Friday, October 3rd, 2014 .

Telecom technology review company Software Advice, recently put together a list of key findings regarding the way that employees utilize video and teleconferencing in the modern workplace. They spoke to over 389 workers on how they do remote meetings and what features and services they prefer.

Let’s break down the three key findings from the report:

 

1) Most employees surveyed used both audio and videoconferencing, with 39 percent relying “mostly” on audio conferencing and 31 percent using both equally.

frequency-of-usage-audio-vs-video-conferencing

While videoconferencing is growing in popularity, we at UberConference believe that sharing can be done in a mutlitude of ways. While facial features and body language are an important component of video conferences, having a clear audio connection is the only way they can truly work.

 

2) Employees preferred videoconferencing for training and customer support contexts, and preferred audio conferencing for internal communications.

Our very own Hugo Romano, product manager for UberConference, was featured in the article explaining: “If you’re meeting a person for the first time, you need to see body language to understand how she or he communicates.” This is especially true when trying to walk someone through a product demonstration or support inquiry.

 

3) Employees liked the ease of setup that audio conferencing provides, while they liked the ability to read body language through videoconferencing.

Both features have their strengths and we believe UberConference, with screen sharing and document sharing capabilities can provide a rich end user experience.

Read the full report here.

Friday, February 28th, 2014 .

What makes a great hold music song?  

– catchy melody

– lyrics you don’t quite know but can fake your way through

– lyrics that don’t quite make sense either

– something that could be performed by artists as varied as an 80s punk band or Perry Como.

– a song that doesn’t quite annoy you but isn’t really very good either

Of course anything by Glen Campbell is good, as well as most of the Coldplay catalog.  Believe it or not, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana could be an excellent hold music song, especially if it were covered by, say, Nancy Griffith.   Or, since we’re in that mode of thinking, how about the 80s punk classic “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely” by Husker Du… except it’s covered by Jack Johnson.

You know what else works great on hold?  Just about anything by either Dean Martin or Celine Dion.

Keep in mind here, I’m not praising this music for its musical qualities.  I’m praising it for its ability to distract you from the annoyance of being put on hold.  If you’re on hold and some hold music is playing and you aren’t singing along but instead are getting increasingly peeved, the hold music has failed.  Good hold music keeps you from entering the state of peevishment.  Which is a word I just made up.

And, having spent considerable time on hold in my frequently misbegotten life, I’ve come up with four songs that really are the best.

And then I thought: what else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For that section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that you will always enjoy listening to as you are stuck in hold purgatory.

 

Four Hold Music Classics

1. “The Girl From Ipanema”.  You’ve just called your insurance company about why they rejected a claim you made for the poweful anti-depressant meds your psychiatrist prescribed, and they put you on hold to check.   The darkness is gathering over your life, bleak thoughts of nothingness and despair fill you as you sit and wait…  suddenly, on the hold music: “Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking…”  And there you are, not quite so aggravated, not quite so willing to question your entire existence.  It’s a lovely day in Rio and the girl from Ipanema has just walked by, my friend.  Things are gonna be okay, even if that prescription is going to cost you $1,600 a month out of pocket.


2. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”  Burt Bacharach and Hal David are one of the great song-writing duos of all time.  And I have often said these words to myself while waiting for the electric company to approve an extension on my bill: “Raindrops keep fallin’ in my head, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red.  Cryin’s not for me…”  The woman from PG & E then comes back on the line and before she can say anything, you say to her: “Look, regardless of what your decision is, I just want you to know that these blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me.”  There’s a long, uncomfortable pause and then she says: Okay, well, we can give you one more extension but then you have to pay the bill in full.  Thanks so much, you say, and remember, ma’am: you’re never gonna stop the rain by complainin’ because you’re free.  She hangs up, but you’re happy because your refrigerator is going to work for another month!


3. “What’s It All About, Alfie?”  Another hold music classic from Bacharach and David.  You’ve called your agent, and she’s “on the line with another client, could you hold?”  Sure, you say, because what else are you, an unemployed writer, going to say?  You’re wondering if the network liked your pilot script and are a bundle of nerves until these questions are posed by Dionne Warwick: “Is it just for the moment we live?  What’s it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie?’  You know what? you say to yourself, Dionne Warwick makes a good point.  It doesn’t really matter if this project is picked up and you suddenly are rich.  No.  It’s cool if they say no because they hate my writing because, really, what’s it all about?  Nothing, frankly.  It’s just TV.

4. “If Ever I Should Leave You” from the Broadway musical, “Camelot.”  You’ve got a quick question for your lawyer about the divorce but he’s just finishing up a conference call with a couple who are preparing a pre-nup so you’re on hold.  And then you hear these words being sung: “I’ve seen you in autumn when fall nips the air/I know you in autumn and I must be there.”  Oh, no, not in springtime,  you start belting away, summer, winter or fall… the lawyer comes on the line.  Look, you say, I’ve decided she can have all the good car and the house.

