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Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing Has 16 Dimensions Of Productivity

Columbus, Ohio (October 17, 2013) — An effective conference call is like any other meeting-to be professional and respectful of the participants' time; it needs good preparation, solid execution and timely follow-up.

Historically, conference calls had to be organized around the limitations of audio conferencing technology. Traditional Ma Bell simply gave you a dial-in number and a PIN, and the bill arrived a month later. You were on your own for all other organizational aspects of your call. This meant that conference calls were always cumbersome.

Web 2.0 audio conferencing
changes the playing field

A new breed of audio conferencing provider is emerging that moves the ball way down the field. Whereas before you had only 3 dimensions of services, Web 2.0 audio conferencing provides at least 16 dimensions of service.

16 dimensions of productivity

The following chart shows how Web 2.0 audio conferencing adds at least 13 dimensions of productivity to the 3 dimensions of same-old-same-old audio conferencing. With these added dimensions at your fingertips, you can simultaneously reduce your direct and indirect costs while increasing your call productivity. Remember, the cost of Web 2.0 audio conferencing minutes is a drop in the bucket compared to wasted wages, salaries and benefits plus added travel, meals and lodging costs associated with unnecessary travel.

16 Dimensions of Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing Table

Web 2.0 audio conferencing productivity numbers are compelling

People-time is by far the main cost of a conference call. For example, 15 employees @ $25.00 per hour on a call for 60 minutes costs you $375.00 or $6.25 per minute. At say 10 cents per minute per participant, the actual cost of the call was $90.00 total. If this conference call started just 15 minutes late waiting for stragglers, you wasted $93.75 in people-cost. With Web 2.0, you could have direct dialed the stragglers immediately. Using the direct dial feature alone to connect the stragglers would have saved more than the total cost of the conference call!

The efficiencies and effectiveness of Web 2.0 audio conferencing don't stop there.

BEFORE a conference call

Web 2.0 opens new opportunities to save you time in arranging a conference call (see Chart No. 1-5). In the old days you received a PIN and dial in number from Ma Bell. A Web 2.0 service streamlines the call setup process dramatically with an array of features for privacy, scheduling, communicating with participants, calendaring, and presentation aids.

DURING a conference call

Historically, you paid for an operator to sit on your call. The only innovation here was that you were given those basic call controls to initiate from your phone. With Web 2.0, you have powerful new call features like Call Now and Group Dial that eliminate the need to have the host schedule a call and send out PINs altogether. Also during a call you can automatically start recording, if needed, and even order a transcription. Powerful web console features even allow you to monitor and control the call right from your computer, while the system manages highly complex wired, wireless and VoIP connections seamlessly in the background. This means you can see exactly who is on the call, lock out any new participants, and thus assure no interlopers are present.

AFTER a conference call

Good follow up is essential to effective conference calling. Back in the day, you received an invoice a month or so later with the audio conferencing portion buried in the bill. That was the extent of the post-call "support." With Web 2.0 you get an array of productivity tools from real-time call history information and instant email reports to MP3 recordings, transcriptions, billing spreadsheets and call lists for immediate follow up.  

16 dimensions of benefits are replacing 3-dimension same-old-same-old

In short, Web 2.0 audio conferencing is a still-unexplored new world of productivity improvement for large, medium and small businesses alike. Curiously, most 3-dimension conference call users have not yet awakened to 16-dimension Web 2.0 audio conferencing whose providers have successfully automated and integrated many previously unconnected activities, put them on the web, and are now placing them on your mobile phone.

Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing Has 16 Dimensions Of Productivity (HTML)

Managing Your Audio Conferencing - Penny Wise and Dollar Foolish?

Columbus, Ohio (October 6, 2013)

Don't let the productivity-killer sirens lure you to the "free" and "cheap" shores of unintended consequences

The devil is in the details with regard to managing enterprise audio conferencing. Conventional wisdom says belt-tightening is a good thing, and when an employee comes to a CFO with "cost savings," he is often named "employee of the month." So, when an employee proposes to cut the budget by using a "free" or cut-rate service, it sounds great on the surface. However, a closer look reveals such proposals to be Neanderthal. They're two steps backward instead of one step forward. You get what you pay for. If you are not willing to pay anything, such unwillingness creates a ripple effect of unintended consequences. Do not be lured to the "free" and "cheap" shores.
Are your audio conferencing managers penny wise and dollar foolish? Illustration source: www.CartoonStock.com
Where's the wisdom in saving $6.00 to lose $500.00?

Enterprise productivity suffers dramatically when one selects same-old-same-old audio conferencing services. The "savings" in cost of minutes is insignificant compared to the cost of the participant's wasted time. Think about it. How often have you had to wait on stragglers to join a conference call before you could start? Multiply that time by the number of participants. An hour of lost productivity adds up quickly.

What does a fully-loaded hour of executive time cost? The number is typically $200-500+ per hour. As an example, we'll say there were 10 executives who waited 6 minutes for a call to start. That generated 60 minutes of wasted time. Those 60 minutes cost $200-500 in lost productivity. At 10 cents a minute per participant, the minutes cost the company $6.00. So, your Neanderthal decision to cut cost with a free audio conferencing service means this: you saved $6.00 to lose $200.00-500.00 in lost productivity for every lost executive-hour.

Now compare the previous scenario using Web 2.0 audio conferencing where chronic stragglers are simply dialed automatically by the system. No waiting. No lost productivity.

You get what you pay for

Web 2.0 audio conferencing should not be free. It should be economical and good value, but "free" or bargain basement should not be your audio conferencing budgeting goal. With audio conferencing the maxim is true: you get what you pay for. Recognize that the free and cheap services are wringing every last minute out of old, out-dated equipment and cannot possibly be investing in forward-looking research and development. Such Web 2.0 research and development is vital to helping customers improve their productivity.

True audio conferencing stories

Not convinced? Here are several true stories.

