves time and money on both sides—allowing potential employees to remain at home (and not take time off from their current jobs) and saving employers from paying for trips with candidates who end up not being a good fit.

By recording a mock interview, you can make necessary adjustments before it’s too late.

Here are some tips you can practice before your live interview via a web conference:

1. Web interview eye contact

Just like in real life, eye contact is important on a web interview. So while it may be tempting to check yourself out on the screen every few seconds (Is my head tilting to the side? Is there something in my teeth? Does my smile look genuine?).

Make sure to keep your focus directed toward the camera.

2. Interview first impressions count - Mind your background

When you are interviewing for a job, the last thing you want your would-be boss to see is the pile of dirty dishes by your sink.

And if you leave your house, make sure you are someplace quiet where there aren’t a lot of distractions (a busy coffee shop down the street is probably not the best place to go).

3. Body language counts on the internet too

No matter which side of the interview fence you’re on, visual cues are extremely important. Be mindful of posture, keep track of what you do with your hands, smile when appropriate and remain focused.

You may just be eyeing a spider that’s about to jump onto your head, but if you’re constantly glancing down or to the side the interviewer may assume you’re looking at your watch (i.e., you’re bored) or at notes (you lack the ability to think on your feet).

4. Show genuine interest in the interview

Just because you aren't in the same room with your interviewers, doesn't mean they can't tell when you lose concentration and interest. When this happens, it is a death nell for an online interview to give the impression that you aren't taking it seriously.

In addition to maintaining eye contact and not peeking at your watch, advertise your interest by asking follow up questions, paying attention and sounding energetic.

5. Adjust the audio for online ediquite

When playing back your mock interview, take note of things such as voice, tone, volume, long pauses, and hesitation sounds such as “umm” and “well.” Mistakes in these areas will certainly not help—and will more than likely hurt—the way you’re perceived on the other end.

Have you been through a virtual interview before? What tips do you have for our readers?

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.

Revolutionizing the Almighty Quarterly Update or Year-end Meeting
January 24, 2014 @ 10:21 AM | By Sarah Murphy

Quarterly

If your company does business from more than one office, it is important to make everyone feel like an invaluable piece of a bigger puzzle. A loyal workforce is one in which each member feels valued and informed. But how is it possible to gather all those people in one room for a year-end meeting or quarterly update without breaking the bank?

While such a thing may sound impossible, that is far from the case. Through today’s conferencing services, remote teams, divisions or the whole organization can gather together on a single conference call. Using audio, video or the web they can connect from multiple locations simultaneously, discuss current issues and ideas and get a feel for where the company is headed. Through the web, it is also possible to share documents, budgets and revenue projections—key for fostering strong employee relations and establishing clear goals for the year or quarter ahead.

Should the need arise, the larger gathering may also break into smaller groups—perhaps by region, product or area of expertise. What a wonderful way to kill two birds with one stone, all while saving thousands on travel expenses and having to carve just one chunk of time out of busy schedules.

To learn more about how InterCall can help bring your company together no matter how many offices is has, please click here.

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.

Got the Fever for Conference Calls?
January 22, 2014 @ 01:44 PM | By Jill Huselton

Sick

You are home sick from work. This means instead of dressing up and driving into the office, you are lucky if you can get yourself out of bed and make yourself chicken noodle soup. It also means that at 11, you are going to have to muster up some sort of energy to dial in to the must-attend conference.

Unfortunately, work does not stop when you are sick, and part of holding a job means getting your work done even when you are not feeling your best. However, under certain circumstances, it’s best to keep your runny nose, bronchitis-like cough and sweaty fever at home; after all, you never want to be that guy who gets all the healthy people sick.

Thankfully, those snotty tissues and sore throats can remain at home thanks to today’s web conferencing services, which allow employees to dial into conference calls and remotely access desktops and applications without having to download any software—and all from the comfort of their home. By holding unified meetings, an employee can connect to a conference call and still have all of the resources available at the office without having to leave the home.

With flu season upon us and closer work quarters than ever before, it is time to be honest with yourself as to whether you can work remotely that day. And don’t forget to remember basic etiquette when it comes to conferences. If your sneezing fits and incessant cough will dramatically interrupt the flow of the call, then do everyone a favor and pop the cough drops and Sudafed and take a nap instead.

