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.

Advancements in video conferencing technology have continued to propel its usage and adoption. Cost of ownership along with different interoperability barriers have decreased while ease of use and scalability have increased.  It’s no wonder that 76% of respondents in a recent survey conducted by Polycom and Redshift Research say they use video solutions at work today while 56% of those users participate in at least one call per week.

Video conferencing is quickly becoming the “go to” tool in business today. Check out the infographic below for other interesting facts from the survey including top dos and don’ts during video calls.

This-week-in-collaboration

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

1. Distance Education 2.0

The MOOC movement allows professors to reach anyone in the world with an internet connection through these online open courses. Specifically, China has put a focus on MOOC’s in order to try and improve their domestic education.

2. Taking Video Conferencing out of the boardroom

With mobile devices being used for video conferencing increasing over the last couple years, companies have been able to expand their video environment outside of the boardroom. This is due in part to the interoperability and decreased costs that mobile devices bring to the video conferencing industry.

3. Doctor Visit in the Palm of your hand

New technology allows mobile users to pay a fee to find a practitioner for an immediate live video visit. This can help increase access to doctors regardless of time or location.

4. The tricky balancing act of mobile security

As the demand for mobility and BYOD increases, the need for more advanced mobile security policies increases as well. The main challenge when creating these policies tends to be allowing employees the information that they need without compromising the data or infrastructure.

5. The many advantages of Video Interviews 

Both employers and job seekers can benefit from using video conferencing for interviews. This outlines the benefits for both parties as well as certain things to take in to consideration as the interviewee.

Part One and Part Two in this series focused on having a solid usage plan as well as properly preparing your network for mobile video. This last part focuses on adoption of mobile video and a positive end user experience. Usage, adoption, and positive experiences are paramount when rolling out a new technology. Having a clear program in place for those aspects helps to ensure adoption and a positive end user experience. This plan focuses on the following key areas:

  • Promotion
  • Training
  • Support
  • Tracking

All of these pieces go together to best create a usage and adoption plan. Starting with promoting the new technology is as important as tracking usage and user experience as an on-going process. Understanding all of the steps in this process will help to create an effective implementation as well as assist in ensuring a positive on-going experience.

Download our User Experience and Adoption Checklist to help you put a solid plan in place.

Mobile Video Part 3-CTA Button

5 Best Practices for Conducting a Video Call

Video conferencing has proven to be a great way to enhance collaboration and increase productivity. In the last few years, video has gained popularity due to technology advancements and ease of use improvements. That said, there are important user elements to keep in mind to ensure a successful video call.

Here are five best practices to keep in mind:

1. Lighting: Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a video call and bad lighting can take a good quality to poor quality very quickly. First, make sure there is enough light in the room. If dimly lit, turn more lights on or add a lamp to your workstation. Second, look at the direction of the light. If your lighting is coming from directly behind you, particularly from a window, then you are going to appear as a very dark shadow to the person you are speaking with. It would be best to move to where the window is not directly behind you, close the blinds, or try and counter the light with a lamp on you desk.. Lastly, overhead lighting can create a lot of shadows. Having a lamp pointing at you on your desk can help with creating the ideal lighting that is pointing towards you and illuminating the face.

2. Camera Angle: testing and adjusting your camera angle prior to the call is important in ensuring proper set-up. Using the self-view mode can help to give you a good idea of how you will appear to the participant on the other end of the call. If on a laptop, positioning your web cam at eye level is a good way to avoid awkward angles. If conducting a video call on a mobile device, keeping the device as steady as possible while also holding it out in front of you at eye level are very important. When using a room based system, zoom the camera to focus on the participants in the room while making sure that everyone on the call is in the frame.

3. Speaker/Volume: There are a few important aspects you want to pay attention to when it comes to speakers and volume while on a video call. First, test your speakers and audio prior to the call to ensure they are working properly. Second, using a headset can help with reducing outside noise, echo, and improving overall audio quality when using a laptop or mobile device for your video call. Lastly, if on a larger multiparty call, mute yourself when not speaking so as to avoid any added noise.

4. Eye contact/Multitasking: Often on video calls, people will look down to take notes or work on their computer. Try to look in to the camera while speaking and avoid looking down for long periods of time. Also, when sharing content, place the content on the same level as the camera so as to not appear you are looking away while presenting. Because eye contact is so important in a video call, try to avoid multi-tasking including checking email, looking at your phone, or even getting up. This can be very distracting for other parties on the call, and it can create the appearance that you are not actively participating in the call. Eliminating distractions in your environment can help with keeping you focused on the call at hand.

5. Bandwidth: Having adequate bandwidth is one of the most important elements when conducting a video call. Testing your video prior to a meeting helps to ensure you have adequate bandwidth for the call. Required network speeds for video conferencing vary depending on the solution. For example, consumer applications tend to require less bandwidth, whereas enterprise options can require more. Likewise, depending on the solution, multiparty calls can increase requirements as well.