One company staffs administrators who manage corporate communications. All conference calls must be approved by these individuals, who leave promptly at 5:00 PM. Their sales organization often deals with customer issues after hours when the customers are available at home. To make the situation more cumbersome, when a sales executive needs a conference call PIN, he or she must request one from an operator who always quizzes the executive on the purpose, time, length and number of participants. The logic of this procedure is "to keep audio conferencing costs down."

The real cost is a corporate culture that avoids the operator-Nazis and conducts more face-to-face meetings instead. Such unnecessary meetings drive up the actual cost enormously, but these direct costs are never reflected in the communications budget. Instead they are "hidden" in wage, salary and benefits as well as travel, meals and lodging. Executives in this organization will oftentimes drive two or three hours to have a meeting in order to avoid the operators in lieu of picking up the phone and having an hour conference call.

Another law firm in a major city needs to conduct a Saturday conference call with the partners. To "save costs" they only use their internal phone system for conference calls. This system can only handle six participants without diminishing call-quality, so they bridge two 6-line conferences together to handle twelve participants. The set up consumes significant staff time.

However, since the legal assistants don't work on weekends, no one is in the office to set up the call. So instead of just using a Web 2.0 audio conferencing provider to get everyone on a call quickly, these partners get in their cars and drive downtown to meet! One hour into the office, one hour home. Twelve partners. That's 24 partner-hours consumed on a Saturday morning in addition to the hour they meet. All that cost to save a dime per minute per participant invested in a Web 2.0 audio conferencing service.

Web 2.0 vs. same-old-same-old audio conferencing

Let's say for argument's sake that you are now convinced that you no longer wish to be a Neanderthal. You then need to evaluate the audio conferencing landscape, which is divided into two groups: (1) same-old-same-old services that have seen no innovation in over a decade and (2) Web 2.0 audio conferencing services.

In the same-old-same-old camp you have "free" and "cheap" providers who are simply repackaging old solutions and giving you no innovations. Take a closer look instead at the new generation of Web 2.0 audio conferencing services that offer a range of value-added productivity services at reasonable prices: features like group dial; on the fly dialing; web console account management; real-time billing and call history; and full customer service.

Don't short-change your enterprise productivity

Don't shortchange your productivity with flawed "cost saving" logic. Focus your audio conferencing cost analysis on the productivity gains of your participants, not on the minute costs of your audio conferencing. Otherwise, your audio conferencing decisions will be penny wise and dollar foolish... unless you think you look good in a caveman suit.;-)

Managing Your Audio Conferencing - Penny Wise and Dollar Foolish? (HTML)

What's The Difference Between Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing and Web Conferencing?

Columbus, Ohio (October 1, 2013) — The term "web conferencing" is confusing. Most technology people know what it means, but the average user does not. Users generally understand "conferencing," but the "web" adjective is confusing because the "web" is a complex and ever-changing subject. It has gotten even more confusing with the advent of telephone over Internet, also called "voice over Internet protocol" or "VoIP."  Adding further to this confusion are current "free conferencing" offers that might lead one to believe that the technology is so simple that it can be given away. This could not be further from the truth, now and into the foreseeable future.
Conferencing over routers vs. wires

Historically, all our communications tools worked independently of one another and they relied on dedicated networks. Ever so slowly, this autonomy began to change. We started sending fax messages over voice phone lines, then began interconnecting  websites. Those technologies used the traditional phone networks that connected phones with wires. Eventually a different way to switch these signals emerged, one that used "data packets" and "routers." This network technology theoretically allowed any kind of data (fax, voice, files) to be transmitted over the same network. Slowly, various communications technologies are migrating to this packet approach, which opens many new possibilities for the devices that connect to the network.

Convergence is the coming together of previously disconnected technologies

Phones can now take on web functions and vice versa. Data files can include voice, fax, video and images in the same transmission. This is sometimes called "convergence."

Web 2.0 audio conferencing bridges the best of phone and data

Web 2.0 audio conferencing describes a new generation of these converged technologies specifically associated with audio conferencing. In this brave new technology world, audio conferencing presents unique technical challenges that only a handful of companies have addressed to date. Whereas a telephone call is predictable in that two devices connect and two people talk, a conference call may have 3 people or 300 people on the same call. The technical challenges between 3 and 300 are formidable; it is exponentially easier to connect 3 people than 300. For example, 300 people have 300 different end-point devices, 300 different network connections and 300 different participants. These 300 people expect to dial a number and have the system work just the same as if they were calling their neighbors--same clarity, same quality, same reliability.

Web 2.0 audio conferencing differs from same-old-same-old traditional audio conferencing by enabling numerous "cross-over" capabilities like monitoring and control of the call over the web, real-time call history and billing over the web, management of multiple PINs and multiple accounts from mobile phones, and initiating group calls instantly, to name just a few.

Compare the technologies for an audio conference and a web conference

Now let’s compare Web 2.0 audio conferencing with a 300-person "web conference." An audio conference is keeping 300 telephone devices in synch, and a "web conference" is keeping 300 web pages viewing the same thing, but the differences between a phone conference and web conference are striking. A phone conference must be "in synch," or in other words, everyone needs to hear the same thing at the same time. A web conference by contrast works to keep 300 views of the host’s presentation in more or less close synch. Full synching in a web conference is impossible when one considers that one participant may be on a slow dial-up connection and another may be sitting on a  high-speed broadband connection.

Audio conferencing needs real-time voice synch; Web conferencing pushes sorta-synched computer screens

Most web conferencing providers are attempting voice over Internet connections to broadcast voice and video simultaneously, but the out-of-synch problems relating to those 300 web connections makes the voice part unworkable. The fact is, web conferencing providers use separate audio conferencing providers, even if that is not obvious to the customer. The real-time synching demands of voice vs. the less-critical need for such real time synching when pushing web page views of a presentation make Web 2.0 audio conferencing and web conferencing very different, but related challenges.

