Phone conferences are boring, right? You get your 800 number, call in, enter your pin code, and just like that – you’re dumped into what is far too often a painful conference call. How many times have you heard someone on a call ask, “Can you say that again?” Conference call participants don’t ask this question repeatedly because the sound quality is poor, but because the entire conference call format is boring and there are too many other distractions happening on their side of the phone. They’re emailing and instant messaging instead of engaging and collaborating. But the old way of phone conferencing is changing.
If your enterprise is using what I’ve referred to over the years as a unified communications hub, then it’s likely that you can instant message someone in your company. And if you can do that, then your unified communications hub can also support private branch exchange (PBX), which means it can conference. For our internal calls, we use Microsoft Lync, so we can get pretty large internal conferences going. The difference with using PBX is that many people around the company’s global offices can call from their laptops, and we can also share presentations. By leveraging the functionality of PBX, the conference call becomes a collaboration call. It’s not as boring and it’s more interactive.
Let’s go back to the example of the old-fashioned, painful phone conference. More and more people are calling into theses conferences from their mobile phones. As a result, we often have conference calls going on with a mix of people on traditional landlines, mobile phones, VoIP phones and VoIP mobile endpoints. Yes, even VoIP mobile endpoints because the advent of LTE, with its speed and corresponding mobile on-ramp to the Internet, has enabled mobile endpoints to be IP. Wainhouse Research estimates that more than one-third of all access into conference calls in 2012 was via mobile phones or VoIP endpoints.