Are you working with clients, suppliers or staff at a distance? How can you improve the interactivity of your distance communications?
Broadband speed internet access can revolutionise the way that you can communicate at a distance. This can have enormous cost savings for your business as well as improving relationships.
We are currently using a combination of these technologies in a variety of ways.
I use VOIP as my daily phone service and also use Skype to communicate with colleagues and clients on a daily basis, often using video. I use Instant Messaging via Skype for quick responses and to see whether people are available for a call.
I have found that recent innovations at GotoMeeting, mean that the Conference Call service is being used less and less. I am using GotoMeeting more and more as it makes for far more productive Conference Calls.
We have been using the Webinar feature of GotoMeeting to assist in the delivery of on-line training, especially across organisations with offices in multiple locations.
These tools are outlined below.
VOIP: This stands for Voice Over Internet Protocols as is basically about transmitting voice calls via the internet rather than over a phone line. This results in fantastic cost savings.
There are basically 2 types of VOIP service: hardware and software.
- Hardware VOIP Services: use a device (like a modem) to convert your voice into electronic signals and transmit over the internet. It is just like using a normal phone and costs are in the vicinity of 10c to 15c per call for local and national calls (untimed). Calls to mobile are more expensive and international calls are usually very competitive, Using a VOIP service on my office phone has cut my phone bill by 75%. There are number of providers (most ISP’s offer a service) but I have used www.engin.com.au as they were competitive on price and service. You will usually need to purchase an adapter.
- Software VOIP Services: www.skype.com This is a software system that allows you to make telephone calls from your computer using VOIP. Calls from computer to computer are free and you can also have free video calls if you have a webcam . Skype also allows you to make calls from your computer to landlines at a cost similar to hardware VOIP.Sign up is free.
Instant Messaging: use this to send short messages instantly. It is great for checking whether people are available for a phone call or for simple questions. Solutions are included with Skype but are also available through Yahoo and Microsoft.
Conference Calls: There are a number of low cost Conference Call Companies that enable you to make conference calls often at a big discount to the big players like Telstra.. One of the simplest and best in Australia and New Zealand is www.hotairconferencing.com.au and I have found their costs to be about 50% of the big guys and the system is much simpler to set-up and run.
Online Meetings: There are a number of great solutions for conducting on-line meetings. These solutions allow you to have multiple people “attend” and to see whatever is on the presenter’s screen. This can be a PowerPoint, spreadsheet, document, database, etc. They include full audio and the ability to record your meetings.
I have been using www.gotomeeting.com which has a fantastic built in audio system. Another very popular program is www.webex.com both are reasonably priced with free trial services. The Perfect Storm webinar was recorded using Webex.
Both suppliers also have Webinar options which are tailored to this expanding market and enable you to market, manage and deliver a webinar with multiple speakers to up to 1,000 people. It is very cost and time effective.