Both technologies support "conferencing," but the underlying technology needs and expertise are apples and oranges. When users pick up the phone, they expect dial tone. When users go on the web, reliability is hit or miss. One never knows when the tech department or the local Internet Service Provider may decide to take down the network for an upgrade! When a user joins a phone conference, they expect a real time synch as if everyone is in the same room. When a user joins a web conference, the time it takes to get a particular presentation slide is not as critical as hearing what the presenter is saying and being able to respond in real time.

Web 2.0 audio conferencing bridges voice and data without forcing the participants to get in front of a computer for every conference

We are visual creatures, so web conferencing is here to stay. That said, many, maybe even most phone conversations needn’t include what is sometimes dubbed a "death by PowerPoint" presentation.  Web 2.0 audio conferencing fills the gap between traditional audio conferencing and web conferencing for most applications. It brings the best of the web to audio conferencing without burdening every conference with the need to watch something online, or forcing a participant to sit in front of a video camera without moving for fear the other participants will think he is not paying rapt attention as the presenter drones on (!)

Web 2.0 liberation vs. mandatory operator assistance and good-luck-you're on-your-own "free conference calls"

Audio conferencing, done right, should work as effortlessly as picking up your phone. The differences end there! Bridging a 300-person audio conference and making sure everyone hears the same thing at high quality requires specialized technologies managed by people who know what they are doing. Web 2.0 audio conferencing liberates the user from the need to call an operator on every call. It also enhances the user experience well beyond the same-old-same old limited features set of the past. It takes much of the technical knowledge, automates it, and puts it in the user’s hands. Web designers don’t have this knowledge. Software programmers building nice web pages don’t have this knowledge either; neither do web conferencing providers and "free conference call" providers. Web 2.0 audio conferencing providers, by contrast, have programmed this telephone knowledge into their offerings.

Anchor vs. color commentator

Think of the two technologies this way. Web 2.0 audio conferencing is your anchorperson in sports broadcasting and web conferencing is the color commentator. Users will need both as convergence continues to bring the telephony and data worlds closer together, but of the two, Web 2.0 audio conferencing will be your anchor "must have" communications tool.

What's The Difference Between Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing and Web Conferencing? (HTML)

Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing as a Speaker/Educator Medium

The reach, efficiencies and benefits are quickly achievable

Columbus, Ohio (September 27, 2013) — Our virtual society opens new opportunities for speakers and educators with audio conferencing-based program technology.

Back in the day, if one wished to promote a speaker or educator topic, one had to get people together physically. This meant booking the speaker, booking a venue, arranging refreshments or meals, sending invitations, gathering sign-ups, sending reminders, organizing site presentation requirements like flip chart, projector, handouts, setting aside the time, traveling to the venue, setting up, greeting participants, then making your presentation. Whew. Such events, done right, are a lot of work and often quite expensive. A hotel room can cost you $250-1,000 per day. Refreshments are usually $15+ per participant. Handouts cost you 10 cents a page. Projector and screen rental can set you back $250 per day. Speakers for these kinds of venues typically cost you anywhere from $400 to $5,000, or more.

In today's fast-paced social and business climate, convincing prospective participants to set aside a whole day for a seminar is challenging. It is also expensive and time-consuming. Consider interspersing your face-to-face programs with audio conferencing-based programs instead. Here are some of the key attributes of an audio conferencing-based program.

Characteristics of an audio conferencing-based program:

  1.   1. 1-2 hours max.; covers key learning topics with 20 minutes for Q&A
  2.   2. Lecture Mode
  3.   3. Record
  4.   4. Web conferencing for real-time whiteboard, if needed
  5.   5. Email handouts

The benefits of an audio conferencing-based program are many:

  1.   1. Participants are more likely to attend because: (a) Doesn't consume a whole day, (b) Nobody
          sees participants in their PJs, (c) Participants are not desk or chair-bound and (d) Participants
          can even be traveling
  2.   2. Lecturer isn't consuming a whole day; likely to charge less
  3.   3. Cost savings allows for a more experienced lecturer
  4.   4. Lecturer does not have to travel
  5.   5. No lecturer hotel and lodging costs
  6.   6. No venue costs
  7.   7. No copying costs
  8.   8. No audio-visual costs
  9.   9. Better use of everyone's time
  10. 10. No travel time for participant
  11. 11. More topics can be offered more often
  12. 12. More contact-time with constituents
  13. 13. Recording can be replayed

For years pundits thought that video/web conferencing would replace audio conferencing since it was more visual. However, audio conferencing has been found to be more useful in many settings. Most conference calls do not need the ever-present visual push. Web conferencing has proved to be perennially fiddly with set up configuration hassles on local computers. In addition, with video/web conferencing participants are "locked in their chairs" in front of their computer cameras. As a result, web conferencing is more useful to desk-bound, large-company users who do a lot of them, whose machines have already jumped through the configuration setup hoops, and who have comfortable chairs. Conferences with live video essentially demand that you stay in front of your camera the entire time; otherwise, people wonder if you are paying attention!

The telephone is the most convenient and universal technology tool on the planet, by far. Why not take advantage of its reach and convenience to extend your speaker-education with audio conferencing-based programs?

Participants in your programs won't get antsy, the fidgety-types can move around all they want, your costs are a fraction of your typical program costs, you can extend your constituency nationally and internationally. Bottom line, audio conferencing-based programs dramatically reduce the boundaries to getting your message out. It costs only pennies to try it. Compare the traditional program described earlier for, say 15 participants for 2 hours, with an audio conferencing-based program, without including the speaker fee.

Traditional Program Costs:

  • • Venue - $500
  • • Refreshments - $225
  • • Handouts (25 pages) - $37.50
  • • Flip Chart - $50
  • • Projector - $250
  • • Mailings - $35
  • • TOTAL = $1,097.50

Audio Conferencing-based Program Costs

  • • Minutes (@10 cents a minute) - $180 - a 609% savings

Only a handful of truly Web 2.0 audio conferencing providers exist. Find one and try them. Start with short programs, then expand your repertoire as you become experienced.

Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing as a Speaker/Educator Medium (HTML)

Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing - An Essential Disaster Management Tool

Columbus, Ohio (September 21, 2013) — My company, Leader Technologies, provided the only working first responder communication system during the months after Hurricane Katrina. This bird's eye view of the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States taught us many important lessons. If we learn these lessons, then perhaps we can lessen the suffering and loss of life in future disasters. We were somewhat surprised at how central a role audio conferencing played in large-scale disaster response collaboration. Click Heroes in the Storm below to read a white paper on the State of Louisiana's use of audio conferencing to manage Hurricane Katrina lifesaving and disaster response.

Audio conferencing always has been and may always be the go-to disaster voice communications tool of choice. The phone is the most ubiquitous piece of communications technology on the planet. No other type of voice communications system can handle large numbers of people at one time. In an emergency situation, these may be people who don't know each other, but must come together for a common purpose: save lives and fix problems. Further, audio conferencing systems are designed to handle communications on different scales: from just a few people to hundreds and thousands of people at once. What should a first responder, political leader or concerned citizen look for in selecting an audio conferencing provider capable of being there for them in a crisis? Here's a short checklist:

  1. 1. Tested in a Crisis?

    Has the provider proven that its services can handle the stressful rigors of a crisis?

  2. 2. Nodal Technology?

    Your provider needs a federated system, not a centralized one. This way, if one node of the network goes down, then another node can pick up the traffic so that customers will have the systems available to them in their crisis. This was the problem in Louisiana. When the Bell South network was swamped, its limited audio conferencing capabilities were swamped as well.

  3. 3. Call Now Technology?

    Does the provider enable leaders with <em>Call Now </em>technology that gives them ability to select names from their call list and "blast dial" all of them simultaneously from a mobile device? In a crisis, you often don't have the luxury of time to schedule a conference call when people are dying and seconds are precious.

  4. 4. Emergency Alerts with Audio Conference Trail?

    Does your provider allow you to broadcast an alert with a live recorded message from you that gives the recipients the option to enter a follow-on (trailer) conference call so you can answer questions and give further information?

  5. 5. Recording and Posting Online?

    Does your provider allow you to record a conference call on the fly and then automatically post those recordings online, or let people dial in to listen to them later? Disaster response is unpredictable. First responders may be called upon at a moment's notice to rescue a family off a roof or from the rubble of their collapsed building. When this happens those first responders cannot call in to the nightly conference call to get status updates. Recorded calls let them dial in and listen to the reports at their leisure, or listen to the recordings online. This proved to be a crucial capability during Hurricane Katrina. These recordings also memorialize the initiatives taken during the crisis for post-crisis review.

  6. 6. Expert Assistance?

    Does your provider answer your questions competently and quickly on the first call, or do you get passed around to new people reading from a canned script each and every time you call in? Do your answers come from operators in far off countries? This kind of assistance may be acceptable for certain kinds of help, but not for disaster management when people's lives are on the line. Ask if your provider has experience supporting disaster management. If not, find a new provider.

The lessons from disasters dictate a new kind of Web 2.0 audio conferencing capability that empowers mobile command centers with Call Now features from mobile phones. Phones have been the go-to communications tool of choice in every major disaster in recent years. That is unlikely to change. To handle disasters and emergencies, these phone systems need to be fused with data systems. That is what Web 2.0 audio conferencing is all about.

Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing - An Essential Disaster Management Tool (HTML)

Audio Conferencing - Become a Web 2.0 Power User

Wake up people. It's the 21st century!

Columbus, Ohio (September 20, 2013) — Audio conferencing is experiencing a renaissance in new technologies, especially for medium and small business. Teleconferencing has traditionally been the domain of Fortune 500 companies for one simple reason - Ma Bell managed it from large call centers dedicated to supporting its large customers. The features offered were minimal - a phone number and PIN and a few basic handset controls. After AT&T's break-up, the Baby Bells copied these services and invested little in R&D improvements.

This is when entrepreneurial companies rolled up their sleeves and started introducing Web 2.0 audio conferencing with an array of new productivity features. You really don't have to settle for the same-old-same-old tired services of the past. You can do better. Here is a list of things that new Web 2.0 audio conferencing providers are offering.

  1. 1. Web Console — Manage your calls and your account right from the web. This feature replaces the
        maddening calls to the operator and prevents your call being passed around endlessly from one
        operator to another. Be careful though. Some vendors with the old technology are trying to polish
        their image by adding a few web pages to their sites. What separates the men from the boys is
        whether you can actually manage the call from the web console. If you can't, find a new provider.

  2. 2. Conference Call Security — Not all conference calls are alike. Some don't need privacy, other do.
        You should have options and the new services deliver them. For example, call lockout
        prevents new participants from joining a call if everyone is already present. One
        of the big security problems with same-old-same-old services is that the PIN becomes
        insecure over time. Unauthorized people obtain it. This means interlopers can secretly listen in.
        Call lockout helps prevent this.

  3. 3. Multiple PINs — The new services allow you to manage as many PINs as you wish on your
        account.Gone are the days of having only one PIN. For example, you can issue separate PINs for
        each of your stakeholder groups like Board of Directors, staff, sales, engineering, etc. This way
        need-to-know discussions are kept private, and Joe in engineering can't get into your Board of
        Directors policy discussions regarding R&D.

  4. 4. Call Now / Star*1 / Invite Now — Setting up a conference call has been tedious. One must provide
        a PIN and dial-in number, contact the participants about a time, and then wait for stragglers at the
        call time, and call additional people on the side after the call has started. It's a hassle. Web 2.0
        audio conferencing automates these processes. Call Now lets you pick from a list and tap Call
        Now. Voila! Everyone is on the call. No PINs. No Dial-in numbers. Star*1 lets you add new
        participants after a call starts without interrupting the conversation. Invite Now automates the
        process of notifying participants of a future time and date. If all these services are not included
        with your provider, find a new provider

  5. 5. Advanced Controls — Audio conference calls are quite technologically advanced behind the
        scenes with features like noise suppression, latency compensation and the like. Newer services
        include human answer detection, group volume control and nice education-related features like
        lecture mode, which mutes all participants except the host. Lecture mode allows you as the host to
        get everyone on a call--for example, an online learning classroom--then go into lecture mode so
        that the call doesn't experience dogs barking, babies crying and dishes clanking in the
        background. A common occurrence in such settings is the battery dying on a wireless home
        phone, which introduces static that everyone hears. Lecture mode eliminates such distracting
        background noise.

