Author Archives: Adam Kaiser

Top 5 Signs Your AV Room Needs Some Love

December 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Audio Visual Integration - (0 Comments)

Audio Visual integrated environments such as boardrooms, huddle rooms, classrooms, and more offer an incredible array of technology that can be easily controlled by a single user. However, as easy as these rooms can be, and as important of a business tool they are, sometimes things just don’t go very well. It may be that the room was setup poorly, without proper attention being paid to acoustics, lighting and the overall integration of the disparate technologies installed. It may also be that the room is getting older and technology is beginning to fail.

Setting up a conference room for the weekly sales meeting shouldn’t be a chore. Here are five indicators that it may be time to call in an experienced AV integrator to get things back on track:

  1. When you walk into the conference room you’ve grown accustom to pulling down the shades and taping a large piece of white paper over the back window. If you don’t do this the video conferencing system shows a body and a glowing head that no one on the other side can make out. Most likely, when the room was designed no one paid attention to the overall lighting of the room; and controls for the shades were not integrated into the control panel.
  2. The room has a touch control interface but when you push the option for video conference, the TV starts showing CNN Headline News. You are then forced to manually change the input options on your displays to get the video conference going. The equipment in the room was most likely changed around without updating the control programming to offset the new technology.
  3. A video call manages to connect but the participants on the far end of the conference room table either have to yell across the table or someone has to pass the microphone down in order for the other side to hear. The furniture in the room was most likely rearranged and a larger table was brought in, however microphone quantity and placement was not updated.
  4. Displaying content on a local screen (such as a presentation) requires users to run a cable across the table, under 3 chairs, and over a large plant in order to reach their laptop.  At least one time per meeting someone trips over the cable, pulls the content, nearly damages the laptop and almost breaks an ankle. Cables were not properly run through the wall conduit and no one has checked to see if it can be redone.
  5. The displays flicker when they are turned on unless they are hit on the side a few times and every so often you have to unplug them for 30 seconds and plug them back in. Most likely, the displays are old and beginning to fail but are no longer covered under a maintenance or warranty plan.

An audio visual integrated room is like a living, breathing entity; it requires care and consideration not only during the initial design phase, but throughout its life. If you are experiencing any of the above issues or some other annoyance, the room itself could be hampering your organization’s productivity. Seek out an experienced audio visual integrator who can update your room into a collaborative powerhouse, allowing you to focus on the business at hand while the technology to fades into the background.

Managing A Sales Team With Video Conferencing

November 26th, 2012 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Use Cases | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Video conferencing uses span across nearly every industry and profession. When it comes to staying connected with both internal and external contacts, there is no better way to maintain communication and provide the highest level of customer service. When it comes to sales, utilizing every avenue available to differentiate oneself is critical to closing that next big sale. Previously we have discussed the merits of video conferencing as a tool for sales professionals who work directly with customers. But another key area to apply the power of video is the internal management of sales within any organization.

Sales managers across a variety of industries struggle with similar challenges; including managing a team of sales professionals, providing timely and accurate forecast data to upper management, as well as being able to mentor and contribute to each rep’s success. Let’s look at how video can be used in these key areas.

Forecasting

One of the most challenging aspects of managing a sales team and sales effort is receiving accurate forecast data from the sales team as well as reporting the most accurate forecast to upper management. Video conferencing provides a far better way to work with remote reps on this critical business area. In many organizations, reps provide their forecasts electronically through a CRM or other tool.

These numbers may be discussed via a phone call with a manager before submittal but sometimes they only live electronically. Even in those situations where a manager and rep discuss the numbers, it can be hard to read the sales rep’s demeanor and overall confidence in the numbers. When these forecast calls are elevated to video, non-verbal cues can help the manager quickly ascertain if the forecast is based on solid information or purely on conjecture. Armed with that “truth” the manager will be able to provide forecasts that are based on reality.

Internal Teams

Another challenge a sales rep must overcome is the need to rely on different teams within an organization to provide the products and services they are tasked to sell. Especially in a technical sale, sales reps are required to call upon engineers and other subject matter experts to help explain products and services, define pricing and scopes of work, as well as give the customer more in-depth technical presentations. In many cases, these subject matter experts must be flown to different locations (thus increasing the cost of sales). With video, sales can easily communicate internally with the SMEs on what they need to move the sale forward and can also bring a customer into a video meeting to help sell the value of the organization’s technical expertise.

Sales Training

How does an organization keep its sales team updated on the latest product and service developments without taking the team away from the business of selling? Video conferencing can provide a way to do short, specific training sessions with sales reps, no matter where they are located. Instead of requiring the team to come into one location for an extended period of trainings and updates, information can be disseminated in smaller sessions, more frequently. Even better, a sales rep would only have to take an hour or two out of their schedule and they can return to selling as soon as possible.

