Author Archives: Adam Kaiser

Huddle Up and Collaborate

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Collaboration | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Organizations are investing in collaboration tools and environments as the importance becomes increasingly prevalent. Not to mention, many organizations have recently started to break down walls (figuratively and literally) in offices. Companies are eliminating office spaces and creating open floor plans to facilitate interaction among colleagues.

Physical spaces, namely conference rooms, where employees can gather to work on deliverables or projects are necessary components to facilitate collaboration. However, since these rooms are shared resources, scheduling is necessary to make sure meetings don’t interrupt each other. This can be frustrating for teams who want to meet spontaneously.

With that in mind, huddle spaces or teaming rooms are being implemented in more and more organizations. What are they? Simply, a huddle space is an area within a company where a group of people can come together and collaborate; whether it is the corner of a room or open space near the cafeteria. These spaces are generally unscheduled resources and are available on a first-come first served basis.

The make-up of a huddle space varies significantly across organizations, but here are a few examples of solutions we have seen:

The Content Sharing Space:
These spaces are built around an LED TV mounted on a simple floor stand/cart. Attached to the unit is a wireless content sharing component that allows participants to attach a small device to their laptops and easily share their screen with the click of a button. Up to four participants can see their content on the screen at the same time, making it easy to compare work and collaborate on deliverables. A large professional services firm has implemented these content sharing stations in hallways and other open spaces throughout their office.

The Video Room, Everywhere:
When it comes to deploying video conferencing, a choice usually has to be made about what rooms and which employees to equip. This is due to both the cost involved and the scalability of infrastructure need to make video work. A media firm decided that they didn’t want to make an investment in higher-end video room systems and instead chose to go with desktop video software (that can be scaled to very large numbers). They simply took a small television cart and equipped each one with a PC and webcam. The result was a low cost video conferencing system that could be easily placed into any room or huddle environment.

The Web Conferencing Room
Web conferencing solutions, such as WebEx and GoToMeeting, provide functionality around content sharing, white boarding, chat, and some video conferencing. Many organizations have chosen to use web conferencing across their entire enterprise as a means of collaborating. One major manufacturer realized the importance of giving as many people as possible the power to connect, both remotely and in the same room, and implemented a web conferencing room solution. For the hundreds of meeting spaces that they have not equipped with video, they have implemented a low cost solution that allows employees to walk into a room and immediately join a web session. From there, individuals can work together in the room and connect with remote team members.

The above examples only scratch the surface of the concept of the huddle room. Ultimately, these solutions are about untethering collaboration from a finite space and making it possible for employees, both those in a local office and remote, to collaborate on an ad-hoc basis without having to schedule static resources and without a huge investment.

Video Conferencing Every Time, Every Space

August 26th, 2013 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Industry News | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

There are numerous statistics that discuss the proliferation of video conferencing into conference rooms and other meeting environments. Every year, some analyst or video evangelist says, “This is the year video is going to explode!” While video continues to grow at a steady pace, that “explosion” of mass adoption and ubiquity has yet to happen. Right now, only 5% of conference rooms are equipped with some form of video conferencing. This leaves a lot of room for growth!

A typical situation for an organization implementing video usually follows this formula; ten conference rooms have been identified as “video rooms” and will be outfitted with high-quality video conferencing systems from manufacturers such as Cisco or Polycom. This company, however, has another 50 rooms that are used for smaller meetings, huddle sessions, or other forms of collaboration. The cost of equipping each one of those smaller rooms with the same video systems creates budget constraints. Consequently, at this point most companies are forced to leave those rooms without any video conferencing.

If one takes this limited roll-out approach and multiplies it across every organization out there, the ability for video to be truly everywhere becomes almost impossible. So the question becomes, how should the market address this?

Enter the telyHD Pro from Tely Labs. This unit is capable of full 720p HD video conferencing and can be attached to any display (via HDMI). Best of all, it’s under $1000. In addition to the low cost, it is also capable of connecting to standard video conferencing infrastructure (via the SIP protocol) and is natively integrated into the Blue Jeans Network for full interoperable video.

A recent white paper from Wainhouse Research highlighted these smaller meeting rooms and how the availability of a low cost video conferencing system opens up huge possibilities.