If your current audio conferencing provider does not offer all or most of the features listed above, they're not Web 2.0. What does that mean? It is the convergence of the best of the telephone world with the best of the data world. Those were separate in the past. Audio conferencing is a rich environment that needs specialists; not telephone people who dabble in web-based systems or data programmers who dabble in VoIP phone technologies. Web 2.0 audio conferencing providers do both well. Find them.

Audio Conferencing - Become a Web 2.0 Power User (HTML)

A Populist Revolution In Audio Conferencing

Columbus, Ohio (September 9, 2013) — Until recently "innovation" was not a word associated with audio conferencing. It has seen very little change since its introduction in the 1980's because Ma Bell had it tucked away in its far-flung call centers. Just enough engineering was done to offer some basic services, but everything else was done manually and users paid a premium. As a result, medium and small businesses rarely used it. The good news emerging from this bleak history is that a populist revolution has begun.

As the decades rolled, Ma Bell's austere audio conferencing services conditioned users to have low expectations. When AT&T was divested in the mid-1980's the Baby Bells repeated the practices with very few changes other than reservation-less conferencing which issued a permanent call in PIN and 800 number. The current fare of services has not progressed from here.

The crazy thing about this circumstance is that us generally demanding consumers stopped asking long ago if audio conferencing could do better. We had been so beaten down by Ma Bell's drill sergeants that we simply got in line, cup in hand.

Audio conferencing has never had a technology champion. The market leader historically was the lethargic AT&T whose once innovative Bell Labs dabbled with web technologies and then broke apart. The Baby Bells carried on this tradition. Therefore, the industry has never had an innovative advocate. A new breed of entrepreneurial innovators is beginning a populist revolution.

The cornerstone of innovation is being able to deliver more services at less cost. The convergence of phone and web technologies enables a richer user experience. However, this convergence is easier with two-way phone calls, but much more complicated with audio conferencing. Each audio conference is unique. One conference call may have 10 participants while the next one has 400. Regular phone switches and Internet routers cannot "bridge" such calls. This requires specialized audio conferencing technologies.

Web 2.0 audio conferencing has finally brought the benefits of web-based services. In contrast to same-old-same-old, these services enable such features as:

  1. Group Call - With one tap on your iPhone calling 10, 50 or 100 people at once without having to notify them, send a PIN and dial in number, set a time, wait for stragglers, etc.

  2. Add Participants "On the fly" - Adding additional participants while a conference call is in progress without interrupting the conversation.

  3. Record - Getting an MP3 recording of your weekly sales training to provide to new hires.

  4. Web Console - Web controls for online contact lists, monitoring calls, video training, help, technical support, account and billing details.

  5. Security & Privacy - Ability to select easily the right privacy level to prevent interlopers on important calls, or where privacy rules demand it (like HIPAA).

None of the features above were available with traditional services. Why? It's the nature of the technologies. Traditional phones are about connecting wires with switches. Web technologies are about managing "data packets" passing through routers. Also, traditional phones networks are government regulated whereas Internet systems are not. All these differences make for technologies that were apples and oranges historically. None of the big players were investing in audio conferencing R&D until intrepid entrepreneurs started looking at this communications problem in the late 1990's.

Web 2.0 audio conferencing blends the best of both worlds. However, be aware that many same-old-same-old audio conferencing providers are erecting websites in front of their traditional, aging boxes, pretending to be web-i-fied, and luring you with all sorts of "bait-and-switch" bargains. Cheap is not beneficial if it hurts your productivity and that of the people you want to bring together. People-time cost is your greatest expense, not the small cost of your audio conferencing minutes. Invest in your productivity. Being forewarned is forearmed.

To learn more, Google "Web 2.0 audio conferencing".

A Populist Revolution In Audio Conferencing (HTML)

Audio Conferencing - Web 2.0 Pizzazz Vs Same-Old-Same-Old

Columbus, Ohio (September 6, 2013) — What do you need to know about Web 2.0 audio conferencing? How is it different than your crusty old dial-in number a PIN you've been carrying around in your wallet or purse?

Traditional services lack innovation Audio conferencing has seen little innovation since its emergence in the 1980's. It started as a part of an AT&T operator call center and you paid $1 per minute per participant. It had basic features and rules rigid. After your allotted time you were cut off. You were charged extra for everything like operator fees, late fees, no-show fees and cancellation fees. Put bluntly, traditional services were as mean as a drill sergeant. After AT&T divestiture in the mid-1980's "reservation-less" technology emerged to give the emergent Baby Bells basic services. These technologies are still with us. The innovation with reservationless was the ability to use the same PIN for multiple calls without having to schedule each call through an operator.

Blends the best of the phone & data worlds "Web 2.0 audio conferencing" is an emerging industry that describes a new breed of technology that's breathing new life into a stodgy yet much needed business service. Traditional services, or same-old-same-old conferencing, connected phone wires together. The new services blend traditional phone technologies with the new breed of web-based technologies, like the i-Phone® and Blackberry® to offer new features and functions that make the user experience more effective... and maybe even more fun, too. Ease-of-use, convenience, more features and higher quality at lower costs are its calling card.

Web 2.0 feature power is finally here This new audio conferencing technology blends the best of the phone and web worlds. For example, say you need to get your work team together right now to handle an emergency. Now you can simply tap your group list and voile! You are all on the phone. No more slogging through the process of sending everyone an email, waiting for confirmations, starting the call, waiting for stragglers. Those cumbersome barriers to greater efficiency are removed. Such capabilities were impossible with same-old-same old audio conferencing, but today they're simple to accomplish and generate powerful results.

