This guide will provide comprehensive overview of major benefits of using conference phones for business, the main points to consider when investing in a teleconferencing system and the best conference phones currently available.
|Why Use a Conference Phone?|
|Choosing the Right Conference Phone|
|Top 10 Best Conference Phones|
Why Use a Conference Phone?
How important is collaboration to your business? If you hold frequent meetings with customers, suppliers or colleagues in different locations, an effective, easy-to-use collaboration solution is essential. Travelling to meetings is time consuming and costly, so a collaboration solution is key to reducing your costs, saving time and improving productivity.
One of the simplest, but most effective collaboration tools is teleconferencing. By using desk phones, mobile phones or computers, employees can collaborate with contacts anywhere in the world.
What's more, thanks to the flexibility and reach of the latest Internet-based phone systems such as Voice over IP (VoIP) or Unified Communications (UC), conference call costs are low, regardless of location.
Benefits of Business Conference Phones
There are a number of benefits to bringing conference phones in to your organisation. A conferencing device can take your communications processes to the next level in a number of ways, incorporating more of your workforce and improving overall productivity of meetings are just two key advantages
Improve Project Management
Businesses of all sizes use teleconferencing services to support project management. Team members can dial in from any location to discuss progress or resolve issues. This helps maintain project momentum and eliminates delays when time to market is critical.
The global reach of phone conferencing makes it easy to extend membership of a project team to customers, suppliers and experts from universities or industry research groups. Creating “virtual project teams” is a practical reality with advanced conference phones.
Enhance Customer Service
Collaboration can make an important contribution to customer service. If a customer calls with a complex enquiry that is beyond the skills of a call centre agent, the agent can bring an expert colleague into the call using simple phone conferencing.
Service engineers working in the field can also set up conference calls with specialists at the office if they need advice and guidance to solve a maintenance problem. In both cases, the problem is resolved quickly, helping to increase customer satisfaction.
Teleconferencing services help streamline communications in the supply chain. Members can quickly and easily share information when changes in the market impact supply levels. They can also collaborate on projects to reduce costs or simplify administration throughout the supply chain.
If enhancing customer service is your top priority, then this post on the benefits of a telephone switchboard system should provide additional help
Support Flexible Working
Many businesses recognise the importance of offering employees flexible working options, such as working from home full-time or several days a week or month. It’s essential for home workers to keep in contact with their office-based colleagues, both to maintain progress on important jobs and to reduce the risk of isolation that can affect remote employees.
Teleconferencing services help to bridge the gap between home and office, building greater teamwork and making remote working a more attractive option. Thanks to the reach of Internet phone systems, it’s no longer necessary to set up expensive dedicated connections to home workers. All they need is an Internet connection to access the conferencing service.
Build a Collaborative Culture
Phone conferencing has many specific applications in business, but it also helps to build a collaborative culture. Commentators have pointed out that the Millennial generation, those who are currently aged 18-34, already constitute more than a third of the workforce in countries like the United States. They have a positive attitude to collaborative working and the use of technology to help them do their jobs.
With the right conferencing tools, collaboration can become an integral part of the working day, rather than a separate activity for specific tasks.
Teleconferencing makes collaboration simple and affordable. For individuals, the deskphone or smartphone is the only equipment they need. If small groups are working together and conferencing with external contributors, they can use special conference phones that allow a number of participants in a room to hear or speak during the meeting. A selection of popular conference phones is described later.
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Choosing The Right Conference Phone Solutions
To support business conferencing, a number of suppliers provide facilities that make it easy to set up and join meetings. Many of the suppliers provide toll-free numbers, which participants dial to join the meeting. Participants receive an invitation to join, together with a security code to use when they login to the service.
Optional services are available that allow conference organisers to schedule calls and distribute invitations through integration with calendar applications like Microsoft Outlook. Other services include call recording, distribution, and analytics programs that record usage.
Build a Foundation for Collaboration
Teleconferencing services offer businesses many important benefits, but as part of a VoIP or UC solution, they are just one form of collaboration. VoIP and UC also support video conferencing and Web conferencing, which add visual content to the collaboration process. Teleconferencing provides a great platform for collaboration and enables businesses to evolve to more advanced solutions at their own pace.
Finding the Perfect Solution for your Office Size
As technology has developed and with greater competition between suppliers the choice you have when it comes to choosing a conference phone is now larger than ever. In the review section to follow we will individual breakdown the best conference phones on the market but one key consideration you need to make is the size of your office. A small business requires a different phone system to a large one.
Specifications alter depending on type of model and one of the main functionalities of a conference phone is its microphone range.
The range of each conference phone means some are suitable for larger spaces with certain models offering a pickup range of up to 20 foot while some models are designed with small teams in mind, offering ranges of 7 foot or less.
10 Best Conference Phones
When a conference call requires multiple team members to participate in a conference room, the features of a regular phone can be limiting. Phones specially designed to handle conference calls are the best solution.
These phones have built-in microphones designed to pick up audio from participants seated throughout the room, as well as speakers that carry sound from other callers in a way that everyone can easily hear.
While a wide variety of teleconferencing hardware options is available, here are the top 10:
Polycom SoundStation Duo
The Polycom SoundStation Duo works in conference rooms with analogue or VoIP phone lines, and has built-in SIP endpoint software for advanced call management. It has a microphone pickup range of up to 10 feet (3-metres).
