The way we do business today has changed dramatically. Companies large and small are continuing to find ways to scale back on expenses while remaining competitive in this global marketplace. More companies have discovered conferencing software as an effective means of communicating not only within the organization but also with customers, vendors and strategic partners. Both VoIP conferencing and telephone conferencing allow participants to engage without spending time and money on travel related expenses. While similar, let’s explore the features and differences between the two options.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VoIP and TELEPHONE CONFERENCING
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. With a VoIP setup, conferencing software must be installed on either a computer or a mobile phone, and an Internet connection must be present. It’s important to note, though, that some VoIP conferencing providers allow participants to join the meeting by simply using a telephone. (This option, however, is not always the most reliable.) VoIP software is usually downloaded onto the computer, and calls are achieved using your computer’s built-in audio system along with a simple, inexpensive headset microphone.
Telephone conferencing, however, is achieved through any standard telephone line. Telephone conferencing requires a subscription to a conferencing service provider. Costs vary for these subscriptions with some service providers offering free services (but the free services are, in most cases, limited to domestic calls only). With telephone conferencing, there is no special equipment required unless participants in one location prefer to meet using a special conference phone for meeting rooms.
So, now that we’ve covered their features, let’s take a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks.
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS
The world is shrinking as businesses compete globally. One of the biggest benefits any conferencing software provides is the ability to contact anyone, anywhere in the world, in a professional and effective manner. VoIP software has become increasingly popular among individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses because the technology allows you to contact anyone with an Internet connection, regardless of location. Calls–including international calls–are often free, but depending on the service provider and features you choose, there could be a nominal charge. With telephone conferencing, standard international rates apply.
Both VoIP and telephone conferencing offer participants the ability to record calls–a highly important feature, especially for businesses. Telephone conferencing offers the facilitator operator assistance as well as full conference call management (for a fee, of course). With VoIP, extra features are usually achieved by the meeting’s facilitator.
Telephone conferencing software works, regardless of your telecommunications service provider or the type of phone equipment you prefer. Not so with VoIP software. While the technology is improving, some VoIP software providers only provide service to members of their software network, denying service to users of competing services.
While both have significant benefits for companies of all sizes, VoIP’s biggest advantage over telephone conferencing is cost. It is by far the less expensive option, both in installation and in usage. Its biggest drawback: security. And hackers have taken note.
USES IN BUSINESS
Conferencing has allowed for increased productivity and reduced meeting expenses, especially when meeting participants are not located near one another. The ability to record meetings is essential for businesses that often need to save pertinent information for project management purposes. Traditional corporations have long used some form of telephone conferencing services, and therefore generally prefer this option. However, media outlets have embraced VoIP technology such as Skype for video conferencing from remote locations. Entrepreneurs, sales organizations and companies with employees or customers in remote locations enjoy the portability (VoIP can be used on smartphones) and convenience VoIP software provides.
No matter what type of business you have, you can’t go wrong in this marketplace with either conferencing option.