Special Note: Web 2.0 audio conferencing and "web conferencing" are not the same. Web conferencing enables the broadcast of a computer screen view, like a PowerPoint slide to participants. Audio conferencing manages the phone connections. Sometimes the two technologies are used together. More often than not however, audio conferencing is used since it doesn't require everyone to be in front of a computer each time.

To learn more, Google "Web 2.0 audio conferencing".

Audio Conferencing - Web 2.0 Pizzazz Vs Same-Old-Same-Old (HTML)

Audio Conferencing - Myths & Truths

Columbus, Ohio (September 3, 2013) — Googling "audio conferencing" makes one's head spin. Google dishes up a barrage of offers. How do you determine the service that best meets your needs? Under the adage "knowledge is power," this article examines some audio conferencing myths and truths. Try searching "Web 2.0 audio conferencing"

Myth #1: Some audio conferencing services are free!
Truth: Somebody is paying. Make sure the plug isn't pulled on your call.

How do you hold a "free" supplier accountable? You can't. If you are not being charged for the service, then the supplier is receiving the revenue to run the service in some other way. Audio conferencing platforms have real, ongoing overhead costs that someone is paying for. Before deciding to rely on the services of a "free" supplier, determine their revenue model. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to cancel an important meeting because your "free" supplier decided to go on vacation. Audio conferencing suppliers can offer "free" services for a number of reasons including:

  1. 1. Selling your name to third parties. Ask: What if the name-selling business revenue model fails; is
         reliability important?
  2. 2. Selling advertising. Ask: What if advertising revenues dwindle; will the lights go off at the service?
  3. 3. Getting a sponsor to pay for it because the sponsor receives some other benefit from the vendor.
         Ask: What if the sponsorship drops, where does that leave me?
  4. 4. Hoping you'll upgrade to their value-added services. Ask: Can I benefit from productivity-enhancing
         services? Are cheap and free services actually costing me more in the end anyway?

For business-critical communications, where dropped and poor quality calls mean delayed or canceled meetings, the cost of wasted time is much more costly to your profitability than the cost of the calls.

Myth #2: Your audio conferencing vendor bundles all its services in one price.
Truth: Read the fine print. The devil is in the details.

While this is true with a few vendors, by and large this is not true. Some prominent vendors advertise a low per minute rate, and then require the customer to pay for an operator for calls over 15 people. This sort of "bait-and-switch" tactic means the average rate paid per minute is actually much higher than the "carrot and stick" low rate the customers thought they were paying. Some vendors choose not to play tricks on their customers. Unless you enjoy the bait-and-switch game, you should consider the honest suppliers who truly have one-price rating for their services.

Myth #3: All audio conferencing vendors are alike.
Truth: This used to be true, but not anymore.

In the old days, audio conferencing used to be about connecting wires. Most of the audio conferencing technology still in widespread use today uses this old technology "under the covers." This is the reason features are limited to just one flavor--plain vanilla. That is, you get a call-in PIN and a dial-in number and call at the appointed time. With the advent of the web, new technologies are emerging that marry the best of traditional audio conferencing with new web-based productivity features. These services can make your audio conference calls much more efficient and effective. These are the vendors you should look for. This means sorting through the maze to find them. Try searching "Web 2.0 audio conferencing".

Audio Conferencing - Myths & Truths (HTML)

Ohio Consumers´ Counsel partners with Leader Technologies to provide Web 2.0 voice mail services to Ohioans in the 419 area code

"The OCC is pleased to support this vital new technology for citizens in northwest Ohio and we hope that it can be successfully expanded throughout the state."

Columbus, Ohio (July 21, 2009) — Access to sponsored voice mail services that are no cost to the client is now available to individuals in the 419 area code of northwest Ohio who do not have a telephone because they are without a permanent residence or cannot afford one.

This new service is being made available through the combined efforts of the Office of the Ohio Consumers´ Counsel (OCC), the state residential utility consumer advocate, Leader Technologies Incorporated and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF).

Leader Voice Mail® will enable people without phone service to retrieve messages from a personal telephone number which can be accessed from any touch-tone telephone, including wireless, or by using the Internet.

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Former Marathon Director joins Leader Board

Oil industry executive Riad Yammine brings substantial business experience to the company

Columbus, Ohio (January 16, 2009) — Leader Technologies Chairman Mike McKibben announced today that Riad Yammine, a former executive of Marathon Oil Co., was recently elected to the company´s board of directors. “We are honored and excited that Mr. Yammine will be advising Leader as a board member. He will bring a wealth of experience to the company, including his service as a board member of Marathon Oil Company, and numerous executive positions he held within Marathon and its key subsidiaries." His business philosophy is to "work collaboratively to build a bigger pie. You can´t serve society without a bigger pie, so you create more for everyone... This has worked. I´ve helped build a lot of bigger pies over the years."

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Leader sues Facebook for patent infringement November 19, 2008

Columbus, Ohio (November 19, 2008) — Leader Technologies Incorporated of Columbus, Ohio, announced today that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit* against the social networking company, Facebook, Inc. of Palo Alto, California. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware and alleges that Facebook infringes Leader´s U.S. Patent No. 7,139,761 issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on November 21, 2006. The ´761 Patent generally relates to a method and system for the management and storage of electronic information. Leader seeks damages and an injunction against Facebook for its willful infringement of the ´761 Patent.

Leader Technologies Inc. v. Facebook Inc., 08-CV-862-JJF - U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

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Large Minnesota School District (Roseville) Applauds Alerting System

"Leader´s service is much quicker and more cost effective"

Columbus, Ohio (November 6, 2008) — After using its health and safety alerting system for nine months, Roseville Area Schools, a prominent Minnesota school district comprising more than 6,400 students, has declared Leader Alert® to be a key communications tool for connecting parents, says Leader Technologies Chairman Mike McKibben. Karen Schaub, Director of Community Education and Public Relations for Roseville Area Schools, described how the district utilized the product in a tense situation. "Our middle school used Leader Alert to quickly notify parents of a precautionary lock-down which was put in place to diffuse a potential confrontation by students from another school." Leader Chairman Mike McKibben credits the leadership of Leader´s Minnesota-based sales affiliate, Tyda, with establishing this relationship with the Roseville Area Schools.

