Pain Points of Conference Calls, By the NumbersA new report from the University of Cambridge, called Conversations, Conferencing and Collaboration: A US investigation of factors influencing the effectiveness of distributed meetings* has found that for 91 percent of the businesses surveyed, audio conferencing is still the most frequently used conferencing technology. Almost all (96 percent) of the companies surveyed rated "having good sound quality" as the most important factor impacting effectiveness of conference calls, followed by "using reliable conferencing technology" (93 percent). The report found that poor audio made it hard to understand who is speaking, what is being said and in what emotional tone. This in turn led to increased stress levels for participants and decreased productivity. Efficient speaker identification was felt to be crucial to a successful conference call by 61 percent of those surveyed, while 84 percent stressed the high importance of muting background noise. Dr Anna Mieczakowski at the University of Cambridge, said: "Poor sound quality puts pressure on participants' hearing and thinking capabilities, which can result in tiredness and impair people's concentration and contributions to the meeting, as well as having a negative effect on secondary tasks such as note-taking. By improving the sound quality of a call, participants will be less stressed and less tired, and thus in a better position to clearly communicate their views and understand those of other attendees." Howard Dickel, CEO BT Conferencing, said: "The research from Cambridge shows that conference call users believe higher sound quality would greatly improve the efficiency of their calls. We believe this would be a major factor in speeding up decision making processes. Our partnership with Dolby will radically improve the quality and dynamics of conference calls and because of this we expect businesses and their staff to get greater value from the experience. BT will be selling this through its BT One portfolio of unified communications and collaboration solutions." Andrew Border, VP, Communications Business Group, Dolby, said: "Audio conferencing is an essential tool for conveniently and affordably connecting distributed and mobile workers. But current solutions suffer from technical limitations that prevent natural interactions. BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice makes conference calls sound and feel more like everyone is in the same room, which encourages participation, spontaneity, and collaboration, resulting in more productive meetings." The new service, developed in partnership by BT and Dolby builds on the existing capabilities of BT's MeetMe audio conferencing service, currently used by thousands of businesses worldwide. It is part of a series of new collaboration services launched by BT intended to transform the quality of business conversations and greatly improve the way people work together within and between organizations.