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One Ringy Dingy

If you've been in the audio conferencing industry since its birth a quarter century ago, you've seen it all. Operator dial-out used to be the only way people were connected to a conference call. What became "revolutionary" in the 1980s and really took off in the 1990s was "Dial In" or "Meet Me" automated, reservationless conferencing. Give everyone a bridge phone number and a passcode and you could "free" them from being at a precise location waiting to be connected to a conference call by an attendant. "Reservationless" Meet-Me conferencing took off and became the dominant way of holding a conference call.

Fast forward to yesterday's press release from Vello Corporation. "Vello Incites a Revolution in Conference Calling - No More Dial-In Numbers or Pin Codes" Oh boy. We're envisioning real "revolution" in the streets here. Attendant-based dial-out conference calling with a little bit of dial-out list automation thrown in. Is this really going to "incite" revolution? Even a Wainhouse Research principal was quoted in the press release touting the Vello service saying "Upgrading the user experience to join and participate in an audio conference call eliminates one of the last barriers to widespread use of collaboration and conferencing services" and calling (presumptively) the Meet-Me dial-in method "a rather archaic process for joining a call." Archaic? Really?

The Meet-Me conferencing method distributes the labor and responsibility (and sometimes cost) associated with the execution of a conference call. By centralizing it the old AT&T way and having a system like Vello's dial out to reach everyone may work well for the same group in regularly scheduled conference calls, but how will that work with ad hoc collaborative meetings with many outside parties? Who really wants to track down and manage all those phone numbers of participants for that call? What happens when a participant at the last minute realizes his or her cell phone doesn't hold enough battery power for a call and he or she needs to be connected with an alternative number? And in a large conference like an investor relations call, would a dial-out Vello service work more effectively than the "archaic" method of Meet-Me conferencing? ...It's just not as easy as one ringy dingy.


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