Interoperability almost always comes up anytime video conferencing is discussed. But what exactly is interoperability and why is it so important?

The definition of interoperability is the ability to make systems and organizations work together (inter-operate). In the video world, it is the ability for two video conferencing systems to connect with each other. For example, a Polycom system is interoperable with any other Polycom system. Or, a standards-based video system is interoperable with any other standards-based video system. However, standards-based video systems do not natively interoperate with consumer desktop clients like Skype or Google Video Chat.

So why is interoperability so important?

Let’s look at two different video conferencing scenarios.  Apple FaceTime and H.323 Standards-Based Systems (Polycom/Cisco Endpoints).

FaceTime is an extremely easy to use video client that is available on all Apple devices. Simply open the application, click on a name in your contacts list, and you’re automatically connected over video when that person picks up. However, FaceTime is only available on Apple devices. If I want to call my mother with it, she has to have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. If she does not own one of these devices, I simply cannot call her on FaceTime.  While the application may be a terrific way to video conference, it’s only as great as the people who have these devices.

H.323 on the other hand, is a standard video protocol that manufacturers use to allow their systems to speak the same language. Essentially, any system that is based on H.323 standards can communicate with any other system that is based on H.323. As a result, people can video conference anyone on this platform instead of only being able to connect with people who have a device from the same manufacturer.

This is why interoperability is so important – because of the network effect. The value of video conferencing is dependent upon the number of others using it. Or, in other words, the number of different users and systems people can connect to.  If Cisco systems could only connect to Cisco systems the value of video would be extremely limited. What happens if a company with Cisco equipment wants to video conference with one of its suppliers but the supplier has a Polycom video system?  However, if a Cisco endpoint can connect to Polycom, LifeSize, desktop computers, smartphones and tablets – the value rises exponentially.

Another example is desktop unified communications clients such as Microsoft Lync. These clients handle voice, screen sharing, and video all in one application. In many cases, organizations will deploy Lync to thousands of desktop, enabling video conferencing for nearly all its users. With interoperability those users can participate in meetings that are held in conference rooms and with users on different systems. In the case of Lync, native interoperability is becoming more ubiquitous as Lync continues to grow in popularity.

It is important for organizations to ensure whatever solution they implement is truly interoperable and not built as a “walled garden” that can prevent true collaboration from occurring.

Canadian airline WestJet used video conferencing to plan a “Christmas Miracle” for 250 of its passengers this holiday season. They set up Santa chat boxes in terminals at Hamilton and Toronto airports and when passengers scanned their boarding pass they were connected via video conference to Santa Claus. From there, they rattled off their wish list ranging anywhere from socks and underwear to a big screen TV. When their flights took off, WestJet volunteers in Calgary worked with Best Buy and CrossIron Mills to gather the gifts.

Watch the heartwarming video below as these passengers get the shock of their lives when their Christmas wishes come true.

The benefits of video conferencing are undeniable and technological innovations have made video more accessible and easier to use than ever. Unfortunately, some organizations are finding it difficult to drive usage and adoption of these solutions among their workforce.

We created the below infographic to illustrate some of the key elements of an integrated approach to adoption. This not only ensures more users will embrace the technology but it will also make achieving a great ROI possible.

To dig deeper and to understand some of the best practices and key areas to consider, download the whitepaper as well.

AdoptionWhitepaper

Cloud VIdeo Experience

Today IVCi is incredibly excited to reveal our newest service, Cloud Video Experience (CVE). This new offering is a subscription based, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing not only possible but extremely easy. CVE was built to address the key challenges organizations face with video conferencing implementations including:

1. Infrastructure – CVE provides cloud based infrastructure that supports video conferencing endpoint registration, the ability to assign a standard name to your video device (name@domain.com) as well as a global directory and B2B calling.

2. Scalability – All CVE devices and software clients are auto-configured with the click of a link in an email. There is no need to provision additional infrastructure or licenses, it all happens seamlessly.

3. Mobility – Personal Video Accounts, a key feature of CVE, allow users to easily video enable laptops, tablets, and smartphones with full video conferencing capability. These users are able to connect with other users seamlessly.

4. Interoperability – Virtual Meeting Rooms enable multiple users to meet in one “meeting space” in the cloud. These rooms support standard video conferencing systems as well as Microsoft Lync and WebRTC. And for those users who don’t have access to a device with a camera, the Virtual Meeting Rooms support standard audio dial-in.

Video conferencing continues to grow in usage and popularity and CVE is designed to make it easy for organizations of any size to experience the power of visual collaboration.

Here is some additional detail about CVE:

This-week-in-collaboration

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

1. 5 Ways to Untether From the Desk With Video Conferencing 

Using video conferencing to be able to get away from your desk but still stay connected takes some of the stress out of this busy holiday season. Video conferencing can make sure you stay connected, maintain your presence, and meet on the go.

2. Time to Pledge Allegiance to Telework 

March 3-7, 2014 federal employees will be asked to stay at home by their agencies and not come in to the office. This is part of Telework Week, the Mobile Work Exchange’s annual global initiative that encourages governments to pledge to telework.

3. San Antonio License Plate Readers and Video Conferencing Resolve Overdue Traffic Tickets 

Video conferencing improves overdue ticket collection in San Antonio. When officers pull over drivers who have arrest warrants due to unpaid tickets, the offenders can speak with a judge immediately via video conferencing and settle the issue remotely.

4. How Web Conferencing Benefits Employee Training

The use of video conferencing for employee training is becoming more prevalent because it lowers costs to employers, provides a solid training foundation for employees, and makes training of current employees seamless.

5. Establishing Open Lines of Communication is Worth the Investment

Successful businesses rely on the technology solutions that foster collaboration on the go. Have the ability to stay connected from wherever employees are equates to a happier workforce, which often leads to happier customers.