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.

Keep Everybody in the Loop with a Conference Call
January 16, 2014 @ 01:39 PM | By Jill Huselton

Remotelocales

You are about to head to your 9 am meeting. So, you roll out of bed and pour yourself a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee, and make your way to your office in New York City. You will be joined by Mary, who is sitting in a coffee shop parking lot in Delaware, as well as Steve who is currently dialing in from a hotel room in Georgia. Also on the line will be Ben, who is stuck in traffic somewhere outside of Chicago.

In the current economic climate, more and more companies are abandoning traditional brick-and-mortar offices for the cost-effective virtual work environment. In many cases, teams will only meet once in a blue moon but will be able to accomplish projects over great distances instead of in the same physical setting.

As anyone who works with a team of people in an office can testify, however, it takes time to get to know the habits and personalities of your coworkers. Oftentimes, it could take a few months before a team really clicks and gets rolling. When forced to accomplish this without meeting in real life, teams require advanced solutions for working together and making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Additionally, there are logistical issues related to collaboration that must be overcome in order to experience success. Real-time communication must ensue without excessive time delays. When trying to edit a draft together, in other words, you can’t wait all morning for an edit to come back via email if it is time sensitive. True collaboration is a parallel process, not a linear one. We’ve all lived through the email strings that have different people responding to different iterations at different times. You need to get everyone on the same page to be effective.

Online meetings are the perfect solution for overcoming issues related to both logistics and geographical distance. Through the use of a unified meeting, teams can edit documents in real-time and work on projects both efficiently and cost-effectively.

We want to know, has your team of remote workers had success using online meetings? Tell us about your experiences 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.

Ring in the New Year with a Conference Call
January 15, 2014 @ 01:52 PM | By Sarah Murphy

2014The gifts have all been opened, the resolutions set and someone finally tossed the fruitcake that was sitting in the conference room for weeks. It’s time to get back to business. But what if all those extra cookies and glasses of eggnog are weighing down more than the office chairs? Something needs to happen to get the creative juices flowing again and bring your staff back into the swing of things. What better way to do this than with a start-of-the-year conference call?

First, bringing everyone together for a conference will re-establish coworker camaraderie and remind them that they have a work family as well as their family at home. Nothing is a better motivator than feeling like a part of something bigger, knowing everyone depends on each other and seeing a real opportunity to contribute.

As the conversation starts to look back on the previous year, use the call to reflect on what worked well in 2013 and discuss what can be done better in 2014. Agree to goals and objectives everyone can work toward and have someone record them. Once the call is finished, the chosen secretary should send these objectives out to all participants—or even the entire company in general—as a roadmap for the coming year.

Like a football team that regroups after a half-time break, uniting your team after the holidays sends the message that it’s time to get back into the game. When it’s not possible to gather the entire office around one table, conference calls are the most efficient way to get the ball rolling again.

What could you discuss on your start-of-year conference call?

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.

How the Art Department Can Benefit from Online Meetings
January 14, 2014 @ 02:22 PM | By Sarah Murphy

Graphic

Frank is one of the best graphic designers on your staff. He can produce an outstanding infographic and dazzle your clients with his work. But while Frank is great at his job, he still needs clear instructions in order for the project he is working on to turn out right. Part of the task of custom publishing is making sure that you get a piece tailored exactly to a client’s needs. And while Frank is many things, he is not a psychic. He needs to know what the client wants before sitting at his laptop.

Through the power of an online meeting, Frank is able to jump on a conference call with the editorial department, the client and the operational team. He is able to converse with the client while referring to templates in real-time to show exactly what the team is capable of producing and how they can create exactly what is needed. This way, there is no guessing game when it comes to getting something done right the first time. Frank is also able to show videos, photos, pictures and articles to get a firm understanding of how the company wants to present its culture and business proposition.

Then, after the project is done, everyone involved in the creation of the infographic can gather together and edit the final piece in real time. For example, the editorial team can edit its text while Frank tweaks the colors to give it the complimentary edge that it needs. A team can then send the infographic out to a client resting assured that the product will be well-received.

How do you bring multiple team members together to collaborate on a project, so you aren’t wasting time with a lot of back and forth?

