Hey Audio Conferencing Master…. Have you graduated to converged audio, web and video conferencing yet? If so, I hope you are off to a good start at improving your business and personal life by taking advantage of its many benefits. After all, that’s what those in the small business world are after. According to the Enterprise Council on Small Business, small business owners’ number one definition of success is Satisfaction—satisfaction with a proportionate work-life balance, happy customers, and the opportunity to do what you love. Second to satisfaction is Growth—business growth in terms of customers, revenue, and (ultimately) profit. I am biased when it comes to the converged conferencing space (after all, it’s what I work on at AT&T), but it’s not without reason: a converged conferencing platform can help you achieve both work-life balance and growth.
Let me explain how by categorizing the benefits of converged conferencing into three categories:
- Reduced costs in terms of travel, energy use and office space
- Expanded business reach
- Increased collaboration among your employees, suppliers, and customers
Reduce Costs – Lower Overall Business Expenses
I‘m not just suggesting that converged conferencing will allow you to make fewer airline flights; it’ll also reduce your cross-town traffic.
- Move internal meetings – those that you call everyone into the office for – to an integrated conferencing platform.
- Share any document or desktop application you need to share while using video and providing that personal touch that audio conferencing alone just can’t.
- And enable teleworking by giving employees the ability to collaborate online.
Is it really necessary to have every employee sit at his or her desk eight hours a day? You can realize space savings, help lower energy costs, and reduce your company’s dependence on office space. And if you can help a customer or branch location with a need via remote desktop control or by viewing the situation via a webcam, you save an in-person visit.
Expand your Reach –More Customers, More Revenue, More Profits
Webinars have become one of the most popular avenues for reaching an existing or new customer base. With the reach of a converged conferencing platform, you’ll be able to turn your regional business into a national or even global business. With access to an internet connection and a telephone, participants can join your company’s webinar. You can use this type of service to launch new products and provide training. With the video capability, participants can see your new products and see the presenter—which personalizes the interaction. You’ll also have access to all your resources (not just the ones you put in your briefcase or on your thumb drive). Office experts won’t have to take a full day (or days) to fly to a seminar location. They can access the meeting and provide valuable insight from their desktop.
Increased collaboration is considered a “soft dollars” benefit—one that is difficult to measure, but it can contribute greatly to your company’s revenue and profits. So often, I’ll be on the phone with a colleague and need for him to look at a document or share a desktop application. Rather than email a document while we’re talking, I can share it directly via the web. Contracts, purchase orders, scope of work documents, etc., can get done live via web collaboration versus passing the documents back and forth. This reduces the “he said/she said” factor of collaborating on revisions and when discussing critical information. Working together and eliminating mistakes will increase satisfaction levels for you, your customers and your suppliers.
It’s important to note that your use of converged conferencing is provided via a secure environment. You’ll have complete control of the participants’ list, optional security codes, lock-out features and more. Participants don’t even need to be at their computers. If they have a smartphone and your provider has created an app for it, they’re good to go. iPhones and Blackberries are popular when it comes to converged conferencing apps.
My motto is, “Always be ready to collaborate.” I’m all for making EVERY meeting a converged conferencing meeting. Open that web conferencing application and have your web cam ready. If you haven’t graduated from audio-only conferencing yet, it’s time.