If you are an organisation which regularly uses audio conferencing, chances are that you use a conferencing service provider (CSP).

If your organisation was one of the smart companies who realised the business benefits which audio conferencing delivers: improved productivity, efficiency, reduction of operating costs, then it is likely that you have been deploying audio conferencing as a crucial business communications tool for several years. It is also probable that you have been using the same CSP for all of this time.

The conferencing market has evolved over the last three to five years. We are now looking at a conferencing and collaboration marketplace which delivers integrated solutions that allow you to not only hear all of the participants in a ‘virtual’ meeting via an audio conference, but also to share information (spreadsheets, presentations, sales forecasts, etc.,) just as if everyone was sitting around the same meeting room table, via web conferencing.

So is your CSP delivering the services that meet today’s business communications needs of your business? Are you for example, taking advantage of the now basic features of integrated audio and web conferencing services?

Can you begin a virtual meeting using audio conferencing, and then as the dynamics of the meeting change and there is a need to share data, turn the audio conference into a collaboration session by quickly and easily accessing a web conferencing application?

Or are you, when the need arises, having to e-mail information that you need to share to all of the participants of your virtual meeting, and then having to wait until each confirms they have the data?

One of the key advantages of web conferencing is that you can be sure that all of the participants are looking at the same page of a document or the same slide of a presentation. How many times have you struggled during a virtual meeting with information which has been e-mailed to you, or which you have e-mailed to the participants, to make sure that everyone is looking at the same page at the same time?

Today, more than ever before, we all expect to do ‘things’ on line. It is now second nature to carry out banking, order our groceries, order our clothes, etc., online. This expectation now extends to our working lives.

So has your CSP evolved to meet these changing demands? Does the ease of use and ‘self-service’ functionality of its conferencing and collaboration services match the standard of those offered by CSPs who constantly strive to set the highest levels within the marketplace?

For example does your CSP deliver a conferencing and collaboration portal which enables you to quickly plan, activate, monitor, manage and control your integrated conferencing and collaboration sessions with a few simple mouse clicks?

Does your CSP offer online functionality which allows you to quickly view participant names, e-mail addresses and company names, record the conference, lock conference and collaboration sessions, switch to screen sharing or presentation mode, mute and un-mute participants, hold group or one-to-one chat sessions via an Instant Messaging function, hold Q&A sessions and much more?

What about your incumbent CSP’s billing system? Has that evolved to meet your demands? Or are you still receiving monthly invoices in the form of a large ‘wad’ of paper from which it is hard to ascertain which conference calls took place when, who participated and who should pick up the cost?

Or does your CSP provide you with access to your billing details via a conferencing and collaboration portal which enables you to accurately monitor and manage your conferencing and collaboration costs from department level down to individual users at any given time?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, perhaps you should be transferring your conferencing and collaboration business to a CSP who can deliver!