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.

As an employee of a visual collaboration organization I often take for granted the ease of access to video solutions and the fact that everyone I interact with on a daily basis is on video. In most organizations video conferencing deployments are often limited to a subset of users. For example, middle management or functional departments like sales are given video due to their high proportion of remote team members.

In a typical video environment, most companies use a mix of hardware devices and software, often causing interoperability issues. Conference rooms normally have some sort of standards-based video system from Cisco or Polycom, while desktop and mobile users have various software applications. Additionally, many organizations have Microsoft Lync clients that are sitting dormant either because the organization doesn’t know how to implement the client, or the client doesn’t interoperate with their current video deployment.

Today, Acano announced general availability for their revolutionary new product that solves many of these challenges, and unites previously incompatible audio, video and web technologies into coSpaces. IVCi is always looking ahead to the next big technology and we are excited to announce that we are one of the first partners selected to resell this solution.

So, what exactly is a coSpace?

It’s a virtual meeting room, only radically better. Users can connect with any device or application they have, ranging from a standard video conferencing endpoint to Microsoft Lync or their web browser. Acano also offers native iOS and Android apps that allow users to not only join from their smartphone or tablet, but also split how they attend. For example, if I am connected to a meeting from my desktop system but have to leave the office, I can “throw” the call to my iPhone with a push of a button and without disrupting the meeting. Then, when I get to my destination, I can throw the call back to my iPad.  Or, if I am in a busy area, I can view video on my iPad while sending audio through my phone. That brings new meaning to our mission of Collaborate Anywhere!

coSpaces also go beyond a virtual meeting; they provide a dedicated space for people to organize and exchange ideas by storing chat logs, meeting notes, and more. Users can create as many coSpaces as they need, one for every project, supplier or team, and then invite participants to join.

Acano’s hardware is based on standard Intel processors (similar to those found in a laptop computer) but have been modified specifically for video and collaboration. Based on the hardware and their specially designed software, a single Acano server can handle up to 2500 users, making the solution extremely scalable. Now, every user in an organization can have access to video. Furthermore, all of the inactive Lync clients floating around can be effectively utilized to drive collaboration.

Acano overcomes technology barriers allowing you to work wherever your ideas and creativity thrive. See for yourself with the demo performed at Infocomm below.

To learn more about Acano visit our website.

As the need for collaboration grows, the video conferencing industry provides. Microsoft and Accenture have published survey results showing that the oil and gas industry has looked to video conferencing as a solution for major problems within the industry. Accessing information at anytime from anywhere is a key factor in business success, and having the ability to share data and communicate in real time provides major benefits.  As a result, the need for video collaboration in this industry is steadily increasing as workplace dynamics continue to change.

Approximately 200 oil and gas industry professionals including engineers, mid-level and executive management, business unit heads and staff, project managers and geoscientists, were candidates for completing Microsoft and Accenture’s online survey in order to determine how video conferencing has affected the gas and oil industry. Results show that the percentage of oil and gas professionals that are collaborating is increasing, and 35% have spent more time collaborating. Social networking has also become a major business collaboration tool as well, and is growing each year. Results of the survey also show that instant messaging and social networks are the most popular social media tools for business collaboration, and the usage of internal company social networks has increased.

Video conferencing has been a definite solution for the problems that this industry faces. Problems, such as a lack of skills and an aging work force, make it difficult for this industry to stay modern and keep up. Younger generations don’t have the skills and experience needed to maintain the industry. There are also issues with breaking workflow and challenges involving knowledge sharing. Video conferencing has allowed these issues to dissolve, as collaboration allows users to share information in real time and creates an outlet for easy communication.

While many companies find that video conferencing is a solution, about 30% of the companies surveyed are still hesitant about the technology and restrict its usage, leading employees to be weary of using social tools in the workplace. However, 40% of employees surveyed feel that there is not enough teamwork among employees and social tools drive collaboration. The survey has also shown that there are distinct differences between counties, sectors and genders relating to productivity.

Every company utilizes their tools in different ways. Some feel that video collaboration will make them more successful, while others may not. However, the majority of companies that participated in this survey have realized the benefits of video conferencing and are integrating it into their daily business routines, thus improving collaboration, speeding up customer response and assistance, and creating a new competitive advantage.

When thinking about movie production, video conferencing and collaboration is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, producer Jerry Bruckheimer agrees that thanks to video conferencing, producing films is much more successful and efficient. Rather than spending excess amounts of money on travel costs so directors, producers, and actors can be in the same location, video collaboration has allowed the flow of communication to be unaffected by the lack of physical presence. Bruckheimer certainly utilizes his Cisco TelePresence set up, and is in constant communication with everyone on his production team.

When making a movie, it is nearly impossible to have every member of the production team in the same location. As a result, video collaboration equipment is becoming the newest member of every production team. Directors and producers can work with their cast from across the globe, and work out final touches with editors in an instant. There is a large amount of data that is transferred throughout the film-making process, and Cisco TelePresence makes it easier to move around. The way that technology has changed the way films are produced is remarkable; pretty soon even movie theaters will be digital, and physical film will no longer be needed.

With this drastic change in technology, many people question whether it’s the best option, particularly in Hollywood when the director/actor relationship is key. Losing that in-person interaction is a difficult thing to replace, however the face to face interaction provided by video collaboration is helpful in establishing that relationship. Video conferencing has not only helped producers keep in touch with their teams, it has also helped choreographers teach their dance students, and even inmates going through arraignment.

The benefits of video conferencing are well known in the enterprise world; now they are making their way into other career fields as the technology continues to grow. Soon we will see the impact of video conferencing and collaboration in everyday life.

Check out the video below to watch Cisco’s interview with award winning film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and see for yourself how much of a difference video conferencing has already made in the film industry!

Polycom has recently announced its latest addition to its video collaboration family, the Polycom CX5500 and CX 5100 Unified Conference Station, a 360 degree panoramic 1080p HD video collaboration solution custom-built for Microsoft Lync 2013 and the first ever in the video conferencing industry. These stations are designed to create an around-the-table experience with a 360 degree camera panoramic view of the room, allowing all participants to engage.

Polycom has also announced that it has received Lync 2013 qualification for its Polycom VVX Business Media Phones, strengthening the partnership between the two companies by expanding Polycom solutions that are compatible with Lync products.

Why is this great for customers?

  • Easy to use. With Polycom CX5500 and CX1500, the operator has options that allows for easy usage. A new user interface and design system allows easy access to launch or join a call directly from a Lync user environment. Users can directly connect the CX5500 or the CX5100 via USB to a Lync-run computer. These two solutions can also be used with the Lync Room System, combining a 360-degree camera experience with touchscreen monitors and tabletop touch controllers.
  • Better productivity. The Polycom CX5500 and the CX5100 are placed in the center of the table, and therefore allow a natural conversation by engaging all participants simultaneously, with not only those sitting around the table, but other participants who are not. Both systems include 1080p active speaker video while displaying 30 frames per second at a 360-degree panoramic view. Conversations are clear with Polycom HD voice.
  • Financially beneficial. The Polycom CX5500 is both an HD video collaboration environment and a fully featured SIP conference phone, which ultimately reduces capital costs for organizations that require both systems. Since it is so easy to use, the company can also save on training and IT costs.

While desktop video has many advantages, it can become cluttered when connecting multiple groups of people. These solutions are great for organizations looking to extend their Lync application into a conference room environment. Contact us if you have any questions or would like more information on designing or installing collaboration room environments.