It's very easy to get carried away by new technologies, and to try and make them fit problems for which there are far simpler solutions. As I witnessed not that long ago.

It started innocently enough, with an invitation to take part in a phone "conference" with a large computer company, to be briefed on upcoming new products. Their PR company had offered to provide and pay for the link so, on the appointed day, I turned up at their offices and was ushered into a room equipped with a big shiny table and one of those weird-shaped conference phones.

There was just me and the PR guy at our end and he proceeded to log in to the conferencing service but, unfortunately, hadn't jotted down the right number and got a little flustered.

"How many other participants are we expecting?" I enquired at this point.

"One." was the PR's response.

"So why don't we just ring them and put the call on speakerphone?" I responded.

He looked at me, blinked a couple of times, then did just that and, from then on, it all went swimmingly.

Now, I'm not saying there isn't a place for in-house or online conferencing systems. I take part in lots of teleconferences and, where a number of participants are involved, in multiple locations, there's no better way of getting everyone together. Other than, of course, bussing and flying them all to the same location, with all that entails in terms of time and money.

No, conferencing is a real cost saver and a valuable business tool. Moreover, the latest HD video options add yet another dimension which can be very compelling. However, it's not a "one size fits all" solution, and for some meetings there are simpler, cheaper, ways of getting the job done.

Alan Stevens


This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management