The Three Non-Songs That Should Be Part of Hold Music Rotations.

What else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For this section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that I would  always enjoy listening to as I am stuck in hold purgatory.


1. “I’m A God” speech by Bill Murray from “Groundhog Day.”  You know that scene late in the movie, not far from the start of the third act, where Bill Murray’s character has hit the peak of frustration over the endless loop his life has become in Punxatawny, PA, and starts to tell Andie MacDowell’s character about all the people in the diner and then tells her about herself (“You like boats, but not the ocean…”)? Could somebody play that when I’m on hold so I could listen to that instead yet another rendition of “God Didn’t Make Little Green Apples”?  Please?


2. “Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?”  In 1994, the Cleveland Indians fell behind 2-0 in the American League Championship Series on the road to the Seattle Mariners.  With the series coming to Cleveland, the Indians management played this speech from “Animal House” to the crowd at Jacobs Field in Cleveland prior to the national anthem to get the crowd pumped up.  In it, John Belushi tries to motivate his defeated fraternity brothers.  Let’s face facts, here.  If you’re on hold, it’s not because you’re awaiting good news.  You’re probably feeling a bit blue and tense and overwhelmed.  You need some Bluto, my friend.  What is called for here is that a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.


3. “You Were Born to Be Hockey Players, Every One of You.”  Probably the greatest locker room speech of all time — and the best part is that it actually happened.  Just before the US-USSR hockey game in the 1980 Olympics, the US coach Herb Brooks (played here by Kurt Russell doing a perfect St. Paul accent), tells his players they have a shot against the greatest hockey team in the world.  I could listen to this over and over while I’m on hold with my bank as I ask them to reconsider the overdraft charges they stuck me with.

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 .

UberConference is now available directly from the Google Apps Admin console which is part of the improvements that were included with the Google Apps Marketplace launch today.

In the updated Google Apps Marketplace experience, Google Apps admins can now find and install third-party apps right from their Google Apps Admin console without a separate authentication process.  They can also easily manage permissions from the console.

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UberConference is proud to be in the first batch of apps available directly via the Admin console.

This continues a tradition of firsts for UberConference: 1st Chrome Installable apps1st HD audio conference service and 1st calling service powered by the new HTML-5 standard WebRTC!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 .

The-School-of-Athens-by-Raphael

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” –Aristotle, “The Politics”

When you sit down and think about it, many of the greatest accomplishments of the human race are collaborative efforts. The cathedrals of medieval France. MGM musicals like “Singing in the Rain” or “Royal Wedding”. Democracy. The Renaissance. A double double cheeseburger with fries from In ‘N Out Burger.

These are things that could only have been created by a group effort – human beings working together.

Why?  Because we are, as Aristotle observed more than 2,300 years ago, social animals. We live a common life together.

So if we live a common life together and are, at heart, social animals; why do so many teleconferences not work? What, exactly, causes them to be disappointing? I think I can confidently state that it is not because we are either beasts nor gods.

What causes many teleconferences to fail is a combination of inefficient technology and basic human politeness. These are what I call “the pain points of teleconferencing.” And they are solvable problems.

1. Set an agenda. Stick to it.

Unless the teleconference is between NFL owners, nobody gets to talk about the Super Bowl.

Before your next teleconference, send out an agenda to everyone. These are the items we will be discussing, and this is the order in which we’ll be discussing them. People are busy, and while your teleconference may in fact be the most important part of their work day, it is not the only part of their work day. Nothing kills a teleconference quicker than desultory talk about the weather, the latest flu outbreak or last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. We all have other things to do today besides chit-chat right now. Stay on point, stick to the agenda, finish the call.

2. People are going to arrive late. Deal with it.

It’s just going to happen: people are going to show up late. They’ll have a million good reasons. We don’t need to hear them. We also don’t need to recap what’s been discussed already.

Think of it this way: somebody shows up late to Mass. The priest doesn’t stop the proceedings, introduce everyone, and then recap what’s happened so far. No. If you show up late, you check where in the liturgy (agenda) we are, listen in and catch up on your own.

There’s no reason a teleconference can’t operate that way either.

3. Use technology that works.

Teleconferencing technology should do the following:

– allow automatic sharing of documents during the call

– visual identification of who is speaking and participating

– late entrants can join without interrupting — or stopping — the call

If your teleconferencing system can’t do these things, your calls are going to be less effective, more painful for the callers, and, ultimately less collaborative.

We’re human beings. We’re social animals. We’re working on a problem together. Any technology you are using that disrupts collaborative work is anti-social and goes counter to who we are in our essence.