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.

To Conference, or Not to Conference?
January 10, 2014 @ 12:56 PM | By Christina Todisco

Juggling

It is a busy day, and you are in the middle of four different projects when it comes time to drop everything you are doing and attend an audio conference. You enter the conference and proceed to spend the next 45 minutes listening to two people go back and forth about a topic that has nothing to do with you.

Oftentimes, there is a fine line as to whether a topic deserves a conference in the first place. Many conferences can easily take place over email or be worked out between two people at a time. It is important to remember that while conferences are a great way to host group meetings, an unnecessary meeting can waste the time of colleagues and workers and can actually impede daily production.

In addition to determining if the time is right for a conference call, think about who you are inviting and ask yourself if those people really need to be on the call. Good management is getting the right information to the right people—not spamming everyone and their brother with everything. So as you put your invite together, make sure you have the right people coming to the meeting that will help you obtain your desired outcome.

And when you talk about sharing the right information, consider adding web conferencing to your meetings. When you do that, a whole workforce can join over a single interface that is easy to set up and navigate. Here, attendees can have access to text, audio and video presentations in real-time over the Internet. It is a way of collaborating in a group setting, rather than simply through voice communication. Direct input can be entered and seen by multiple people, so that ideas can be viewed with ease.

Want to learn more about how you can get the whole group communicating during a conference call? You can find more information 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.

Stop the Waiting Game, Your Clients Sure Want To
January 8, 2014 @ 01:02 PM | By Sarah Murphy

Late

Picture this scenario: You’ve been sitting on the phone for five minutes, waiting for a business associate who is late for a meeting. You’ve checked your calendar to confirm the time, as well as the clock. Should you hang up? What if you hang up, and the person you are waiting for joins the conference as soon as you do? Will they know you were waiting? Will they think poorly of you?

Anyone who has experienced a situation like this during a conference call can attest to how awkward it feels when the other party does not enter the call. Moreover, determining proper phone etiquette, including at what point you can hang up, is no small feat. Unfortunately, there is no standard rule for dealing with this problem and every situation is different, depending on who is on the other end of the line.

If it’s your boss, for instance, or a key client, that you are waiting for, you don’t want to be the one who hangs up too early. In this case, it’s advisable to endure every possible awkward minute that you can. This could be five minutes, or it could be 10. Only you know the habits of your co-workers and clientele. Some people are just always late. And if you are on the phone with a client while your boss is late, it is up to you to appease them and keep chatter going for as long as possible.

Occasionally, however, the situation could work in your favor. If, for instance, you did not get your work done and you know that you are truly in for it, there is nothing better than a botched phone call. It’s the same magic feeling one would experience in grade school when the teacher would get sick before a test and cancel the assessment. By the fourth minute of this call, you might as well hang up and celebrate.

No matter the circumstance though, there is oftentimes the empty feeling knowing that your client or co-worker blew you off. Further, there is a somber email to write, expressing a desire to “follow up at a later date.” And the next time you get on the phone with them, there will almost always be an apology waiting.

The point is that we’ve all experienced this awkwardness, and it’s not fun when you get stuck waiting forever for someone to pick up the phone. But if stellar customer service is your priority, then you should never put a client in this situation. If you can’t make a call, it’s best to let them know that you will not be able to make it. And with the right conference services for your mobile phone, you can log in to a meeting and inform participants of your status wherever you may be—no matter how busy you are.

So, how long do you typically wait during a conference call before you hang up the phone? 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.

Don’t Let BYOD Security Concerns Stop You From Mobile Conferencing
January 6, 2014 @ 12:27 PM | By Jill Huselton

Byod

Are fears about security holding you back from establishing a reliable mobile conferencing solution in your enterprise? Does the fear of sensitive company information traveling around wherever your employees roam keep you up at night?

You should always be conscious of safeguarding your company information. And when it comes to conference calls, the last thing that you want is for an interloper to listen in to an insider-only call. But with the right conference call security features, you can mitigate the likelihood of this from happening and enjoy all of the benefits that mobile conferencing has to offer.