These solutions specifically do not offer the high cost ‘luxury’ features such as industry-leading video resolution, full motion dual stream video, optical and motorized pan/tilt/zoom cameras, support for multiple microphones, integrated audio mixers, or multiple video/audio outputs. What they do offer is a solid collaboration experience, including in some cases interoperability with standards-based systems, at an easy-to-afford price. –Wainhouse Research

These types of systems present “good enough” video conferencing; quality that provides a suitable experience but not on the same level as an enterprise grade video conferencing system. In many cases, however, that is ok. Organizations can connect these smaller rooms and help increase overall collaboration across the entire business.

With millions of conference rooms sitting without video connectivity, the introduction of a low-cost unit has the potential to help video spread like wildfire!

Infocomm, the largest industry tradeshow for all things communications, was held earlier this month. The show focuses on audio visual technology including the technologies that are used to build collaborative room environments.  Major visual collaboration vendors also setup large booths to showcase and demo their recent offerings to the public and their partners. This year, a trend that we have consistently been seeing in video came to fruition.

In a previous post, we discussed the move of video conferencing to software and virtualization. At the show this year, a plethora of products were announced that follow this exact model. Rather than provide a breakdown of every company and their new solutions, let’s take a look at the common themes throughout all of the announcements.

Software Based
Each new product and solution that was announced was entirely software based. What does that mean? Gone are the days of specialized hardware or DSPs that are purpose built for a particular video conferencing application. Instead, manufacturers are writing software that can either be loaded on off- the-shelf servers or deployed on virtual servers. A significant benefit to this trend is increased scalability, can easily add or delete users without having to purchase more hardware. Not only does this help reduce the costs associated with video it allows more people to access to the technology.

It’s About Collaboration
Video conferencing vendors are beginning to recognize that simply meeting via video isn’t enough. The need for users to collaborate with others on documents and deliverables is growing in importance. Nearly all of the software based announcements included features around content sharing, annotation and white boarding and even the ability to store perpetual notes in a virtual room that can be revisited. These features will elevate video from individual meetings to on-going collaborative sessions that can start and stop organically.

Go Mobile or Go Home
Not surprising, mobile devices took center stage at Infocomm and all of the video related announcements included significant functionality around them. For a short time, the ability to simply join a video meeting on your mobile device was enough. Users were blown away by the convenience of being able to join from anywhere. However, early solutions provided limited functionality for those mobile attendees. Manufacturers have realized that simply joining from a mobile device is no longer enough. End users want the ability to join, share content, control the meeting and have no restrictions based on their device. Some really exciting features include the ability to connect to meetings with multiple devices, screen share directly from a tablet or smartphone, and more.

As Far as the Eye Can See
As previously mentioned, these new software platforms are lowering the cost of implementing video across all users in an organization. Beyond that, the importance of being able to extend visual collaboration to anyone outside of the organization has become a major feature. All solutions are allowing anyone to join via a web browser, a UC client, or a myriad of other solutions currently in use. Instead of requiring uses to take special steps to join a meeting, they can join with whatever software, device, or solution they are currently utilizing.

The transition to software in collaboration is happening quickly and the latest solutions are a testament to that. With this new model, the development time for new features and support is rapidly increasing so users will have access to the latest tools as soon as they are available. It’s an exciting time for people everywhere as their ability to be connected is increasing exponentially!

American Telemedicine Association’s policy guys, Jonathan Linkous, CEO, and Gary Capistrant, senior director of public policy, are back with another monthly installment of This Month in Telemedicine.

They’re predicting an additional 30 to 40 million Americans will be added to Medicaid roles by next year, and there are now 20 states looking to expand Medicaid coverage to accommodate this surge. Better start preparing now, says Linkous. “I think next year we’re going to see a whole different world, in a few short months it’s happening so the time to gear up is now,” he says.

Funding Opportunity
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has just launched another billion dollar funding opportunity. It’s looking for “big, bold projects,” particularly any that will be actionable on a multi-state level. Letters of intent are due by June 28, and the full applications are due August 15.

Austin Meeting Recap
Linkous and Capistrant also discussed the ATA’s recent meeting that was held at the beginning of May in Austin, Texas. During the meeting, the first of four best practices was released. They’re for state Medicaid programs, and the ATA has been working with special interest groups and refining the guidelines, and they should be available soon. They cover specialties such as telemental health, home telehealth and remote monitoring, school-based telehealth, and specialties like diabetic retinopathy.

