Recommendations for Effective Conferencing: Work in the Time of Corona

In the first three blogs of this series on conferencing, Amalgam Insights discussed top conferencing vendors and their Coronavirus-specific free offerings to support remote work, top functional considerations for purchasing conferencing solutions, and evaluating conferencing solutions. In this final blog, Amalgam Insights provides recommendations for using conferencing solutions effectively.

This four-part blog series on Conferencing Solutions includes the following topics:
Part I: Introduction to Conferencing Solutions
Part II: Defining and Purchasing Conferencing Solutions
Part III: Evaluating Conferencing Solutions
Part IV: Recommendations for Effective Conferencing

Key Stakeholders: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, Network Services Directors and Managers, Telecom Directors and Managers, IT Directors and Managers

Why It Matters: In the Time of Corona, Amalgam Insights estimates that the United States workforce working from home has increased from 5% at the end of 2019 to over 30% as of the end of March 2020. In light of this fundamental shift, companies must choose, deploy, and administer conferencing solutions effectively to support remote workers and maintain collaboration-based productivity.

Top Takeaway: Conferencing is a core capability to support teamwork, collaboration, and face-to-face interaction in remote work settings. By understanding the features, pricing, and best practices associated with supporting conferencing solutions at scale, companies can evaluate and implement conferencing solutions at scale to support business continuity and remote teams in the Time of Corona.

Recommendations for Conferencing in the Time of Corona

In considering conferencing solutions in a remote work era, Amalgam Insights provides the following recommendations.

First, figure out what solutions you have in hand. It is not uncommon to see unmanaged enterprises using five, ten, or even twenty different conferencing solutions across text, voice, and video. Because these conferencing solutions are relatively inexpensive and can easily hide in a P-card, expense report, or project, employees have chosen their own conferencing tools. However, to make a good corporate choice and to take full advantage of corporate buying power, IT should start by simply polling employees on whether they are using the corporate conferencing tool or another tool that fits their workflows better.

Second, focus on ease of use. Before committing to a single vendor, look at the ease of use and users’ propensity to adopt the technology for themselves. Any product that consistently requires 5-10 minutes for a user to enter the platform should be a non-starter. Ideally, employees will find a platform that they already prefer, so that enterprise IT can focus on best practices in administering and securing conversations rather than spending countless hours teaching users how to simply hold a conference.

Third, don’t take conferencing functionality for granted. Even if the idea of a conference call is well understood, employees still need a resource to learn basics, such as muting the call when not speaking, using video as a remote employee to be taken more seriously, administering all calls that you initiate to lock down messaging and muting, and optimizing conferencing usage based on corporate best practices for running meetings.

Fourth, internal users and employees need to be equipped to take full advantage of their conferencing solutions. This means that they need hardware that is up to date in taking advantage of captioning, virtual backgrounds, and other modern conferencing capabilities. This may mean investing in microphones or cameras for employees that regularly need to support larger meetings. But the cost of hardware is typically miniscule compared to the value gained from having more comprehensible and engaging meetings, especially at a time when businesses are going to struggle with human contact, eye contact, and missing real-life cues that show the true intent of speakers and presenters.

Fifth, focus on optimizing plans and discounts based on the vendor, number of users, and functionality needed. Conferencing plans, discounts, and “zombie” accounts often provide an optimization opportunity of between 10-50% of the total spend, depending on the company’s ability to consolidate accounts, negotiate contracts, right-size plans, and eliminate unused services. At a time when cash flow is an imperative for most businesses, do your part to maximize cash on hand.

Conclusion

Choosing the best conferencing platform for your organization need not be a difficult endeavor. Following the recommendations we’ve provided should speed up your time to deployment. Almost every organization can benefit from having a conferencing solution in place. Finding new ways to bring employees together during unprecedented times is crucial.

Note that conferencing is not the only helpful communications tool to consider to support a remote work environment. Future installments in this series will cover messaging platforms, key vendors, and top considerations for selecting the right platform both for now and in a post-Corona future.

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