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Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration. 

Benefits of video conferencing include less travel, but it’s not No. 1
For decades, enterprises have turned to video conferencing in large part as a means of reducing business travel expenses. However, a recent survey by Wainhouse Research of 4,700 end users of video conferencing found that the incentives for using video are shifting: 94% noted that the biggest benefit was increased efficiency and productivity; 88% cited increased impact of discussions; and 87% said video expedited decision-making — the same percentage who said it reduced travel.

Telework Week Saved Feds 14 Million Miles, $13 Million
This year’s Telework Week, which ran March 3-7, drew 163,973 pledges, more than four times the 2011 number. The average Telework Week participant teleworked two days during the week, avoided a 45-mile round-trip commute into the office and saved 4.5 hours and $90 in commuting costs for the week. Nearly all (94 percent) pledges came from the federal government, enabling federal employees to save a collective $13 million in commuting costs, avoid 14 million miles of travel and gain back more than 716,000 hours.

Concierge healthcare services via video – a concept on the rise
Although not a new concept, concierge healthcare services used to be a luxury that only a certain percentage of Americans could possibly afford. Changes in the healthcare system and economic drivers may be changing that. Under this model, doctors essentially work under retainer, being paid monthly fees to offer healthcare services to a patient or family. Healthcare practices operating in a concierge healthcare model could utilize telemedicine solutions to conduct many of their house calls and appointments. This diminishes the travel element and enables medical professionals to see just as many, if not more, patients each day. Telemedicine can also allow doctors to cast a much wider net for their patients.

Mobility Tops the List of Digital Priorities
If you thought either big data analytics or cloud computing initiatives rank at the top of today’s digital agenda, guess again. Mobility strategies hold a clear edge, according to a recent survey from Accenture. The resulting report, “Mobility: Fueling the Digital Surge,” demonstrates how much further ahead “mobility leader” organizations are on their progress toward these goals, compared to the rest of the field. And while the required commitment here is clearly evident at the very highest levels of organizational leadership, there are still many obstacles that CIOs must overcome.

Get ready for new ATM’s
Recently, more and more banks are starting to equip their ATM’s with technological upgrades, one of those being video conferencing. Banks are working on technology tools to give customers new, faster ways to interact with their branches. ATMs with touch screens will soon work with our smartphones. New apps will help zip cash to you as quickly as you can snap a picture. Videoconferencing with representatives in call centers lets banks extend hours for basic services and screen tellers can handle about 95 percent of typical bank transactions. This allows both customers and banks to increase productivity and efficiency when handling transactions and consultations.

Weekly-Re-cap-Banner-NEW-BLUEWelcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

Virtual conferencing is ‘an effective weight loss tool
A weight management program delivered virtually through video conferencing is an effective weight loss tool, according to a new study. Forty-seven obese men, aged between 21 and 60 years old, participated in a 12-week group weight management intervention led by a healthcare provider. Participants in the intervention group lost around nine pounds more than the men not involved in the virtual conferences.

Handling conference calls can be trickier than people think
The awkward silences. The false-starts. The odd background noise. Crying babies, barking dogs, hammer drills. For anyone who’s ever been on a conference call, you know the symptoms of a terrible conference call. This outlines a few simple pointers can help in both audio and video conferencing.

Video links to ease psychiatric services workload
Mental health patients will be treated through video-conferencing for the first time in the south-west as services experience a flood of new cases. South West Healthcare (SWH) has gained $25,000 to install telepsychiatry equipment to treat patients in the far corners of the region. SWH director of mental health services Caroline Byrne told The Standard the service was seeing increased demand “outweighing” the ability to meet it. “This will be the first time that we’re actually using video conference screens for telepsychiatry,” Ms Byrne said.

Customers gain the upper hand in video conferencing market
The “software revolution” of 2013 was the major catalyst for change within the video conferencing industry, with all major video conferencing manufacturers shifting their priorities and moving their focus from specialized hardware to systems software solutions. Many new players have also recently entered the market, bringing new approaches to the implementations of video conferencing systems. This has created serious competition, and with it the promise of many desirable and useful features for users.

4 trends shaping video collaboration in 2014
In today’s business world, with rising economic pressure and immense global competition, improved efficiency has become a crucial factor. One of the biggest advances in enterprise communication available today is the use of video collaboration. This tool is increasingly transforming workplaces, as the benefits of real-time engagement with dispersed teams take collaboration beyond a conventional office environment.

Being successful in the market today is very closely related to how well retailers are responding to evolving technology and customer needs. Likewise, how retailers implement these technologies today will play an important role in how they accommodate future technology demands.

The retail industry is full of amazing use cases for collaboration technology. The Infographic below explores some of the latest trends in technology used in retail and the types of solutions being utilized.

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If you’re interested in learning more about collaboration trends in retail and how IVCi can help you implement those technologies, tweet us @IVCiLLC or click here to send us an email.

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Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

7 steps to unified comm – and control over mobility services
In the three years since passage of the Telework Enhancement Act, government agencies have been spending a significant share of their time and budget to make sure they have what they need to support their exploding mobile workforce. Even so, all too often, agencies have launched mobile and collaboration technologies irregularly and without coordination, largely because new requirements popped up or budget became available.

Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve
Collaboration applications have a purpose: to bring people together whenever there are decisions to make and information to share. The experiences of our customers have shown that regular fine-tuning of a collaboration infrastructure is necessary in how IT organizations look at optimization. Using Optimization services can pave the way for a smooth transition – and prevent unpleasant surprises — when new applications are ready to move into production.

Bringing healthcare services to students at school
For communities that don’t have access to local healthcare providers, or for families that simply can’t afford to visit doctors and specialists, the local public school can be the primary healthcare provider for their children. Unfortunately, the healthcare services available in these schools are often limited. To help increase the access to quality healthcare services, many schools are looking to telemedicine solutions. Utilizing advanced video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions connected to scopes and other medical devices, these telemedicine solutions enable an on-site nurse or aid to consult with a nurse practitioner or doctor via video to deliver care to a student.

3 Tips for Overcoming Open-Space AV Challenges
One of the many challenges facing commercial audiovisual professionals today is the lack of space for installed equipment. The move to open space in the corporate world has burdened many design engineers with the challenge of where to put the gear. Today’s office spaces are taking on the characteristics of living rooms, home-style kitchens and dens. Gone are the cookie-cutter, four-walled conference rooms and cubicle spaces. This switch in office design is pushing us in the AV industry to change our traditional approach to system integration.

What Is the U.S. Digital Government Office?
According to a press release from Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), “Studies show that 94 percent of major government IT projects between 2003 and 2012 came in over budget, behind schedule, or failed completely.” Congresswoman Eshoo, a member of the communications and technology subcommittee, along with Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.), proposed that a U.S. Digital Government Office be created to fix what has become a major problem for the federal government. The bill, known as the Reforming Federal Procurement of Information Technology Act (RFP-IT), would be a key step toward eliminating wasteful spending in the government.

“Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.”
            – Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

There is no denying that Microsoft Lync is experiencing explosive growth as a unified communications solution for organizations large and small. From IM and presence to full enterprise voice and HD video conferencing, Lync provides a total communications solution.

Last week Microsoft held its 2nd Annual Lync Conference in Las Vegas. This conference nearly doubled in size from 2013 when it was held in San Diego. This massive increase in attendance is a strong endorsement of Lync’s growth and presence in the market.

At this year’s conference, newly named Skype and Lync VP Gurdeep Singh Pall took to the stage to deliver this year’s keynote address. From the beginning there was a clear message that Lync and Skype are truly coming together. The presentation began with a look at the growth both Lync and Skype have been experiencing. One particularly amazing statistic was that one third of all global long distance calling occurs via Skype.

Lync has become Microsoft’s fastest growing business unit with yearly revenues now exceeding $1 billion and the business unit has seen 38 consecutive quarters of double digital growth. Additionally, 60% of enterprises have or are deploying Lync. The focus on the conference then shifted to some of the latest product and technology updates. Derek Burney, Corporate of Vice President of Strategic Relations and Solutions for Lync and Skype, took the stage to conduct the demos. He focused on several key areas:

Mobility:
Lync now supports iOS, Android (now both smartphones and tablets), Windows, and Mac OS X. In a matter of moments, Burney created a meeting with every compatible device in one session. Key features now available in Lync mobile include:

  • Content viewing (native for Powerpoint)
  • Invite additional participants from the app
  • Anonymous Join

Microsoft is sending a clear message in that mobility and cross platform support is incredibly important to their strategy.

Interoperability:
As part of the demo, Burney was able to invite a TANDBERG (clearly didn’t want to mention Cisco’s name) video conferencing system right into a Lync session. The connection was seamless and the quality was quite good.

Skype to Lync:
At the 2013 conference, audio and IM between Lync and Skype clients was demoed. Burney brought things up another notch and demoed a video call between Skype and Lync. The message here is that connecting an enterprise platform to a consumer platform creates incredible opportunities for B2C communication. This functionality will be released later this year.

Embedding Video Anywhere
As many other communications vendors have presented, this demo featured a website (in this case for a healthcare network) that allowed the user to have a real-time video conversation right on the site. Most vendors have chosen to go with the open standards WebRTC protocol to achieve embedded video. Microsoft has chosen not to embrace WebRTC and instead has created its own JavaScript APIs to achieve this. It should be interesting to see how this impacts the adoption of WebRTC.

After the technology demo ended, two large scale Lync customers (Herb Keller, VP and CTO of Adventist Healthcare & Dean Leung, CIO of Holland & Knight) were invited on stage to discuss their particular use case. This discussion begins at around 42 minutes in the video and is a fascinating look at how two very different types of organizations have integrated Lync into their business models and workflows.

In closing, Gurdeep Singh Pall discussed Microsoft’s vision of communications for the future. This includes total integration across all platforms with context. Meaning, systems understanding who is involved in meetings and providing context based searching and alerts (see 01:05 in the video). Finally, Microsoft’s goal is to have 1 billion users of their communications platforms in the next ten years. They are calling this next era, Universal Communications.

We live in some amazing times with amazing technology and tools. Microsoft’s goals are ambitious but have the potential to connect people like never before!