Now that unified communications have become commonplace and popular, many meeting participants prefer to participate in meetings from their desk. In some instances, that might work well, but in-room collaboration offers benefits that completely remote meetings do not. In-room allows participants to experience non-verbal communication and other visual cues that make collaboration more effective. Participants can get up and move around and still participate in the conversation, plus larger displays make it easier to view remote participants and data sources.

Organizations also often need to share and collaborate on complex data. This includes high resolution images where granular detail is necessary, such as blueprints or products designs, as well as the ability to display and control data from multiple sources simultaneously. In these cases, desktop collaboration just doesn’t quite cut it. Much of the detail and interactivity common among complex data can get lost over the desktop, plus users typically have to choose between sharing video or sharing content.

The solution is a collaboration room designed to support telepresence capabilities and complex data equally. A few application and teams that can benefits from these types of rooms include:

Research Teams: Participants need to view multiple images and different types of research data while on a video call.
Crisis Management: War Rooms that need multiple, high resolution video feeds to stay on top of the situation as well as collaborate with remote colleagues and teams.
Product Management & Development: Ability to view large, high-resolution design images along with 360-design previews

Cyviz is a manufacturer of a range of Collaboration Telepresence (CTP) products that support complex data and aims to bring the three essentials of modern meetings into alignment: video conferencing, data, and visualization. What’s also unique and valuable about Cyviz’s products is they’re all part of a cohesive portfolio designed to work together, depending on the end user’s needs. The 7 components are:

  1. Displaywall: 5 models available
  2. User Interface: Cyviz Display Controller central room control
  3. CTP Engine: for data management; 3 models available
  4. Video Codec: for standard C1 set-up
  5. Integration Kit: all the accessories needed to put the system together
  6. Collaboration Platform: enabling multi-room connection capabilities
  7. Furniture Module: ergonomically designed unit for each product

The product range is broad enough for most CTP situations, and their products are very adaptable and user-friendly. If you’re in need of a high-quality data visual data and conference solution get in touch and we will walk you through the options to ensure you’ll collaborate efficiently and not miss a byte of crucial information.

In collaboration environments there is often the need to display different types of content. Selecting the correct display plays an integral role in the effectiveness of a collaboration environment as the wrong type of display can provide a poor user experience. For example, if the display is too small for the room, participants will have a difficult time seeing the content.

The two main types of displays are flat panel displays and projection systems and there are several factors to consider when selecting a display. This includes the size of the room, the application and type of content being displayed, room aesthetics (amount and type of lighting), the budget and overall user expectations.

The size of the room has a direct correlation to the size of the display; larger spaces will need a larger display while smaller spaces can used a smaller display. Flat panel display sizes typically range anywhere from 42” to 90” diagonal but can go to 103” while projector screen sizes typically range from 119″-133″ diagonal and up.

Projection Systems:
Projectors are great for sharing text, spreadsheets or presentations as projectors can provide a larger image at a lower price point. Projection screens can also be hidden in the ceiling when they are not in use. However, projectors require low-lit or dim spaces as room light from bulbs and windows can wash out the image on the screen. Projection systems are either rear project or front projection systems.

In rear projection implementation, a projector is placed in a projection room and the image is bounced off a series of mirrors on the projection screen. This allows the projector to remain hidden, eliminating any projector noise and is also less sensitive to ambient lighting. However, collaboration rooms must be large enough to accommodate a projection room. In front projection implementation, the projector is hung from the ceiling or hidden in a drop down platform and the image is projected directly onto the front of the screen. While this setup eliminates the need for a control room, it is more susceptible to ambient light and does not hide projector noise.

Flat Panel Displays:
Flat panel displays are typically used for video conferencing as well as presentations. Flat screens offer a clear, vivid picture which is ideal for high resolution images. They are not as susceptible to ambient light; however, for an optimal experience organizations may still want to cover windows if there is a substantial amount of direct natural light coming into the room to prevent a glare. There are three types of flat panel displays including plasma, liquid crystal display (LCD) and light emitting diode (LED).