The ATA also distributed a draft version of their state best practices guidelines, which is now being reviewed by special interest groups. Additionally, a new and expanded version of their toolkit is now available on the ATA website.

“We try and provide more information for you all to use,” says Capistrant. “But also to try and act as a clearing house and identify what the various states are doing so that all the other states can benefit from that without duplicating efforts or trying to draft something from scratch.”

Federal News
On the federal level, the ATA is very focused on dealing with getting Medicare coverage approved, and some opportunities for Medicaid as well. The bill sponsored by Senator Scott Thompson is working its way through the system, but because that bill is more of a big-picture attempt to solve and clarify telemedicine issues, the ATA felt the need for a bill that would deal with smaller-scale issues that could move quickly and be approved relatively easily. To that end, they’ve been working with Congressman Greg Harp, R-Mississippi, to assemble a package of incremental changes. “Hopefully, [it will be] easier to get support and budget estimates,” said Capistrant. They’re also hoping to be involved in physician payment reform.

As discussed during previous ATA webcasts, 104 counties lost Medicare coverage in February because of redesignation as metropolitan areas. The ATA is working on restoring coverage to the affected counties. The ATA is also working to remove some major barriers, like metropolitan area access, stroke diagnosis, and services for homebound patients that aren’t currently covered by Medicare. Homebound patients present a particularly strong argument, says Capistrant. “They’re not in the position to travel to a doctor’s office, so there’s a compelling clinical case for care in the home.”

Bipartisan Effort
There’s bipartisan interest in telemedicine, says Linkous, which is something the ATA has cultivated. “We’ve always made sure this is a bipartisan effort,” he says. “We’ve worked very hard to avoid any type of partisan positioning.” The ATA has had congress people of both stripes approach, and voice support for telemedicine.

In state action, Georgia and Alabama both have proposals from their respective medical boards under review. They’re improved versions of past proposals although still there are still issues: they don’t deal with the full range and diversity of telehealth uses and situations e.g. emergencies, and also interpretative services such as cardiology, radiology, etc. For example, in Georgia, telehealth ICU would require patients to I.D. every health practitioner who had previously served them, which is a burdensome task for all involved.

In the Alabama proposal, telehome care is exempt from rules if delivered by a licensed homecare health agency but community health centers and physician practices are excluded.

The pair also took issue with certain language in both proposals, identifying it as “anti-telehealth”; particularly requirements for prior physician-patient relationships, meaning the physician has to see patient in his or her office first. “That’s a code word for people who want to kill telemedicine,” says Linkous. ”It’s about protecting your market and protecting yourself from competition that telemedicine provides. And when you do that, there are 5.5 million Americans received teleradiology services and they’re gone, they don’t get it anymore because of the prior physician-patient relationship [requirement].”

Meet the New IVCi!

May 8th, 2013 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Industry News | IVCi - (0 Comments)

Meet the New IVCi

There is fundamental shift going on in the world of visual communications and collaboration. With the advent of mobile devices and the cloud, a day doesn’t go by where a manufacturer doesn’t announce a new video or collaboration service or offering. At the same time, major manufacturers are pushing their technology (mostly at the desktop) as the be all end all for collaboration. However, we believe collaboration is much bigger than that and can happen anywhere.

BrandLaunchIVCi has always focused on trying to deliver the best solutions to address the business needs of our customers. We begin every engagement with a thorough assessment and understanding of our customer’s goals. This is something we have done for quite some time and the result is a solution that can deliver the desired outcomes.

With that we are incredibly excited to introduce you to our new brand. With over 18 years of experience, we have witnessed the power of collaboration and its ability to help our customers move their business forward.  Our new brand is focused 100% on collaboration. We believe when organizations embrace collaboration across their workforce, something truly remarkable occurs. Individuals come together with common goals and their collective power can accomplish far greater things than each individual on their own.

This new brand is just the beginning. Our mission is to enable our customers to improve their business and their bottom line by unleashing the collective power of their people through collaboration. As a collaboration company, IVCi will bring many new and exciting products and services to the market. As a collaboration company, we will help organizations work together in new and exciting ways. As a collaboration company, we will change the game.