Conference Calling Archives

January 8, 2008

Next Generation Conference Calling for SMEs - Part 1


It has been a while since we posted here but I thought since our next version of the Lypp service is very close to what we use to have in the original Gaboogie application, plus a bunch of new features, that this would be a fitting place to write about Next Gen Conferencing.

Since starting Xten (now Counterpath) back in the day, technology has not changed much in terms of conference calling. I remember when we were designing the very first Xten softphone, our beta group insisted on us including at least 4 person conference calling right in the client. We did that and it was a huge selling feature, although I think I was the user who used it the most.

The one thing we found out rather quickly was that even if it was cool to have 45 people conferenced over 15 softphone nodes was not at all that practical.

i got to thinking about conferencing and much time I spend trying to manage my calls, where I put my wallet card, what the Dial-in number was, what the conference room number is, my PIN etc. Why does it have to be so convoluted?

If we take a look at the vast majority of conference service providers (CSP) out there we find one thing in common. Dialing into a conference bridge is required to join a call that is not already in progress. By this I mean there are very few services that offer scheduled call-out as an option when setting up a conference call. There are reason for this, it's not easy. It sounds simple enough but when you think about all of the potential scenarios it's gets rather complicated.

Let's say Judy is an executive assistant to Mark. Mark has asked Judy to set up a conference call for 2pm the next day and to bring on 12 other managers for that call. Hmm, not as simple as it sounds. Typically Judy would have to track each person down, send them the call details and ask them to call in at the time of the conference. She would not be sure where to find these people. They could be on the road, in the office, at lunch, who knows!?

Would it not be easier if she could simply schedule the call through an easy to understand web interface and select the contacts who were to be on the call? The rest should be done for her. The notifications should be sent and the call should just simply happen on it's own. Meaning, the attendees should be called. If they attendees miss the call they could always check the call-in details and dial in themselves or Judy could bring them in using simple touch tone commands on her phone or by using the easy t navigate web interface, without the need to use a costly conference call operator.

Well, that is all fine and good but what if the number you are calling sits behind an IVR system and you need to enter an extension to complete the connection with the called party? The first Gaboogie application did not handle this very well. The only way we could work around it was to dial multiple numbers simultaneously hoping the contact would pick up one of them, not a great solution.

Next Generation Conference Calling should handle this with relative ease. We thought hard about it and came up with 2 remedies; Extension Dialing and Sub-conference Dial-out. When the conference is scheduled the coordinator can enter extensions that need to be called and the system takes care of the rest. In the case that the call is already in progress, the coordinator can simply create a private room with a couple of digit presses and from there call anyone they need to. The coordinator can then screen the person and bring them back into the main call with ease.

Stay tuned for the next entry where we describe our mobility features and why they can help you in your work day when on the road.

February 27, 2008

Gaboogie blog has moved -

We are consolidating the Gaboogie blog with the Lypp blog. If you are viewing this in a reader you can remove it and add in it's place.

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37signals and Gaboogie Mashup Contest (Feb. 26)


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