Plasma displays use gas to excite light photons which produce color on the screen. They provide the highest and most accurate representation of color and a consistent brightness to the image which can be important when displaying images or other content. However, plasmas are typically heavier, not as bright and consume more energy than other types of displays.

LCD displays use pixels that contain three colors (red, green and blue) plus a backlight. The liquid crystals, when energized, block certain colors from showing and produce the desired color. LCD displays are lighter and consumer less energy than plasmas and are typically at a lower price point.

LED displays are similar to LCD displays and use a cluster of red, green and blue diodes that are driven together for form a full color pixel. LED displays are the lightest and most energy efficient of flat panel displays. They are also brighter and provide a more accurate color than LCD; however, they are at the highest price point.

When faced with a display decision, it is important to understand how and where the equipment will be used along with the budget requirements. While a 103” plasma display might provide a lifelike experience; it is not the most affordable solution. An organization must consider the application and types of content being displayed to determine the right type of display technology.

AV Buyers Guide CTA

Collaboration technologies are making their way into many organizations as executives realize the benefits collaboration can bring to their organization. In many cases, there is a need to connect groups of people in a collaborative room environment; whether it’s to encourage collaboration on documents or other deliverables, video conference with remote teams, or hold a training session for new hires or policy updates.

They myriad of choices between the technology, room layouts, furniture and more can become overwhelming; especially for organizations designing a collaboration environment for the first time. Here are a few tips to help navigate through the process.

When determine what types of technology the room needs, an organization must first decide what the room will be used for. The majority of functions fall into three categories:

Connecting People
Video conferencing is often used to connect remote teams and the technology typically depends on the size of the room and number of participants. For smaller groups, a single camera with manual pan/tilt/zoom functionality can be adjusted to capture the entire room. Larger groups, however, may need the ability to automatically switch between a panned-out room view and a zoomed-in view of the active speaker. In this case, dual cameras are necessary. In some cases, panoramic room or lifelike views of room participants are needed.  Multiple cameras that capture images from left, right, and center segments are used to create the immersive telepresence feel.

Presenting Content
The ability to present content is standard in almost any collaboration room. When utilizing content sharing during a video conference; it may be necessary to have dual monitors as one is dedicated to viewing remote participants while the other is dedicated to viewing content. In rooms where video conferencing is not needed, a PowerPoint or training video can be displayed with a projector and screen. In some cases, teams may need to create, modify and annotate documents instead of simply displaying them. Interactive whiteboards allow teams to brainstorm ideas or markup documents then send the changes directly to a computer.

Interactive Collaboration
Some environments require the ability to display and collaborate on complex data. This includes high-resolution images, such as blueprints or product designs, where granular detail is necessary. This also includes the ability to display and control data from multiples sources simultaneous. For example, when designing a new product the prototype from one participant’s laptop can be displayed at the same time target markets and product messaging is displayed from another participant’s tablet. Video feeds can also be integrated so remote participants can view, display and control content from their location.

Once an organization determines the key functionalities of the room; they can begin reaching out to audio visual integrators to help select the technology that best fits the room’s requirements. The integrator can then begin designing the collaboration environment that will meet the organization’s collaboration needs.

The Yahoo! Fall-Out

Ever since Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! issued her memo calling back remote workers into the office and effectively ending telecommuting within the organization, countless stories and commentaries have been written. These responses have spanned from total disagreement to downright endorsement of the new employment practice.

The interesting thing about the announcement is that it appears to have started to influence other organizations to act the same. Just this week, Best Buy announced that they too would be ending their work from home program. This is particularly noteworthy because Best Buy’s initiative (announced in 2006 and called the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE)) was seen as a trendsetting program and applauded by many HR advocates.

In the case of Best Buy, the change in policy is not as stringent. Managers still have discretion to allow telecommuting but the employees can no longer make that decision. The question now is two-fold: will more companies follow suit and is this the right decision for a company to make?

Mayer noted, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.”