The unit offers clear voice quality and incorporates HD voice technology, full-duplex audio and echo cancellation. An applications port supports connection to a PC or tablet to become a high-quality conference phone for Internet calling.
- Reliable Connection with Automatic Failover from IP to Analog
- Easy to Use Admin
- HD Voice Technology
- Ideal for Small to Midsize Meeting Rooms
Mitel MiVoice Conference Phone
The Mitel MiVoice Conference Phone combines high-definition wideband audio capabilities. Sixteen microphones with a pick-up range of 12 feet (3.6 metres) automatically focus towards the person talking. The conference phone also includes a large touch screen display for easy access and viewable presentations.
The unit features beam-forming technology, which provides smooth transition between microphones and focuses microphones on the active speaker. This helps to minimise side conversation pickup and increases speaker clarity.
- 7 Inch Display
- Echo Cancellation
- Email Compatible
- Options to Expand Model
Polycom RealPresence Trio
The RealPresence Trio conference phone from Polycom is quite possible the most advanced piece of technology of its kind. It’s stylish design and feature rich capabilities mean it can fit quite easily into any type of meeting room regardless of the size of your organisation or the sector your operate within.
The RealPresence Trio is brimming with custom benefits and advanced features. Its 5” LCD touchscreen makes for easy navigation and control and you can even pair your laptop or other devices for seamless interaction.
- Stylish Design
- Screen Sharing with LCD display
- Easy to Use
- Connect with Existing Video Conference Systems
PJP-20UR Conference Phone
The Yamaha PJP-50R connects with landlines, mobile phones and PCs and incorporates different modes for different environments to ensure participants can be heard, even in noisy areas.This is ideal for small businesses where meeting rooms may be scarce and open areas are used instead.
The unit offers smooth full-duplex performance and incorporates a high-performance adaptive echo canceller. The pickup performance of the arrayed microphones ensures voices are picked up accurately even when distant from the microphones.
- Duplex performance
- USB powered - No Wired Connection Needed
- Easy to Use
- Compact Device
Polycom CX5100 Unified Conference Station
The CX5100 is the first unified communications device in this list and its technology makes it a market leader. Not only does the model contain voice conference technology but the 360-degree video camera can take your communications one step further by offering a panoramic view of your meeting room.
The 20 foot microphone pickup range along with HD 1080p camera make this the CX5100 model one of the most advanced unified communication devices available. By combining both voice and visual technology you can improve your communications process by integrating even larger teams as well as the productivity of your conference meetings.
- Polycom HD Voice Technology
- 360-degree View
- USB Laptop Connection
- Microphone Extensions Available for Larger Rooms
MeetingPoint Conference Phone
The Snom MeetingPoint is designed for groups of up to 10 people in middle to large size conference rooms. The unit has a recording range of up to 320 square feet (30 square metres) making it suitable for large meetings and large teams.
Incorporates features to suppress background noise and offers full duplex broadband sound quality. Participants from up to five different locations can join a call on one number.
- Up to 4 External Participants
- Anti-Theft Security
- Additional Microphone Extensions
- Conference Call Recording
Avaya B189 Conference Phone
The Avaya B189 manages to balance a stylish design with feature rich offering for a great all round product. Enhanced wideband audio contributes to HD audio quality to incorporate all meeting members up to 20 feet.
As well as great audio quality the B189 also includes a 5” touch screen for quick and ease use, including a range of features to simplify the conferencing process.
- Large Microphone Pickup
- Suitable for Medium and Large Meeting Rooms
- Modern Design
- Wireless Headset Capabilities
ClearOne CHAT 150
ClearOne CHAT 150
The ClearOne CHAT 150 is a versatile portable, device that can be used in small conference rooms or connected via USB to a PC for desktop conferencing. The low microphone distance makes for excellent sound quality within smaller areas.
The ClearOne CHAT 150 provides full-duplex audio communications and can pick up audio from participants located up to eight feet (2.4 metres) away from the unit. Echo and noise cancellation features eliminate unwanted audio, while automatic gain and level controls adjust microphone and speaker levels automatically.
- Powered via laptop USB
- PC audio bridge
- Echo & Noise Cancellation
- 3 Built in Microphones With 360 Degrees Pickup
Avaya 1692 IP Conference Phone
The Avaya 1692 model is a reliable conference phone for midsize organisations and meeting rooms. It’s clear audio capabilities make it a great choice for any type of business in a range of industries and you be sure that your whole can be heard when using this device.
With a 360 degree and 12 foot microphone range the Avaya 1692 model will suit most organisations exactly how it is, however additional microphones are available for larger meeting rooms with clear voice quality guaranteed.
- Wide Microphone Coverage
- Designated Feature Keys
- Easy to Use
- Microphone Extensions Available
Konftel 300 Conference Phone
A SIP based device, the Konftel is a highly functioning conference phone with a number of highly sought after benefits for business of all sizes. Record and store meetings for future reference and additional microphone extensions are just two of these key features.
Another benefit of the Konftel 300 is the accompanying SD memory card. This allows for some of the features already covered including being able to store previous meeting to refer back to if needed in the future.
- SIP Based
- Record & Store Meetings
- User Profiles
- 2 GB Memory Card