A recent podcaster on the US National Public Radio made a startling statement – Alexis Madrigal, the Deputy Editor of The Atlantic pointed out that conference calls, one of the most critical elements to collaborating with co-workers and business partners, still works on a legacy technology that is nearly a century old. As a consequence, these calls are often bugged by voice quality and communication breakdown issues.
It is not easy to fix the traditional conference calling technology considering that its purpose is to bring together telecom networks that are all built on top of legacy phone systems. According to a blog post on AllStream, one of the leading business internet and communication provider in Canada, Unified Communications is a great alternative since it tries to integrate communication lines over landline, mobile phone and computer over a single platform.
But that may not be the solution to the woes of the conference calling industry. UC requires investments that not all businesses can afford. Besides, this technology still relies on the tech-savviness of the consumers to work as desired. As Alexis states, is this the end of the line for the conference call?
Not necessarily if you look at the new line of mobile phone apps that have sprouted in the past few years. With Android and Apple together accounting for more than 95% of the smartphone market share, the conference calling apps built for these two OS platforms have been the driving force behind the revival of the conference call.
Consider Voxteet, for instance. Unlike traditional conference calls where it is sometimes difficult to identify who exactly is speaking, Voxteet offers 3D sound and speaker recognition feature that offers visual cues for the user to know who is speaking. Voxteet also makes dial-ins redundant and makes it possible for the user to switch between IP-lines and phone lines in just a click. Best of all, it’s free.
Voxteet is not the only option in the market. With Speek, conference calls become much more useful by making it possible for callers to share files and record calls. A major gripe that people have with traditional conference calls is that the mute controls are in the hands of the individual participants. As a result, it is difficult to avoid a mouth breather, if there is one. With Speek, the choice to mute a participant is with you.
Another app that is helping revive the conference calling industry is UberConference. Conference calls have traditionally been loathed for being time-sinks. There is always a participant who joins in late and this ruins the call for everyone else. With UberConference, the organizer can set up the participants and schedule the call in advance so that the app would initiate a call from its end. All that the participants need to do is to pick up the call. This avoids scheduling errors at the participant’s end and makes it easier for the organizer.
Conference calls are here to stay. With the new mobile apps on Android and iPhone, this technology is seeking a new lease of life. It will be interesting to see how conference calling evolves over time. How do you think smartphone apps can further improve conference calling? Tweet us and let us know.