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Quickview: Supercharge Your Conference Calls

A new service aims to address today's conference call shortcomings.

Bill Winterberg, 06/28/2012

If your work involves collaborating with team members spread across the country, chances are you've hosted a conference call or two to move your projects forward. But today's conference call technology leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, you may be in the middle of a detailed discussion when the omnipresent "beep" sounds, indicating someone just joined your call. Your discussion partner interrupts you, breaking your concentration, and says, "Hi, who just joined us?"

Or consider the time when one of your meeting attendees uses a hands-free device in her car, yet it picks up all the outside road noise, broadcasting it to everyone on your call.

There must be better technology available to help you address these conference call shortcomings.

A new service launched just last month aims to do just that. Uberconference is a product of Firespotter Labs, a cooperative of technology developers and designers based in Pleasanton, Calif. The service is currently free, but as Firespotter Labs adds mobile apps and premium features, expect tiered pricing levels based on desired functionality.

Using your Uberconference account, you can organize a conference call and send an email or text message to invitees. When they call in, participants are authenticated by their phone number and are quickly connected with the conference. As the conference host, Uberconference provides a dashboard so you can view and manage all call participants. When possible, Uberconference links each attendee's profile with public data aggregated from social networking Websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

As new participants join, you'll see their profile pop up in your dashboard--no more "Hi, who just joined us?"--and when a new person begins speaking, their profile moves to the top of the Uberconference dashboard for easy identification. For attendees who don't mute their own phone line, you can easily click the mute button next to their profile and prevent their background noise from being broadcast to all attendees.

All conference calls can be recorded, so participants who join your meeting late can review the recording to catch up on details they missed. Uberconference's most recent features include integration with Evernote, the popular note synchronization app, instant conferences using dedicated phone numbers, and group chat.

The service is currently in a private beta period, but it already has several tens of thousands of users, myself included. You may need to first sign up for its waitlist to try the product out for yourself and see how it can take your conference calls to the next level.

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Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.
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