To really understand if this is the “right” decision; let’s take a look at the different types of collaboration that occurs within an organization on a daily basis:

Spontaneous Collaboration:
This method of collaboration occurs when team members run into each other in the hallway and strike up a conversation or perhaps in the cafeteria grabbing a cup of coffee. There is nothing formal about it and it can happen in an instant.

Deliberate Collaboration:
With deliberate collaboration, teams may schedule a time for everyone to get into a conference room and hash out an important idea or project. This might be accompanied by white boarding or some other form of facilitated brainstorming.

Formal Collaboration:
Formal collaboration involves a scheduled meeting with a formal presentation structure. This could be a business review or strategy overview. The major difference between deliberate collaboration and formal collaboration is the presence of a formalized agenda with specific content to be presented.

When reviewing the three collaboration types noted above, what do you lose when your workforce is remote? Spontaneous collaboration is the victim here, at least to an extent. When workers are remote, they are not running into each other randomly and striking up conversations.

All is not lost, however, as many organizations who have implemented collaboration technologies, such as video conferencing, have installed “water cooler” systems that allow remote employees to connect in at will and see what’s going on. While this may not be as spontaneous as being there, it gets remote workers pretty close.

When looking at deliberate and formal collaboration, much of what occurs in these meetings can be recreated with remote workers. Formal collaboration sessions can easily connect in remote team members to view the formal presentation or even present themselves. Technology now makes it possible to easily present, no matter where you are. With deliberate collaboration, remote participants can view white boarding sessions and be involved in the brain storming process. Again this is possible thanks to the latest developments in cloud and collaboration technologies.

Whether the Yahoo! decision was the right call remains to be seen, but other organizations should examine the different types of collaboration that occur within their facilities and see what is most pervasive. Ultimately, it may be about both a technology solution and a people solution.

Boeing’s much anticipated 787 Dreamliner encountered a laundry list of problems which eventually led to the grounding of many of the planes. There are several different theories as to what went wrong and Boeing could have done better. Many have to do with the decision to embrace outsourcing and overall lack of supply chain management.

In a recent Forbes article, Jonathan Salem Baskin is quoted “It didn’t help that the outsourcing plan included skipping the detailed blueprints the company would have normally prepared, and allowing vendors to come up with their own. Delivered components arrived with instructions and notes written in Chinese, Italian, and other languages.”

With the plethora of video conferencing and visual collaboration technologies available it’s surprising that Boeing had this many issues coordinating and communicating with their remote teams. While we can’t know for sure exactly what went wrong or what Boeing did or did not do; we can offer some suggestions as to how organizations can utilize collaboration solutions to their fullest extend and help ensure a seamless supply chain.

A UC solution is a must to connect internal team members assigned to the project. These solutions can even allow approved external team members, such as suppliers, to connect easily. Features such as instant messaging (IM), screen and document sharing, and video conferencing are key components to keeping the lines of communication open. For example, if a supplier has a quick question about the design, he can quickly IM a team member asking the question or if the person is available for a quick chat. Quick video conferences or even formal meetings with video and document sharing can help ensure consistency and reliability among suppliers.

For more crucial aspects of the manufacturing process, such as discussing blueprints and inspecting components, an immersive visual collaboration solution that includes Datapresence (ability to see multiple sources of data) is necessary. Simply showing a single document while the video participants are minimized on screen will not provide the collaboration experience necessary for such critical aspects of the manufacturing process.

Solutions like Oblong or Cyviz combine video conferencing with the ability to share multiple steams of data in real time creating a true collaboration environment. Team members would be able to see detailed designs and prototypes of the outsourced components in addition to the supplier’s team. Both teams would then be able to communicate, give and receive feedback, and discuss any potential issues. By repeating this process with all suppliers, the organization can help ensure consistency among components. They can also connect and facilitate collaboration between the supplier of Component A which connects into Component B from a separate supplier.

Supply chain management is one of the most complicated aspects of any organization as it relies heavily on communication and coordination between two or more parties. By underestimating the importance of communication, an organization can run into problems similar to the ones Boeing faced. On the other hand, by providing both internal and external (supplier) team members with the tools and opportunity to effectively communicate and collaborate and organization can successfully manage all aspects of its supply chain.