Video conferencing has the power to transform a sales team into an incredibly efficient and profitable machine. When sales is more prepared, better connected, and held even more accountable, the results can only increase an organization’s bottom line!

Hi-Definition in the Palm of Your Hand

November 9th, 2012 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Collaboration | Telepresence - (0 Comments)

This week Apple announced that it had sold three million iPads since the launch of the iPad Mini and the new fourth generation iPad. What is particularly interesting, especially from a video conferencing perspective, is that both of these devices feature 720p cameras on the front.

With recent trends around mobile devices and extending the reach of video, many have suggested that quality can take a backseat to mobility and accessibility. Over the last year or so, the major limitations of video conferencing with mobile devices have been the camera and the network connectivity.

For example, while 3G networking has been widespread the real-life speeds are relatively slow.  Plus, the response rate of these network connections interrupts the steady flow of data hampering the transfer of high quality of video.  As a result, video calls are frequently interrupted, freeze up or simply drop out creating a frustrating experience for all participants.

While Wi-Fi increases the quality, many of these mobile devices have low resolution cameras on the front.  This also diminishes the quality of a video call by providing a grainy image instead of the clear image many have come to expect with HD video conferencing.

The release of several Android smart phones and the iPhone 5 has made 4G more prevalent. “True” 4G provides bandwidth over 10x the speed of 3G, in addition to a faster response (or latency). In many areas, 4G can actually be faster than a cable or DSL connection in markets providing a superior experience.

Wireless carries in the United States have recognized the value and increased throughput of 4G and continue to invest billions in expanding their 4G coverage. Just this week T-Mobile and Sprint announced major investments in their network infrastructure; but AT&T announced the largest with a $14 billion expansion.

So what does all of this mean to the video conferencing user? Really it’s the best of both worlds. High quality video conferencing is more accessible than ever before as mobile users now have multiple options to join video meetings. Once relegated to dialing in over audio, the road warrior can now be fully involved. Even more astonishing, is that the mobile user will no longer have to sacrifice quality to reap all of the benefits of visual collaboration.  As a result, the ubiquity of video is well on its way.

Today at the Visual Communications Industry Group Annual Expo, IVCi unveiled its comprehensive suite of distance learning solutions. Combining the best of Audio Visual Integration, Video Conferencing, and cloud services, these solutions enable educational institutions to extend the reach of education far outside of the classroom. IVCi is exhibiting at booth #201. If you are out at the show, come by and take a look! We are also showcasing our new UC Room solution.

Additional Resources:

IVCi Distance Learning Solutions Press Release

UC Group Systems

 

A Glossary of Video Conferencing Terms

October 17th, 2012 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

As visual collaboration announcements about new products continue to hit the news it can be somewhat challenging to discern the technical jargon from the user benefit. Nearly all of these announcements refer back to some set of technical terms that may be lauded in the announcement but aren’t fully explained. Below are some key terms and meanings that you might have seen recently.

SVC – Scalable Video Coding:
Up until now most major video conferencing manufacturers have built their solutions around AVC (Advanced Video Coding). Essentially AVC and SVC are formats of compression technology that allow high definition video to be sent across networks in an efficient manner. AVC essentially sends video at a one resolution, one frame rate with one level of quality across a network. The weakness with this approach is when there are network issues; quality suffers because the stream is unable to adapt down to different resolutions or frame rates.

Conversely, SVC sends multiple layers and resolutions, while monitoring the network. When problems arise, SVC can essentially peel back layer by layer, adapting to the network environment. The result is smoother video that provides a superior user experience.

1080p30 vs. 1080p60
720 and 1080 refer to the lines of resolution of a high definition video single. If you own a HDTV at home you are generally watching 720 or 1080 content on your screen, usually at 30 frames per second. Essentially the human eye is interpreting 30 images a second to create the motion of the content on TV. Now video conferencing systems are starting to use 60 frames a second; the result is a more lifelike, fluid motion. As these frame rates go up, along with the resolution, the image becomes closer to reality.

B2B
The “holy grail” of video conferencing has been the ability to easily connect to and communicate with vendors, partners, and suppliers. Many of the roadblocks for this type of communication have been technological; either due to interoperability or network issues. The term B2B in the visual collaboration world refers to this type of cross organization connections.

H.323
Delivering video conferencing signals across networks requires a number of elements to be successful. The H.323 protocol is design to be a standard that video conferencing manufacturers use which allows their systems to speak the same language. H.323 controls the audio and video signals, the bandwidth, and call control (alerting you to incoming calls, providing alerts, etc). Major manufacturers such as Polycom, Cisco, and Lifesize offer H.323 systems that can easily communicate with each other.

SIP
Like H.323, SIP is a protocol design to enable the communication and connection of devices across networks. SIP is an older protocol that was designed more for closed systems that would ultimately connect via gateways to other closed systems. Additionally, it is not as robust for adding new features.