Here are some basic security features currently available for your mobile device that can make conference calls as safe as possible when meeting on-the-go:

  • Leader PINs: Use a unique PIN so that there is never any question about the integrity of the person in charge of leading the meeting.
  • Entry/ Exit announcements: Now it is possible to make it known whenever someone enters or exits a conference call. This way, nobody can silently listen in without the knowledge of everyone else.
  • Conference locks: Conferences can be locked in order to prevent unwanted guests from accidentally dialing in.
  • Conference Continuation: You want to be sure that the call ends when you say it does—and will not linger on. Having this feature turned off will ensure that the call is over when you want it to be. At the same time, it can be adjusted to end when the last caller leaves the room.

Additionally, increased call management options currently available for mobile devices make it possible to see exactly who is in a meeting and where they are dialing in from. This way, if there is a suspicious party on the line, they can be called out and investigated. Unwanted third parties stand no chance of sneaking onto the line when it is possible to monitor each and every person on a call.

As with everything in life, nothing great comes with a no-risk guarantee. But with a little forethought, intelligence and oversight, there’s no reason your company should miss out on the many benefits of mobile conferencing.

Tell us, how do you ensure security while conferencing in your enterprise?

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.

Add Better Conference Call Habits to Your New Year’s Resolutions
December 30, 2013 @ 01:37 PM | By Sarah Murphy

NewYear

With the start of the new year comes the inevitable list of resolutions: eat less, exercise more, call mom once a week, keep the smart phone away from the dinner table. Sure, chances are that many of these will fall by the wayside come Valentine’s Day, but it’s only human to try. While you’re jotting down ways in which you can be a better spouse, stay fit or stop biting your nails, why not think about how to improve on conference calls as well? After all, next to home, the workplace is where we spend the most amount of our time.

Here are some possible conference call resolutions for 2014:

Don’t be late: If you wind up scrambling for conference IDs and passwords at the last minute, or find yourself lost in an endless maze of commands, you may have an unwelcome reputation for being tardy. To avoid this, keep everything organized or, better yet,take advantage of today’s services that enable everyone to join the call simply by clicking on a direct link in a calendar appointment.

Choose your environment wisely: While you may think no one can hear the loud co-worker flinging jokes your way, the sound of weights clinking against each other while you conference at the gym or the crunch of your salad as you snag bites between smart remarks… they can. Not only can this ruin a conversation, it can damage your relationship. To prevent this, plan ahead and consider using mobile conferencing to have more control.

Make every word count: If you have a habit of using poor language, choosing ineffective words, or just letting the conversation slide by without you, studying your performance is a great idea. Today’s conferencing services enable you to record previous conversations and play them back, so you can prepare yourself for next time.

Stay on-point: In order to make the most of your conversation, designate yourself or someone else as a moderator. This person is responsible for creating an agenda, calling for order and moving the conversation along when it gets carried away.

So, what are your conference call resolutions heading into 2014?

Sarah MurphySarah Murphy is an associate 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.

Technical Difficulties Can Ruin a Conference Call
December 27, 2013 @ 12:15 PM | By Christina Todisco

Obama

Recently, President Obama took part in a conference call hosted by nonprofit Organizing for Action in order to address criticism surrounding the technical difficulties of Healthcare.gov.

In an ironic twist, however, the unthinkable happened: the conference call was affected by a wide range of technical issues. Connection problems, outages and low-quality audio ruined the opportunity to communicate in real-time about the issues facing the Obamacare exchange. The call was a disaster.

When the game is on the line and you need to look good in front of an audience to show your leadership and demonstrate your authority about a particular issue, you need to make sure that the network infrastructure facilitating the operation is of sound quality. After all, there is much more at stake than simply the matter up for discussion. There is your reputation and customer trust. Clients want to know that you are a reliable business leader, capable of planning and following through with brilliant solutions to their needs.

In order to make sure your call operates flawlessly, make sure your conferencing service has built in redundancy through the use of various network providers and the ability to link multiple bridges at once to eliminate connectivity issues. Your conference call provider should offer maximum uptime and have operators standing by to assist callers in the event that something does go wrong. The last thing that you want is to have stranded callers wondering what is going on with no indication of whether or not it will resume.

What is important to you when it comes to evaluating the reliability of a conference call provider?

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.