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Leader Phone® Call Summary emails now delivered in real time

Call Summary information now posted online and delivered via email automatically

Columbus, Ohio (November 6, 2008) — On Nov. 4, 2008, Leader Phone® customers began receiving Call Summary emails at the end of each audio conference call. The Web 2.0 Call History online also contains this information, but customers have asked to also get this report via email. The Call Summary provides an immediate record of the telephone number for each person who participated in the audio conference and how long each person was on the call, as well as other account management information. Customers like this feature because it allows them to immediately print out the report and place it in their files with other information and notes about the call. Customers also find this feature useful for referencing phone numbers quickly. The Call Summary emails also include a one-line features section that will contain productivity and cost reduction suggestions.

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Central State University chooses Leader Alert®

New Health and Safety Alerting & Collaboration System for Central State University

Columbus, Ohio (October 20, 2008) — Central State University president John W. Garland announced today that the school has chosen Leader Alert®, a health and safety alerting product, for use at its Wilberforce and Dayton, Ohio campuses of more than 2,100 students. According to Garland: "This decision underlines our commitment to our students´ safety in emergency situations." Garland says: "Central State believes that Leader Alert offers peace of mind to parents and students — we know that parents want to be sure that the university is taking all reasonable precautions in emergency situations, and we will now be able to contact all of our students and faculty and staff within minutes."

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Get Green with Leader Phone® Web 2.0 Audio Conferencing

Higher quality and more features at less cost... and it´s green !!!

Columbus, Ohio (July 21, 2008) — Leader Technologies™ announced today its Get Green initiative, which will implement special programs with green non-profits to reduce communication costs and reduce the carbon footprint of participating companies simultaneously.

Chairman Mike McKibben points to Leader Phone® audio conferencing as an obvious way for companies to "get greener." "Our Web 2.0 innovations in phone conferencing have greatly improved calling quality and service while reducing cost."

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Mansfield, Ohio City Schools implement Leader Alert® system-wide

School district offers enhanced security to stakeholders with Leader Alert´s opt-in web portal

Columbus, Ohio (June 25, 2008) — Lloyd D. Martin, superintendent of Mansfield, Ohio City Schools, announced today that the school disctrict has chosen Leader Alert®, a health and safety alerting product, for use in its school district of 4700 students.

Leader Alert®, the creation of Leader Technologies™ of Columbus, Ohio, makes it possible for a school to quickly and simultaneously alert thousands of parents and staff by telephone, texting, and email in case of emergencies ranging from lurking predators to snow days.

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Columbus Regional Airport Authority Enhances Emergency Communications

Westerville-based Leader Technologies™ will provide its innovative Leader Alert® system along with Leader Phone® collaboration services as the needs arise

Columbus, Ohio (June 6, 2008) — The Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) announced today it will use Westerville-based Leader Technologies´ innovative Leader Alert® system to enhance airport security and make possible the simultaneous alerting of all key personnel in case of an emergency. Leader Phone® audio conferencing will supplement the services as required.

According to Public Safety Director Richard Morgan, the Airport Authority saw Leader Alert´s unique Web 2.0 alerting capabilities as a key component in meeting the security needs for Port Columbus, Rickenbacker and Bolton Field airports. CRAA conducted months of testing in various conditions and security scenarios before making its decision.

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Ohio School Boards Association announces Leader Alert® endorsement

Ohio School Boards Association endorses Leader Alert® for its 700 + member districts; Leader Alert® is a sister product to Leader Phone® audio conferencing focusing on safety and security alert notification

Columbus, Ohio (April 28, 2008) — The Ohio School Boards Association announced today its endorsement of Leader Alert, a health and safety alerting product, for the more than 700 Ohio public school districts that comprise its membership. Leader Alert, the creation of Leader Technologies of Columbus, Ohio, makes it possible for a school to quickly and simultaneously alert thousands of parents and staff by telephone, texting, and email in case of emergencies ranging from lurking predators to snow days.

See the June 2008 issue of OSBA Journal for the OSBA: Working for you article by Amanda Levy entitled "When seconds count, count on Leader Alert", or view the article here: OSBA Journal Reprint

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Leader Alert® Supports Shawnee State University Safety Lockdown

Leader Alert®, a Leader Phone® sister product, quickly notified over 3500 SSU students, faculty and staff of the unfolding emergency situation

Portsmouth, Ohio (February 7, 2008) — When the community of Portsmouth, Ohio learned on February 7th that a fifth-grade teacher at Notre Dame Elementary School had been attacked in the classroom in front of her horrified students, they did not know at first whether it was an isolated incident or part of a larger threat. But Portsmouth-based Shawnee State University was prepared. Their Emergency Response Team used Leader Alert® to issue an emergency message that was received within minutes by all 3549 students, faculty, and staff.

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Leader supports suburban Cleveland middle school safety lockdown

Leader Alert® quickly notified 700 Parma City Schools parents, prevented panic

Parma, Ohio (April 27 , 2007) — An April 18 lockdown at Greenbriar Middle School in Parma, Ohio ended calmly when a 59-year old woman carrying a knife was quickly disarmed in the school´s entrance airlock, police were called, and school officials used an Ohio company´s product, Leader Alert®, to send a 40-second voice alert to the phones of 700 parents of students within minutes of the incident, avoiding a school closure and allowing classes to continue.

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Leader issues White Paper: "The Future of Campus Alerting"

Timely and informative alerts can save lives, unify response, stop rumors, and prevent panic

Columbus, Ohio (April 20, 2007) — "The tragedy at Viriginia Tech University on April 17, 2007 has school administrators across the nation looking for better ways to notify students, faculty, staff and even worried parents, friends, relatives and alumni about threatening situations. Security experts believe that timely notices to students and faculty, warning of a possible gunman on campus, might have lessened or even prevented the loss of life that followed.

