I’ve written before about the strength of PGi’s audio conferencing and how innovations in audio technology are shaping the future of this mission-critical component of modern business. In this edition of Collaborative Conversations, I get an expert’s take: a 13 year veteran of the conferencing industry, Joe Yang.
Tell us about your background and your current role at PGi.
I joined PGi thirteen years ago, originally based out of our San Francisco office. I had previously worked at a small start-up. My current role is the Senior Director of Solutions Engineering for North America, working with two teams – sales engineers and technical account managers – to provide subject matter expertise and serving as a bridge between our sales teams and product management.
For people who may not be familiar, can you briefly tell me what Sales Engineers and Technical Account Managers do?
Sales Engineers work with product management teams to provide technical expertise to our sales associates and customers. They add a third level to our sales conversations, bringing an in-depth knowledge of how our solutions work from a technology perspective.
Technical Account Managers are dedicated technology specialists for our largest customers in the Diamond Channel, ensuring that their solutions are up-to-date, assisting them with software deployments and setting in place a collaboration technology strategy with PGi products.
Audio conferencing isn’t typically something people consider as an innovative technology – it either works or it doesn’t. How does today’s audio conferencing look different than it did 10 or even 5 years ago?
Something I find that people often forget is that audio is the lowest common denominator for collaboration. Even with tools out there such as web conferencing and unified communications, audio is still the critical piece; without it, there would be no effective meetings.
Five years ago, people were still picking up the phone to dial access numbers and passcodes. In fact, we see a lot of users still doing that today. PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio offers integration with Microsoft Outlook, and apps for most mobile phones and tablets, all of which make joining and managing your meeting a simple click or a tap away. Mobile devices and mobile apps will continue to reshape traditional tools like audio conferencing into more streamlined and user-focused experiences.
What innovations are out there in the audio market today that your average end user may not even know about?
For audio, a lot of the innovations happen under the hood, in ways that people don’t and aren’t intended to see. For example, when PGi adopted VoIP-based audio conference bridges years ago, we improved accessibility and redundancy tremendously but in a way that also enabled us to improve the end user experience.
Looking ahead, another invisible innovation is how we’ve prepared our network to handle wideband, HD audio, however most users don’t currently have an endpoint that supports the technology. As the G.722 audio codec becomes more common and the market for HD audio matures, our network will already be positioned and ready to provide an HD audio experience.
Is there still room for innovation in the audio conferencing space? If so, how do you see that innovation taking place?
I definitely think there’s still room for innovation in audio. I think we’ll continue to see people wanting to access their audio meetings in different ways and from different devices. Also, the ability to seamlessly transfer between different connection methods — for example, starting a call on my smartphone and transferring it to VoIP on my laptop when I get to my desk — is another area where I think audio conferencing can improve and has yet to be fully explored.
On the more technical side, there are a lot of innovations to be made in audio conferencing security and encryption, such as potentially adopting multi-factor authentication.
What trends in audio adoption and usage are you seeing?
There are a lot of technologies out there such as CRM, Big Data, etc. that are taking priority at a lot of companies, with audio conferencing often an afterthought. But customers are beginning to realize how much value there is to be gained from a modern, innovative audio solution.
These meetings are happening every single day; by choosing a cost-effective, easy-to-deploy solution with mobility options, desktop tools and web conferencing integrations, businesses can dramatically improve the quality of life for their employees and clients.
We’ve seen PGi benefit from innovating collaboration technology into larger technology priorities – such as mobility. The more we can tie our software into other priorities such as big data and virtualization the more PGi will be able to expand the growth and value of audio conferencing.