Epic Conferences: Einstein, Curie, Bohr and the Solvay Conference of 1927
December 26, 2013 @ 05:14 PM | By Jill Huselton

Albert

When you think of all star lineups in 1927, the first names that might pop into your head are probably Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But look at this epic conference lineup, which gathered in Brussels for the Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons and the newly discussed quantum theory: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Niels Bohr capped a list of 26 attendees, 14 of which went on to become Nobel Prize winners.

Just imagine how much planning and expense must have gone into such a monumental event. Of the three aforementioned scientists, Einstein hailed from Germany, Curie from Poland and Bohr from Denmark. One has to wonder how much they paid for train fare, hotels, post-conference chatter over a pint of ale and roast duck. Furthermore, how many other innovators opted not to attend for financial reasons? How many simply couldn’t set aside their research – or their families – for that much time? Perhaps one of the greatest ideas was never heard due to these obstacles.

Unfortunately, many of these problems still plague people today when trying to gather for conferences. The cost of travel and lodging is still exorbitant, as executives can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on airfare, cars and hotels—not to mention meals. Yet conferences are still a crucial part of staying in touch and exchanging information, so a reliable and cost-effective solution is required.

Conference calls are one of the best options for gathering large groups together and facilitating crucial debates and conversations. You can even create sub-groups during the call to allow for private, simultaneous discussions without losing anyone from the call.

Have you had any epic meetings take place over a conference call? How much money have you saved by gathering your team over the phone instead of around a table?

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.

It’s a Short Week. Do Your Clients Still Want to Chat?
December 24, 2013 @ 10:38 AM | By Christina Todisco

Holidays_work

It’s 4:00 on a Tuesday during a holiday week. But while the rest of the working world is decking the halls with boughs of holly and gorging on cookies, you are in front of your computer fretting about whether to even email your team to see if the conference call you are coordinating for them and your client is a go or not.

What do you do in this situation? Should you have the call or should you ask to postpone until the next week?

Rather than listening to the proverbial angel and devil on each shoulder, let your client make the decision for you. Perhaps she is in the exact same boat as you—eager to get home to family but worried about perception. Or perhaps she wants to tie up all loose ends at the office so she can enjoy the long weekend with a clear head. The best thing to do is bring up the matter lightly and then leave the ball in her court. Your client will appreciate the fact that you respected her enough to let them decide.

As with all questions of business etiquette, the most important thing is making the client feel as if she’s the most important thing in the world to you. That’s not to say you should spurn your inner Bob Cratchit and volunteer to stay late on Christmas Eve, but the client should believe you would if she really needed you to.

What other quandaries does the holiday season cause when it comes to office etiquette? How do you deal with them?

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.

Know When to Take Your Call Offline
December 19, 2013 @ 02:05 PM | By Christina Todisco

Feud

There is nothing more awkward for a dinner guest than having to endure an argument by a feuding host couple. So, just as you wouldn’t want to look over and find your guest pushing a pile of peas around awkwardly on the plate, it is extremely poor conference call etiquette to put a participant in the same boat.

Unfortunately, this type of situation happens quite frequently during a conference call. Whether it is two members of the same team arguing about a new marketing venture or your client airing the company’s dirty laundry, we have all been in situations where we found ourselves asking, “Why is this part of the conference?”

In order to prevent these situations from occurring online, consider the following:

  • Make sure your key executives and meeting participants are on the same page about a topic before ever getting on the phone.
  • Ask to schedule a follow-up call if the conversation between your team members is getting testy.
  • However close you might be to a group of stakeholders, remember that a conference call is not a group therapy session. Never air your dirty laundry or get so into the weeds that you don’t know which way is up.

Consider this: your clients and colleagues need to see a unified, put-together package. It can be extremely frustrating for them to deal with even one person who is contentious or combative during an important conference call. Dealing with two people who cannot agree, however, sends a clear message to whoever has to bear witness that the company in question is not serious enough to work out all points of conflict before sitting down to negotiate.

To avoid these pitfalls, remember to think before you get on the phone. Communicate with your team prior to your conference calls so that you are all on the same page. If you find that you are still at odds by the time a call starts, it is better etiquette to politely request a time change than to send a leaky ship out to sea.

Have you ever experienced a situation like this? It is a cringer, right? Tell us about it!

