In our current socially distanced world, conference calling has become an integral means by which business people collaborate and communicate with colleagues, clients, and even in their personal lives. It’s unlikely to be something often thought about, but the conference call’s evolution actually traces back further than one might think.
A Brief History of the Conference Call
The history of conference calling technology dates back to roughly 80 years ago. The 1940s brought about the invention of the first teleconference devices. These devices provided a way to host conversations between multiple people via a telephone call.
The earliest instance of what could be referred to as a conference call happened in Bulgaria, with the Jordanphone, a device designed by Asen Yordanoff in 1945. The Jordanphone was a wireless device designed to transmit audio from a standard phone to a loudspeaker, allowing anyone in the room to hear the person at the other end of the conversation.
Later, Bell Laboratories was the first telecommunications firm to pioneer the concept of telephone conferencing in 1956. In the early 1960s, The American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) began to test the waters of teleconferencing tech, developing the first-ever teleconferencing device to incorporate visual communications. This device was called the Picturephone.
The Picturephone was first unveiled to the public during its exhibition at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. With this new technology breakthrough, visitors communicated with others via telephone and camera, with a picture appearing on a tiny screen every 2 seconds. However, this new development in the conference call was to be short-lived. It would never gain much popular use in the mainstream, mostly because it required three phone lines to manage video and audio and was a rather expensive and unwieldy device.
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The advent of the internet in the early 1970s brought about the development of internet relay chats or IRC. While still used in its basic form, IRC set the groundwork for new advancements over the next several decades, evolving into the Instant Messaging platforms that remain popular today.
Around the time of the new millennium, the webcam invention further enhanced how people communicated and interacted, allowing people to engage in face-to-face interaction and communication over great distances via the internet, from the comfort of their home office.
In today’s modern world, almost every person, children included, owns a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. In tandem with advancements in Wi-Fi and conference calling service providers, these portable devices have made conferencing and communication over vast distances easier than ever before.
How Have Advancements in Conference Calling Technology Helped Improve Productivity?
The pandemic of the last year greatly altered how many of us live our day to day lives. With restrictions, stay-at-home mandates, and social distancing practices put into place, there has been a huge shift in the way people connect and communicate with one another.
In this new economy, more people are working remotely from home than ever before. This has given rise to widespread growth in numbers regarding internet communications, especially regarding the use of video conferencing software.
App Annie reported in 2020 that video conference app downloads hit a staggering 62 million downloads during the week of March 14-21. Another VC Daily report said that video conferencing is expected to grow by 20 per cent each year through 2022.
Let’s have a look at some of how technology has increases productivity.
Training and Onboarding Employees
Employee training and onboarding have become faster, easier, and more cost-effective through video conferencing. Video conference software allows for better face-to-face communication between companies and their employees who are working from home. This software also provides the added benefit of recording functionality, allowing for later access to those training sessions, meaning that current employees and new hires can learn from the same material.
Encourages Social Media Interaction
Social media plays an increasingly important role in how business is done in the modern world. A live streaming studio or webcasting platform can be used to encourage engagement via social media channels.
By integrating videocasts into social media feeds, conferencing becomes more like a social event in which participants are more likely to interact. This allows companies to gain a broader reach and gain the attention of a wider audience.
Easier Corporate Communications
Conference calling and webcasting make it much easier for companies to communicate and engage with stockholders, employees, and the public. Webcasting is an excellent platform that affords companies an improved means of communicating information internally and externally. By facilitating ease of communication, webcasting also creates a more effective collaboration between teams, allowing for higher productivity.
Continuing the Conversation
Many webcasting and video conferencing platforms also allow for integration with customer relationship management, CRM software and other marketing tools. This enables companies to keep track of who tunes in and allows for more insight into engagement and return on investment (ROI) while creating an opportunity to keep the conversation going after the presentation has ended.
In a socially distanced world, technology continues to drive change in how we do business and interact with others. With so many new advancements being made each day, we will likely see this trend continue well into the foreseeable future.