Is audio conferencing on the way out?

Serious Business People On Conference CallWe hear a lot these days about the dreaded audio conference call.  People muting out and not engaged; background noise like a child crying;  a participant puts everybody on hold and everybody hears elevator music; someone starts typing on their keyboard making it sound like wood peckers are invading the meeting.  Many question the productivity of audio conference calls.    In spite of all of this it will be a long time before audio conferencing becomes a thing of the past.

Phones are easy and certainly ubiquitous with competitive audio conferencing companies everywhere.  It’s simple to dial into an audio conference, but not so simple to run an effective meeting.  We don’t think it’s on the way out, but there will be some migration towards videoconferencing.  One of our companies, BtoB Connect,,  uses Scopia by Avaya.  This platform accommodates the world wide video standards and we can integrate a regular phone connection for those who don’t have a mobile device or computer with a web cam.  We conduct monthly meetings on this platform and it is interesting to observe how video participants interact vs. audio participants.  The Video participants are much more engaged.  You can see clearly how they are reacting to the agenda and the presentation input from the computer.  Often audio participants are tuned out and when addressed there is dead air for a moment because they are multi-tasking or otherwise not engaged in the meeting.  The contrast on who is engaged is overwhelming when you mix audio participants with video participants.

What we like about the Scopia solution is it’s easy to control the meeting.  It’s very simple to mute and un-mute participant’s mics, eliminating echo and background noise instantly.  Also video participants have their names displayed right below their video image — this is like an electronic name tag.  Phone participants get a gateway ID number and this gets highlighted in bold type when they speak.  We write their name down next to the gateway ID as they enter the meeting.  Because Scopia works within the ITU, (International Telecommunications Union), video standards we can seamlessly connect to a conference room using videoconferencing.   This platform allows us to stay above the fray and confusion with the “video app flavor of the month” that’s not built on the ITU world standards.

In time, routine videoconferencing from any computer and any mobile device will be as ubiquitous as audio conferencing, but audio conferencing will be around for a long time.

See the enclosed Wall Street Journal Report:  “Surviving a conference call”

See enclosed article: “Why audio conferencing is so ineffective”


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