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.

When Texting about a Meeting is a Good Thing
December 18, 2013 @ 11:41 AM | By Jill Huselton

Coffee

Picture this: you are standing in line for a coffee when your cell phone buzzes, informing you via push notification that people are waiting for your important conference call to start. Looking at your smartphone, you can see exactly who is already on the bridge and you can communicate with them directly through SMS to let them know you will be calling in just as soon as you get your latte. With the push of a button, you have the ability to start and manage your meeting right on-the-go.

As the above scenario shows, text messaging is rapidly gaining in popularity at the enterprise level. In fact, 32 percent of people who utilize text messaging have used it to close a deal. And 79 percent of bosses are in favor of business texting. With open rates of 99 percent compared to the 33 percent of email, it is an enticing feature that executives everywhere currently leverage.

Due to the overwhelming majority of people who prefer to text, many telecommunications companies are now offering specific data plans to accommodate this feature. Which means that text services are a popular, cost effective method of transmitting important information in real-time. And as a result, 82 percent of companies now allow for employees to use personal mobile devices at work.

In addition to SMS service, calendars and dial-in numbers are all accessible right in the palm of your hand through the power of unified communications (UC). Smartphones and tablets are now equipped with all of the tools necessary to exchange real-time information during the course of a conference call. In fact, it is possible to engage in audio and text at the same time—and to see exactly who is speaking. And it can be done so seamlessly that those on the other end would never know that you are nowhere near the conference room.

One such solution that allows users to manage conference calls directly from their smartphone is InterCall’s MobileMeet. Complete with SIRI integration and one-touch access for dialing in to a call, MobileMeet facilitates ease of use across multiple accounts.

MobileMeet is available for everyone who joins a meeting using InterCall’s conference call services, whether you have an account or not. You can get more information or download the app now to get started today.

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.
Vision

It’s safe to say that the West team is thrilled that we have maintained our Leader’s Quadrant position in the just-released 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, North America. For us, it serves as confirmation and validation that our vision and ability to effectively execute it are compelling. The bar for inclusion among the elite providers continues to rise and holding on to this spot is not at all assured. As we’ve seen, companies with solid histories can fall quickly and dramatically over the course of a single year.

There are two dimensions that Gartner evaluates UCaaS providers along: completeness of vision and ability to execute. I like the balance of the two and the dynamic tension that results from them. I think it means that a good story about the future of UCaaS is absolutely required, but it is not sufficient. We believe that UCaaS providers must be exceptionally good at specifying, provisioning, deploying, and supporting the products and services that flow from that vision or story. But on the flipside, all of this competence must be in the service of a larger goal, a destination towards which we’d like to take our customers. West is among the few that can pull this balancing act off over the long term.

As rewarding as recognitions like this are, our ultimate focus remains on our clients, both today’s and tomorrow’s. It simply has to because leadership, we believe, results from people responding to our vision and then becoming convinced that we can help them realize the benefits of that vision. Building that vision requires something few providers are willing to do, however. Fully committing to our relationships with customers allows us to gain their trust and confidence. Over time, we gain a deeper understanding of their organizational challenges, ultimately leading to product and service enhancements to better meet the current and future needs of our customers.

Achieving a great position in a report as prestigious as Gartner’s is a terrific thing, but it is not our goal. Rather, it is an outcome of how we choose to approach the market and of how we choose to work with our customers.

*Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, North America, Daniel O’Connell | Bern Elliot, 05 November 2013

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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.

What’s on Your Conference Call Holiday Wish List?
December 12, 2013 @ 02:47 PM | By Christina Todisco

Charlie-brown-christmas-tree-office

It’s that time of year again to hang the stockings on your cubicle wall, set up your 3 ft. faux Christmas tree and deck the office with boughs of holly. It’s also time to begin putting together a holiday wish list so that when FedEx Santa walks through the doors on Monday morning, you get every communications solution you need for an efficient 2014.

