WebRTC - Hype or the Real Deal?

For those who have been watching the collaboration industry closely it is hard to not see a multitude of articles and announcements that discuss WebRTC and the latest product to feature the technology. We have blogged extensively about WebRTC in the past but, in short, WebRTC is a web browser standard that enables real-time audio and video directly in the browser without the need for plugins. The standard is still being developed and has not been completely “ratified” by the governing bodies that ensure web based standards are, well, standard. Browser support is not universal (Chrome, Firefox & Opera support it; Safari, Internet Explorer and others do not). With these limitations in mind, let’s explore what WebRTC can actually enable.

Immediate Access
In the past, joining a rich media experience within your browser would require that a plugin was downloaded. In many cases this is still required; think of web conferencing solutions like WebEx or GoToMeeting. With WebRTC, a developer can utilize the native browser to achieve much of the functionality that their plugin provides. In the case of Cisco, they recently announced WebEx compatibility with Google Chromebooks and that compatibility is being achieved by rebuilding WebEx as a WebRTC native application. Now a user simply clicks a link and they are in the meeting instantly.

Video Enabled Business Processes
Much of our work on a daily basis happens inside specific business applications such as CRMs, EHRs, or other custom designed solutions. Since WebRTC is web based, it is much easier to embed web assets into an application and allow video communication to happen right in the system workers use every day. From a healthcare perspective, many doctors and physicians live in their hospital’s Electronic Health Records system. With WebRTC enabled assets, a doctor, nurse, or other employee could be reviewing a patient’s records and immediately initiative a video call on that screen. They would continue to review the data and be able to collaborate with each other in real time, without leaving the application. The productivity gains can be enormous!

Reduce Security Concerns
Many organizations choose to lock down user computer systems from the installation of applications and other components to reduce the risk of malware and viruses. Only when IT is involved can an application be involved. This lock down, while good for security, can be bad for productivity. If a user wants to join a media rich session they would needed to request IT to install a needed plugin. With WebRTC, that employee can utilize the native browser they use every day to join these sessions without having to wait for IT to set-up the application.

Extended Reach
A critical component of collaboration technology is the ability to bring anyone, from anywhere into a meeting without a heavy burden. Previously connecting to a partner or a customer over video required the installation of proprietary software and some finagling of firewall settings, etc. With WebRTC enabled solutions, users simply receive a link to the meeting and they can join instantly. With the case of many solutions out there these links can connect users into sessions that also feature users connected with unified communications solutions (Lync, Jabber) and standard video conferencing systems (Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize).

The use cases for WebRTC are significant and the technology is already opening new doors. While the standard still has a way to go with both ratification and browser support, I feel strongly that WebRTC is here to stay and certainly worth of the hype it has created!

Social media and content marketing are two of the hottest trends in marketing today. Not only can consumers interact with brands and products in an informal setting, they can conduct research, connect with other users and provide both positive and negative feedback and experiences. Unfortunately, this produces a significant amount of data, Big Data as it’s come to be known, which can be extremely difficult to monitor and track.

The ability to organize, prioritize and ultimately analyze this data in a visualized manner can provide tremendous advantages for organizations including valuable insight into trends that may otherwise remain undiscovered. This also allows brands to respond in real-time to support requests or negative experiences, drive brand engagement, and simply interact with consumers and a fun and informal atmosphere (think Marc Jacob’s Tweet Shop during New York Fashion Week).

As a result, IVCi and Cisco have teamed up to provide the Social Media Listening Center, a robust solution that tracks, organizes, and visualizes social media data on interactive touch screen displays. This can include real-time mentions, popular hashtags, global conversation data, most common keywords and more. Organizations can then use this data to engage and develop relationships with a broad range of customers worldwide.

Watch the video below for a quick demo!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Social Media Listening Center how IVCi can help you visualize any type of big data tweet us @IVCiLLC or click here to send us an email.

Additional Resources: 
Social Media Listening Center Data Sheet

Cisco MX 300 G2

When it comes to video conferencing everyone seems to be talking cloud based services and mobility. These are certainly the big trends of the moment but it is important to remember that room based collaboration is not going away. Colleagues still want the ability to grab a conference room and initiate both local collaboration sessions as well as connect to remote participants via video.

Back in October at the Cisco Collaboration Summit, several announcements were made regarding Cisco’s video portfolio. The overarching theme was to make collaboration simple. One of the hardware solutions announced was the MX300 G2. This solution is scheduled to ship to customers this month.

The G2 really represents the evolution of room based visual collaboration. The device is an all in one solution that features a 55” display with several mounting options (wall mount, floor stand, wheel base), a high definition camera with 4x optical zoom and a wide angle lens, significantly enhanced audio and integrated cable management for simplicity.

The unit is controlled by a large 10” touch display that features an  easy to use interface. This new software will be making its way to Cisco’s other hardware solutions providing a consistent experience across their entire portfolio.

Other features include the ability to host up to four party calls (connect with up to three other video systems) as well as a second display option.  The second display can be dedicated for content only as well. Finally, the system can be upgraded to support full 1080p.

