I’ve got lots of kids. Five of them, from six to 25 years old. Fortunately, they all get along…most of the time. And that means lots of texts, Facebook updates and phone calls. Increasingly though, we’ve been doing video calls. Facetime from Apple is our usual method, as we’ve all got iPhones, iPads or Macs. Riley, my six-year-old daughter will say, “Hey Dad, let’s Facetime Taylor.” That’s her older brother who lives in San Francisco. He also is a developer at Apple, hence the family loyalty to that platform. She will grab my phone, deftly scroll down to Taylor’s name on my favourites and tap the call button. A few rings later, Taylor is smiling at her.
What doesn’t happen is Riley sending a “meeting invite” to Taylor via e-mail or sending him a calendar invite to dial into a conference bridge with a passcode, then both announce their names and get some nice elevator music playing in the background. Riley, being the chairperson, would have an extra passcode to dial. Sounds absurd, right? Of course it does.
By now, we’ve all seen the hilarious Tripp and Tyler video: A Conference Call in Real Life. The reason it’s so funny is that “Meet Me” conference calls are so unnatural, ridiculous and completely at odds with the way humans want to communicate with each other. What should happen is what Riley does; she just calls her brother, like walking into his room when he lived at home. And then she could dial her sisters one after another, or they could call her, and the call just works and builds until everyone is connected. Why do business services make us call the “Great Conference Room in the Sky?” A couple of reasons, I think:
First, only in the last few years with the advancement of IP-based audio and video calling and the rich UI’s that now are possible on all of our devices, has there been the concept of “directories” and “presence.” Without directories and single tap/click-to-call, direct calling is much more stilted and time consuming. So, we all just called the conference bridge. But in the modern web world, there’s really no need to do that anymore.
Secondly until very recently, bridge ports (particularly video bridge ports) were hoarded like gold nuggets, because they were more expensive than an ounce of gold. Never would anyone dream of making them abundant and virtually free like we do with Easy Peasy Video, and offering anyone, anytime multiparty calling on any device just by calling and answering calls from people. No more weird passcodes and sitting in purgatory until the chairperson shows up.
Modern web and cloud technology and connected devices have eliminated the need for this outdated form of connecting with each other, particularly in the day-to-day workflow of progressive organizations. So let’s ditch the “Meet Me” conference and go “au naturel.” Just like Riley does.