As 2013 winds down—the year that’s been filled with countless conference calls—buckle yourself in tightly as we explore three items that we suspect will pop up on conference call holiday wish lists across the country:

  • A comfortable chair: Sometimes conference calls seem to last forever and if you’re not comfortable, all you’ll be able to pay attention to is the agony in your lower back. Look for something comfortable, but not something too comfortable so that you slouch and slack off or worse yet, doze.
  • A reliable mute button: With a steady mute button that you feel comfortable using, you don’t have to worry about cracking a joke to whoever is nearby when someone on the line says something deserving. You also don’t have to worry about people hearing you cough or eat your lunch.
  • A complete call visibility solution: This would help you pay more attention to the content being discussed rather than wondering who in the world is actually talking, or worrying about page of the presentation they are on. Such a feature would help a caller focus more on the business that needs to get done.

What do you think? Will any of these make your list? What else would you add?

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.

How to Recover from These Three Conference Call Hiccups
December 11, 2013 @ 08:38 AM | By Christina Todisco

ConferenceCall

Let’s just start out by saying we have all been there. From botching the CEO’s last name during that pressing conference call to missing the call altogether, we have all had those moments in which our heart starts to pound, our voice cracks and we wish we were  home catching up on an episode of “Breaking Bad.”

But it’s OK. And here’s how you can recover when the following mishaps take place:

You Forget the Call

With so many meetings flooding your Outlook calendar, not to mention a web of double bookings, it’s a miracle that you make any call at all. But when you miss that incredibly important meeting—that one with the high-profile prospect you are so desperately trying to reel in—it can feel like the credibility of your company (and your reputation) is slipping away. Before spiraling into a mess of panic, take a deep breath and strategize. Keep in mind that an unplanned, frenetic call to this big fish to apologize will probably sink you even deeper. Conversely, you need to be calm, well-rehearsed and transparent.

Once you have collected yourself, call and discuss the situation. Give the reason for the missed meeting, apologize and move on. Then, get right to the solution and reschedule the call; do not expect the client to give you the “make-up” call on the spot. Alternatively, give the client ample time to prepare for the next meeting and schedule the call around his or her tasks. When you are done, leave yourself a reminder in an obvious location and solicit the help of at least one coworker to remind you when the next call is. After all, one missed call is a mistake. Two missed calls are just simply unprofessional.

You Prepared for the Wrong Call

This time, you remember that important call but the call winds up not being what you planned on. For instance, you prep for a conference call about implementing your company’s new product within your customer’s organization. The problem is this client only wants to talk about the questions that came up on their last invoice.

In this situation, instead of trying to shift gears on the spot, apologize that you had planned for a different agenda and ask for a time to reschedule so you can get the right subject matter experts on the call. Also ask to continue with what you had planned or if there is another time to go over the new offering.

You Forget to Push the Mute Button

The “mute” button is perhaps one of the most dangerous features of the conference call experience. Since it exists, callers are tempted to push it so they can vent to coworkers about the party on the other end, laugh when a call goes unexpectedly or multi-task with others in the room. But the “mute” button is something that should be avoided at all costs because forgetting you are live can spell disaster.

In the event you say something inappropriate when you thought you were muted—and are met with contention or aggravation on the other side—there is nothing to do except own up to your slip. A simple, “To be honest, we are a bit shocked the conversation has headed in this direction” or “Do you mind if we have a moment to regroup?” assures the receiver that you know they heard you. But, it also brings a degree of honesty to the conversation. The worst thing you can do is let your slip up escalate the call. Instead, ask for a brief recess and reschedule the call for when things have calmed down.

While there are many missteps that can make an otherwise productive conference call go awry, the right tools can preclude these mistakes. For example, robust conference call technology can aptly tell you when you are muted, grant you visibility into who is in the call and send calendar reminders to your cell phone to remind you of when a call is about to take place. Tell us… do you have the right conference call tools in place?

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 Calls Are the Remedy: No Mo’ FOMO
December 6, 2013 @ 03:15 PM | By Christina Todisco

Addicted

You’ve heard the crazy stats about how often people check their smartphones one study found 58% of respondents check at least every hour. It is all the result of FOMO (fear of missing out), which before long will undoubtedly be a new psychological condition if it isn’t already.

If you are faced with needing to be out of the office, whether it is to run to the bank on your lunch break, pick up your kids from school or travel to a client meeting, conference calls can be just the thing to relieve your anxiety. Not only do they break down geographical barriers, lower expenses of all kinds and obliterate logistical obstacles, but they also help make sure you never miss out.