As part of Cisco’s promise to make collaboration easier, the MX200 G2 can be installed in under 10 minutes.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the MX300 G2 (and will be added to other Cisco systems as well) is Intelligent Proximity. This feature allows meeting participants to pair their tablet (iPad for example) directly to the endpoint and receive and interact with content being shared on their device. This creates a personal experience in a group setting and allows each user the ability to manipulate the content in such a way to help them fully understand what is being presented.

Click HERE to learn more!

 

 

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Santa is officially headed out and is on his way to our homes to leave gifts for everyone all over the globe. While he is away, how does he stay connected to all back at the North Pole? On second thought, how does he stay connected all year round? Well video conferencing plays a big part in Santa’s role as CEO, husband, and global gift giver. Take a look at a few of the ways that Santa uses video collaboration to make his life a little bit easier.

Driving Elf Productivity

Santa has a demanding job being the CEO of the entire elf workforce. Therefore, using video conferencing helps him to expedite decision making, enhance the ability for him and the elves to function as a team, creates more efficient meetings with the elves while he is out on the sleigh, and betters his ability to quickly ensure toy quality while the elves are on the production floor. All of these help elf productivity and allow Santa more time to spend time with Mrs. Clause.

Staying Connected With Mrs. Clause

That brings me to my next point. We all know how important it is to spend time with your significant other. This applies to Santa as well. Whether he is out on the sleigh traveling around the globe delivering presents, or spending time at the toy production facility, he can still connect with Mrs. Clause via video conferencing. Even better, with BYOD abilities, Santa can use his tablet or mobile device to conduct video calls instead of having to lug his computer around on the sleigh. Video conferencing with Santa makes for a happy Mrs. Clause, and we all know the saying….happy wife, happy life!

Collaboration With Parents

It is quite the task for Santa to go through the lengthy naughty or nice list every year. Utilizing video conferencing to speak to parents about how their children are acting this year, makes going through the list much more efficient. Santa can also use video to share content about trending toys to help get ideas and input for toy production the coming year.

Elf Recruitment

As the elf population continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to find efficient ways to conduct elf interviews. Likewise, with toys being more and more technologically advanced, it is imperative to recruit the best talent possible. By using video conferencing, Santa can conduct interviews regardless of the elf’s location. Santa can also conduct more interviews in less time by alleviating the need for elves to travel to Santa’s workshop to partake in the vigorous interview process. Video conferencing gives Santa the ability to find the best and the brightest elves from all over the North Pole without even leaving his home.

Connecting With Sick Children

Some children in hospitals are not able to get to wherever Santa is to sit on his lap to let him know what they want for Christmas. By working with Cisco Systems, he has come up with a program called Connected Santa. This allows Santa to connect with hospitals all over the world and use video conferencing technology and equipment to make bedside visits to sick children. Santa does not want to forget any child around Christmas and this use of video collaboration allows him to make sure he gets to all of them.

Last week Cisco hosted their 2013 Collaboration Summit where Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, delivered the key note address which included Cisco’s collaboration strategy as well as new product announcements.

Trollope started with memories of his first computer; how technology at work surpassed what was available to him at home. In the past few years though, with the advent of the smartphones and tablets along with Facebook and other social networking sites, technology available to consumers at home has surpassed the technology available at work which has led to a sense of frustration. There is significant opportunity for advancement in the enterprise technology space and Trollope stated that Cisco is working “to make the technology we have at work as great or better than the technology we have at home.”

Trollope also stated that at Cisco, he not only had access to a lot of different collaboration technologies but the opportunity to use them. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not have this opportunity due  to different barriers; a lack of access, cost of implementation and complexity to name a few. Therefore, Cisco is committing to three goals; to make technology easier to use, easier to buy and to bring it all together. By making the technology more accessible, reducing the complexity, and delivering it at the right price more people will be able to take advantages of the benefits collaboration has to offer.

The goal, in Trollope’s words, is to “Make Collaboration Simple” and drive the next innovation cycle. Cisco will do this in the following ways:

  • User experience:  integrating the technologies they have and making them more intuitive
  • IT support: making the technology easy to deploy, manage, and run
  • Partners: making it easy to buy, sell and support Cisco solutions

Finally, Trollope announced and demonstrated a few new products.  Two key themes were cloud and mobility; hide the complexity of technology in the cloud and embrace mobility in the enterprise.  A few noteworthy announcements include:

  • Collaboration Systems Release: Cisco is testing everything together to make sure all components works together.
  • Cisco Expressway: Offers a secure tunnel into collaboration technologies without having to VPN into the network.
  • Cisco Jabber Guest: Turns virtual customer service into a reality by allowing organizations to integrate video into their website.
  • Intelligent Proximity App (currently in testing): Provides the ability for someone to walk into a room and pull the content to a smartphone or tablet. Users can also bring their personal directory with them and use it on the intelligent device in the room.

In closing, Trollope said “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The products being unveiled represent a new direction in collaboration technologies and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they come out with next!

Watch the full replay of Trollope’s speech here.