Conference call storage & sharing

I’ve been thinking about mobile applications in the enterprise for a while. In a lot of areas, demand comes up dry. Often, ‘conventional’ mobile workers like salespeople and ‘field operations’ (thinking stock image of man with hard hat and toolbelt), aren’t really spending their day conjuring about and wanting new technology like this. And ‘knowledge workers’ who are mobile, don’t really think of themselves as mobile workers. That’s a shame because I think there’s a lot more opportunity for creativity with mobile than a lot of other areas of IT innovation that get more attention.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is conference calls. I know there are plenty of conf call solutions and all the features I’m about to write about probably exist somewhere. This isn’t a ‘build a business’ idea as much as a ‘apply technology, rinse, repeat’ one.

The telephone is the way workers not in the office communicate together most often, especially in groups. Email, instant messaging, and virtual chat rooms, don’t hold the same cachet of getting things accomplished that voice communication does.

Yet, how many conference calls do we listen to while being 95%+ passive? Would we sacrifice that miniscule interaction for asynchronicity, and the convenience that comes with it? It certainly would be nice to have the option!

For example, let’s say there’s a 30 minute conference call scheduled for 8am. Let’s say I would usually call in on my mobile phone while driving to work. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could instead get this streamed through my mobile with say a 15 minute delay, so that I could pause or rewind as necessary? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to worry about dropping my connection and interrupting the call by ‘toning in’ again? Let’s be honest: maybe I could fast forward through idiotic exchanges completely tangential to the call?

As a manager, wouldn’t it be nice if I could push the recording of this call out to whomever I wanted with a notification and maybe even a small snippet of the call as a preview?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the luxury of sharing? Conference calls are especially popular with distribution channels. Let’s say I have a reseller in Dallas with a 4-man office, which would be a hypothetical. Let’s say they have a habit of having 1 man on the call, with the notion that that designee will share all the ‘useful information’ with the others. Hmm… How about that 4 man team each get a recording of the call, 1 man listens to it in real time? Hmm…how about as the Channel Director, I get to flag timestamps in the call that are particularly important; maybe I can reference them in my notes too???

OK, so I have illustrated the people benefits. What about the IT benefits? 1. Cost savings. A stream over mobile or obviously web is neglible in cost versus mobile phone minutes. Depending on your conf call plans, there could be added savings.

2. Conference calls aren’t just perishable, they evaporate instantly! Knowledge management is a driver in many IT orgs. Alluded to above, storage, proper identification, and dissemination of information is highly valuable. Conf calls should be captured. If they are web hosted, they can be measured as well. A conference call recording downloaded 1,000 times, typically by recently-hired employees might suggest that the content therein might be incorporated into new-hire training? Brilliant! IT deserves a vacation to the Bahamas!

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