Is conference calling dead?
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Is conference calling dead?

4th September 2019
By Tom Ladle

No, is the short answer. End of article (just kidding, let us explain how we got that answer). Currently, we seem to be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking what form of tech to use. Whether this be the type of fridge you kit out your kitchen with, the laptop you choose, what type of headphones for listening to that playlist you just spent four hours creating (no judgement here), the list goes on. The same can be said with meeting software. Gone are the days where a conference call was all that was on offer, now you can choose to video call, share your screen, host large scale events through webinars and much more! Nevertheless, conference calling is still going strong and is yet to receive a visit from the grim reaper. Wainhouse research forecasts that in 2020, the total audio minutes for the UK will be 5,222.8 million minutes[1] (a fair amount). So, here we go, let’s get into some exciting reasons why this is the case.

Some of us are still camera shy!

Recently, we carried out a survey looking at attitudes towards video calling, comparing us Brits and our friends from across the pond in the US. Turns out, we’re a rather unassuming bunch with 45.5% of our UK respondents saying webcam made them feel self-conscious. 29.9% said their main concern with video is what they look like (you look great, by the way). Seems like we may not be ready to fully embrace video just yet! Although, 60.9% of UK peeps and 72.3% of US peeps did feel webcam usage will increase in the future. Let’s not concern ourselves with the future now though, let’s look at the present.

A strong and stable (sorry Theresa) tool

Our conference call service hosts a whopping 320 million minutes a year, so it’s clear at least some people still like a conference call (bragging out the way). Web meeting tools are jam packed with features, which if used correctly can lead to some top-notch meetings. Although, with these extra features, all it takes is a couple people with a poor internet connection for a meeting full of ‘sorry didn’t quite catch that’, ‘your screen keeps glitching’ and ‘maybe we should hop on a conference call’. We don’t want to bad mouth web meetings, they’re a brilliant tool, it’s just conference calls are obviously simpler. There’s also the added advantage of not having to show your face when you’re WFH and haven’t yet managed to summon the willpower to change out of your pjs.

Work with what works

Conference calling still feels more accessible and convenient to many than video as it’s built on technology that most people are familiar with, da-da-da, the phone! Everyone likes to use tech that their comfortable with. It’s particularly important if you’ve been asked to organise a meeting with a measly ten minutes to spare. You want to rely on tech that you’ve used before, keeping the nervous sweating and erratic breathing at a minimum. All that’s required to get going with a conference call is a Host/Guest PIN and dial-in number. It’s straightforward if you need to communicate with international contacts as well, as conference call services provide tons of international dial-in numbers.

Cheap as chips

Out of all the meeting solutions that exist, it’s safe to say that conference calling is a cost-effective option. Everyone likes to save some dosh. That’s one of the reasons that conference calling tech is still so widely used today. With other products such as web meetings and webinars, the wealth of features available means that they are often more expensive. Many conference call providers won’t charge a monthly subscription to use the service. You pay for the individual call, rather than paying a monthly cost for a product you may only use once a month. Plus, conference calls offer a cheaper alternative when compared to face-to-face meetings. With face-to-face meetings it’s easy to rack up all sorts of costs, from travel to lunch orders for those peckish clients.

Conference calls are still evolving

A sure-fire sign of a dying piece of tech is a slow up in innovation. This isn’t the case with conference calling. Although, the tech may look simple on the surface (psstt, designed that way on purpose) there’s loads of innovation going on behind the curtains. Whether this be app integration, cutting edge in conference controls or continually improving audio quality, it’s all happening. It would be pointless to continue investing in tech that’s dying out. The future of smart conference calling is looking bright, so watch this space!

[1] https://insight.wainhouse.com/reportaction/AC-FCST19-CSP-EU/Toc