The integrated conferencing functionality on IP Office is enhanced by adding Conferencing Center. This optional licensed application is a web-based software package that consists in two parts:
The scheduler is independent of the web client, either or both can be used. Conferencing Center also interacts with SoftConsole and Phone Manager.
The Web Scheduler allows registered users to create and book conferences online using a web client interface. The Scheduler offers secure conferencing while being very easy to set up. Users simply enter the date, time, duration and the number of conference participants required. The conference is created, if the resources are available for that specific time. Once reserved, the conference resources are allocated to that conference call for the specified number of participants at the selected date and time. Additionally Music On Hold (if available on the system) can be played to callers while waiting for the conference to start.
Access to the Web Scheduler requires a user to be granted a user logon and password by the administrator and have Internet Explorer (6.0 or above) installed on their PC. No other software is required. The System Administrator can set up an unlimited number of registered users on the Conferencing Center application. Once registered, users can review the system resources before booking a new conference, book a conference as well as list pending conferences they have previously set up.
The user setting up the conference can then add participant details including their email address and their telephone number. This allows email notification to all participants confirming the conference call details including the conference name, description, host contact details, bridge number, conference ID, their unique participant PIN code (if PIN checking has been selected) and the URL web address for the web client (if web support has been selected). At any time prior to the start of the conference, Participants' details can be changed.
Voice Conferencing Notification (VCN) can be activated for selected participants. This allows Voicemail Pro to dial out to participants when the conference is about to start and bring them to the conference bridge if they are available.
Advanced security is available by generating unique PIN numbers for every participant allowing them to be recognized by the system and displayed on the Conferencing Center Web client (if selected – see paragraph below). If caller announcements are required, Voicemail Pro can announce each participant by asking them for their name which is then announced to all participants already on the bridge. Similarly at the end of the conference, each participant leaving the conference will be announced.
A local address book facility is available to provide a convenient method of managing conference contacts and using these contacts when booking a conference. The address book can be accessed in two ways, either from the ‘My Profile’ tab or from the Add/Update Conference Participants process.
Conference templates can be used to book recurring conferences, all booking information including the conference ID and participants PINs are retained, except for the conference date. Using a conference template in this way can save re-entering of repetitive information thus saving time and effort. Once a template has been created they can be accessed via the ‘My Conference Template’ tab:
The System Administrator can generate reports regarding conference usage and individual conference reports. This will detail the conference name and ID, the start date and time, duration and number of participants. If PIN codes were used, individual reports can be run listing participant details and when they joined/left the conference. Finally, if voting was being used using the Conferencing Center Web Client, voting results for each participant would be shown for each question asked during the conference call.
In summary, the Conferencing Center Web Scheduler offers the following:
Web-based booking tool to reserve conference resources (immediate or future).
Ability to select “Listen-only” or “Speak & Listen” mode for each participant.
Email notification to all participants.
Voice Conference Notification (VCN) to dial out participants.
Participants name announcements as they enter/leave the conference bridge.
Unique computer-generated Conference ID for security.
Unique PIN code for each participant for security and authentication.
Web-based reports on conference usage and voting results.
To complement the audio-conference, the host has the ability to share information over the Internet. The Web Client offers a browser interface where the host and participants can not only see which participants have joined the conference but also whether they joined as audio-only or both audio and web. A conference host has the ability to pose questions, modify participant speak/listen settings and whisper to a single participant connected into the conference. When in listen-only mode, participants can request the right to speak through their Web Client (raise hand function). A Web Chat service is available between Host and Participants and the dialog is recorded and sent via email to the Host after the conference. Two modes of communication between Host and Participant is supported, either private or public. Public allows all participants to see the dialog
The host can present a document on the Web Client with all participants. (for example a PowerPoint presentation, Word document or an Excel spreadsheet) or simply a website URL. Files can be loaded on demand using the Web Client, or in advance using the Web Scheduler. When presenting the document, the host has the ability to synchronize the document view to all participants (e.g. change slide) as long as he resides within the same IP domain as the Conferencing Center server (this is a Microsoft limitation).
Participants can be located anywhere on the Internet or across an extranet as long as they have access to the Web Server running the Conferencing Center application.
Access to the Conferencing Center Web Client requires the participant to have Internet Explorer (6.0 or above) installed on their PC. No download of the application is required. There can be as many web clients as there are participants on the conference call (up to 64 maximum per conference). For security, access to the Web Client requires the participant to logon using the Conference ID and their unique PIN number. This allows the system to recognize who joined the conference and display its name on the right-hand side of the screen.
In summary, the Conferencing Center Web Client offers the following:
Real-time view of participant’s status (Dialed in, Logged on to Web client, Speak & Listen, Listen Only).
Ability for the host to change participant status in real-time.
Ability for participants in listen-only mode to request the right to speak (raise hand function).
Mute All / Un-Mute All facility for the host.
Web Chat between Host and Participant
Whisper facility for the host to have a private conversation with one of the participants.
Viewing area for reviewing PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.
Questions & Voting facility.
An operator equipped with the SoftConsole PC-based application can set up ad-hoc conferences via drag and drop using the speed dials. Voicemail Pro will then contact the participants and bring them to the conference. External participants need to be called by the operator and transferred to the conference. Using the SoftConsole application, the operator can transfer a call to an ad-hoc conference or to a conference created via Conferencing Center. Please refer to the SoftConsole section for more information.
Phone Manager users can join a conference or book a conference via the Conferencing Center application by clicking the relevant icons within Phone Manager. This will launch the Conferencing Center Web Client and the Conferencing Center Scheduler respectively. Note this feature is only available if permission is specified by the system administrator and if the Conferencing Center system is installed and available.