Hindsight is 20-20. No one knows for sure whether any kind of alert could have prevented the scope of this tragedy. A lone, crazed gunman with no previous history of violence is impossible to predict. However, we owe it to the memories of the students and professors whose lives were lost to try and make sense out of the lessons learned, so that future lives may be spared the suffering so needlessly inflicted upon so many."

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Leader issued U.S. Patent for Digital Leaderboard™ communication engine

Patent covers aspects of Leader´s inventions sometimes refered to today as "social networking"

Columbus, Ohio (November 17, 2006) — Leader Technologies has been issued a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its Digital Leaderboard™ Web 2.0, unified communications technology, the core technology that drives its suite of voice, video and data collaboration products and services.

"Ten years ago I anticipated that the Internet would become the primary way people and enterprises would collaborate on a massive scale," said Michael T. McKibben, chairman and founder of Leader, and inventor of the Digital Leaderboard™ technology. "The granting of this patent validates our vision, leadership, perseverance and it protects our valuable intellectual property."

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Leader hosts former White House security advisor

DeGenero consults on protection of intellectual property, security and intelligence

Columbus, Ohio (October 26, 2006) — Leader Technologies hosted William (Bill) DeGenaro, a former security advisor to the White House during the Reagan and Bush (Sr.) administrations. After his service at the White House he was Director of Strategy & Innovation at 3M. DeGenaro focused his training on innovations and how to protect shareholder value.

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Leader assists Louisiana Governor´s Office following Hurricane Katrina

Leader provided the only working telephone collaboration network for many months following the storms; Leader Phone provided critical links between Louisiana state agencies, U.S. federal agencies and Louisiana elected officals

Columbus, Ohio (September 2, 2005) — Leader Technologies responded to an urgent call Tuesday, Aug. 30, from Louisiana officials following Hurricane Katrina to provide critical telecommunications services. LeaderPhone® was deployed immediately, linking the governor with dozens of federal, state and local disaster recovery officials, said Mike McKibben, Chairman and founder of Leader.

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Leader hosts The Ohio Homeland Security Initiative at The Ohio State University

Conference explored available technologies to improve homeland security, including Leader Phone®, Leader Alert® and Leader Meeting™

Columbus, Ohio (December 13, 2004) — Leader helped bring together experts from government, academia and industry into a think-tank forum. The forum focused on state and local first responder "command and control" solutions that can be implemented now to help overcome the lack of communications and control that hinders disaster response and costs lives. Participating companies and organizations included General Dynamics, Cardinal Health, McDonald´s, Sprint, Nextel, Bricker & Eckler, City of Columbus Department of Public Safety, WOSU-TV, The Ohio State University, Center for Strategic Management, Tibco, The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and a number of other core technology providers.

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Leader Phone® chosen by Kansas as exclusive conference call provider

Leader Phone® competed against all major telephone carriers to win the business

Columbus, Ohio (November 24, 2004) — The State of Kansas has signed a contract with LeaderPhone® to provide audio conference calling services to all state agencies, slashing the cost in half over the previous carrier.

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State of Wyoming chooses Leader Phone ® conference calling services

Columbus, Ohio (May 10, 2004) — The State of Wyoming has entered into contract with Leader to expand its use of LeaderPhone Teleconferencing Services to 38 state agencies. More are planned. Jonathan Downing, Policy Analyst for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says, “Our employees and business partners have been very pleased with Leader´s services. They have resulted in a significant cost savings for our programs. At a time when we are faced with limited resources, Leader´s advanced on-demand technologies have assisted us with maintaining a competitive edge in the provision of teleconferencing services to a state covering 97,813 square miles.

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Leader played key part in Terrorex 04 Homeland Security simulation

Leader Phon®e and Leader Alert® provide a central communications capability to this conference sponsored by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and Boeing

Columbus, Ohio (January 7-11, 2004) — Terrorex 2004 was a high-level Homeland Security conference among experts from commerce, industry, education, and government at the federal, state and local levels who are preparing the United States and its allies against terrorist attacks. It is believed to be the largest interagency anti-terrorism drill ever conducted. Leader Alert™, Leader Phone®, Leader2Leader®, Leader Meeting® and Leader Smart Camera™ provided audio and video communications and allowed agencies involved to collaborate online to react and respond to terrorist threat simulations.

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Columbus Business First Cover Story: "Angels´ Eyes

Columbus is not a well-spring for venture capital, so Leader´s founder and chairman sought support from alternative financing sources

Columbus, Ohio (June 6, 2003) — In shadow of big VC deals, small investors keep entrepreneurs supplied with capital" – Mike McKibben has spent the last six years taking his Westerville-based company through an intensive research-and-development phase.

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Leader awarded 2003 Tier I Ohio Award for Excellence

Award focused on Leader´s advance business development and research and developments programs and processes

Columbus, Ohio (May 23, 2003) — Business First, May 14, "Several Central Ohio businesses and organizations have received Ohio Awards of Excellence. The awards, endorsed by Gov. Bob Taft [and modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award], recognize best practices..." Business First

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Leader Selects DataPower to Accelerate Conference Calling

Leader´s innovative architecture needed accelerators to handle its scalable capacity

Columbus, Ohio (February 17, 2003) — LeaderPhone®, our reservationless, web-enabled audio conference calling service, is now more responsive to users with the addition of XML acceleration technology provided by DataPower Technology, Inc.

CNet | Network World | Application Development Trends | eWeek | Business Week Online | InfoWorld

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eWeek Reviews LeaderPhone®

Leader Phone® hightlighted for its innovations

Columbus, Ohio (January 13, 2003) — LeaderPhone® press coverage 1-13-03 - "LeaderPhone Allows Law Firm To Control, Monitor Calls, Helps Reduce Cost"

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