With everyone talking about unified communication (UC) and collaboration, including web and video, standard audio conferencing does not really get discussed very often. However, many more people use audio conferencing than have invested in UC and video conferencing.
For many this means using Spark audio conferencing – Meet Me (083032) and Meet Me Collect (083033) and then entering a PIN and being joined together for the meeting. There are more features than this but for many this is their user experience and is quick and easy.
A warning though. If you are calling from a mobile this is charged as a call to a premium service and call charges are high – particularly so on a long conference. Such calls do not use your “free” minutes on your mobile plan. We have experienced this ourselves.
You may have noticed that Spark is retiring its old Meet Me platform in favour of a newer platform called Reservationless-Plus. Some of our clients have already experienced the move. This service uses an 0800 number (0800 633 866), so anyone can call in using any device without additional cost. It is the conference organiser that pays for the conference connections. For those who wish to stay with a similar dial in number the new service uses 083038.
Benefits of Reservationless Plus
- Increased security
- 10 digit PIN numbers instead of 6 digits
- Ability to separate conferences so if your meeting overruns, people are not dialling in to the next conference and unknowingly joining yours
- Increased levels of control with application allowing you to control users, mute, drop off etc
- The ability to host larger conferences – 150 participants instead of 50
- Mobile and Windows apps allows conference control from desktop or mobile
- IP telephony – leverages calling across the internet into the service
- Increased calling flexibility with more international tollfree access numbers and calling from local and mobile numbers
- Cost savings from using tollfree numbers, but organiser still pays for the conference services
- A portal allowing the customer to control and report on their accounts and manage calling spend
- Ability to call participants from the conference
- Integration with Microsoft, Adobe, Google and Cisco products – As the use of these services increase they can be included in conferences
Audio conferencing is widely used. It is convenient. But as we have seen with a number of our clients recently a reasonable amount of audio conferencing cost can be avoided if manged properly.
Issues with audio conferencing
- It is certainly more costly than standard calling and may not be the most cost effective solution
- It can almost be too convenient and is used when not really needed, one to one calls or when one person needs to dial in
- If clients, suppliers or other 3rd parties are required to call in they may experience unexpected cost or you will need to pick up these costs
TeleConsultants recommend reviewing audio conferencing costs to ensure it is being used appropriately. When looking at these costs annually they can add up.
If you have not changed already and you use Spark we recommend you understand how the new service works and how the new features can benefit you and your business. Spark intends the change is complete by year end. We recommend you plan your change rather than wait and have to move with all those that have not planned.
If you want to review your audio conferencing and understand more we are keen to help.