Thanks to conference calls, you can remain in constant communication with your team throughout the entire life of a project. If you are stuck in morning traffic, snowbound in the suburbs or even dealing with downed telephone lines, your blood pressure does not need to hit the roof fretting about not being included in an important discussion. Thanks to mobile conferencing, you can remain in the loop right over your cell phone – on the highway or in your bathrobe or while running to drop the kids at school.

When it comes to international or cross-country business, meeting with clients across the globe no longer require plane tickets, hotel reservations and days away from home traveling with a twelve-pound laptop. Instead, through an online meeting you can meet with your client in Spain to collaborate as if you were working on the same computer, sitting side by side. You can share documents, edit files, interact in real time and even make an entire desktop available to your colleagues in Hong Kong and London. The whole team can look at videos together, share photos and keep up-to-date with important budgets and schedules.

With conference calls, it’s all about breaking down whatever barriers stand in your way in order to get a job done. Whether you are forced to wait for a herd of cattle crossing a back country road on your way to work or Godzilla, you can rest assured that the work can still get done in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

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.
Growth

I just saw a new study that reports that the global UCaaS market will continue on its growth tear, increasing from $2.5B in 2013 to over $7.6B in 2018. Such a growth trajectory mirrors what we’re seeing in a number of communications technology sectors across the market – for both the enterprise and for consumers.

The fact is, establishing and maintaining close, ongoing contact with key ‘others’ is a defining characteristic of this time in history. Empowered by an endless array of new technologies, people are reaching out to a larger and larger circle of contacts. We post updates, images, and more for consumption at the convenience of some audiences. We also maintain multiple simultaneous live streams with voice, IM, and video conferencing tools. This is, truly, a golden age of telecommunications.

In the context of enterprise communications, there is a solid lineup of tools to help drive more effective communication between internal and external audiences. One question remains, however; are customers actually leveraging these tools to make changes to key business processes, allowing them to create sources of new competitive advantage? In other words, is UCaaS transformative, or just another ‘shiny object” to marvel at before moving on? From what we’ve seen, the answer is most definitely and emphatically “Yes, it is absolutely transformative.”

The clients we’ve seen make the kinds of adjustments possible when given UCaaS tools have made an explicit decision to understand how the technology supports ideal business processes – not ones bound or limited by preexisting technologies.  Having made that choice, they also take a cross functional approach, making sure that everyone, from IT to operations, accounting, and sales, are included and challenged to find better ways to get the job done.

So it’s no surprise to us that many projections show the sales of UCaaS solutions continuing to grow at a 25%+ CAGR. IT teams supporting smaller to midsized organizations were early adopters because of the economics. But now, adoption is driven far more by how UCaaS can change an organization, to free it to pursue the best process solutions. We’ll certainly be glad to see the market grow to nearly $8B in the next five years. What will be more satisfying, though, is knowing that significantly more billions in improved productivity and general performance was made possible by the solutions West IP Communications pioneered back in 2000.

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.

A Conference Doesn’t Have to End When the Lights Go Off
December 3, 2013 @ 12:32 PM | By Christina Todisco

Lightbulb

Picture this: you are standing at your booth at a conference, trying to smile at every prospective client who comes your way while still managing to steal a bite of your cookie and sandwich as quickly as possible when you happen to strike up a conversation with a person next to you. You get started talking about how your businesses could collaborate when it is time to go to the next event.

Today’s fast-paced business setting does not halt for anything; so if you want your collaboration to come to fruition, you need access to advanced, cost-effective solutions necessary for making it happen. Chances are, upper management will not want to foot another bill by sending you to meet your new contact after you return to the office.

A conference call is one solution you can use to follow up and stay in touch with important contacts you meet. When combined with the use of an online meeting, you will have all the tools necessary for exchanging and editing information in real-time. By expanding a conference call into an online meeting, it will be possible to communicate with new partners or colleagues as if they are working right next to you on the same computer. Just think about the possibilities that could unfold when you don’t have to worry about spilling your food on your panel notes at a conference.

Have you been to a conference where you met great people you didn’t want to lose touch with? How did you keep your conversation going? Cick here for more information about how InterCall can help your company get the most out of networking.

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.