WebRTC - Hype or the Real Deal?

For those who have been watching the collaboration industry closely it is hard to not see a multitude of articles and announcements that discuss WebRTC and the latest product to feature the technology. We have blogged extensively about WebRTC in the past but, in short, WebRTC is a web browser standard that enables real-time audio and video directly in the browser without the need for plugins. The standard is still being developed and has not been completely “ratified” by the governing bodies that ensure web based standards are, well, standard. Browser support is not universal (Chrome, Firefox & Opera support it; Safari, Internet Explorer and others do not). With these limitations in mind, let’s explore what WebRTC can actually enable.

Immediate Access
In the past, joining a rich media experience within your browser would require that a plugin was downloaded. In many cases this is still required; think of web conferencing solutions like WebEx or GoToMeeting. With WebRTC, a developer can utilize the native browser to achieve much of the functionality that their plugin provides. In the case of Cisco, they recently announced WebEx compatibility with Google Chromebooks and that compatibility is being achieved by rebuilding WebEx as a WebRTC native application. Now a user simply clicks a link and they are in the meeting instantly.

Video Enabled Business Processes
Much of our work on a daily basis happens inside specific business applications such as CRMs, EHRs, or other custom designed solutions. Since WebRTC is web based, it is much easier to embed web assets into an application and allow video communication to happen right in the system workers use every day. From a healthcare perspective, many doctors and physicians live in their hospital’s Electronic Health Records system. With WebRTC enabled assets, a doctor, nurse, or other employee could be reviewing a patient’s records and immediately initiative a video call on that screen. They would continue to review the data and be able to collaborate with each other in real time, without leaving the application. The productivity gains can be enormous!

Reduce Security Concerns
Many organizations choose to lock down user computer systems from the installation of applications and other components to reduce the risk of malware and viruses. Only when IT is involved can an application be involved. This lock down, while good for security, can be bad for productivity. If a user wants to join a media rich session they would needed to request IT to install a needed plugin. With WebRTC, that employee can utilize the native browser they use every day to join these sessions without having to wait for IT to set-up the application.

Extended Reach
A critical component of collaboration technology is the ability to bring anyone, from anywhere into a meeting without a heavy burden. Previously connecting to a partner or a customer over video required the installation of proprietary software and some finagling of firewall settings, etc. With WebRTC enabled solutions, users simply receive a link to the meeting and they can join instantly. With the case of many solutions out there these links can connect users into sessions that also feature users connected with unified communications solutions (Lync, Jabber) and standard video conferencing systems (Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize).

The use cases for WebRTC are significant and the technology is already opening new doors. While the standard still has a way to go with both ratification and browser support, I feel strongly that WebRTC is here to stay and certainly worth of the hype it has created!

Webinar: Driving Usage and Adoption of Visual Collaboration

“When organizations embrace collaboration across their workforce, something truly remarkable occurs. Individuals come together with common goals and their collective power can accomplish far greater things than each individual on their own.”

In a world where instant messaging, email, and on-line audio meetings reign supreme, shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communications (UC) solutions can be extremely challenging.

Implementing a new technology is a significant change in the organization that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.

Join us for an informative webinar that will cover several key steps an organization must take in order optimize usage and adoption of visual collaboration among their workforce. This includes:

  • Executive Support & Planning.
  • Identifying & Integrating the Technology
  • Designing Processes & Procedures
  • Disseminating to the People

Driving Usage and Adoption of Visual Collaboration
[Click Here to Register]
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)

register

 

From healthcare and education to small business and the enterprise, organizations across the globe are beginning to embrace new technologies that are designed to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Not only are these socially responsible decisions good for our environment, they are also good for your financial bottom line.

Video conferencing is often an ideal solution for businesses of all sizes looking to enhance collaboration within their organization. How can your business reduce their carbon footprint and benefit from implementing video conferencing? The infographic below explores some of those ways and how video conferencing can assist with “going green”.

Reducing-Carbon-Footprint-Infographic---320x1000

4 Cool Uses for Video Recording and Streaming

Content continues to be king and as we discuss collaboration and communications, visual content plays a huge role. Real-time interaction on video is the norm and major meetings and announcements are made through the technology. Additionally, users continue to expect to find video content when researching topics, new products, etc.

As real-time video has made major advancements, so has the area of recording & streaming. Any video interaction that occurs now can be recorded and made available for immediate playback. This content can be as a simple as a meeting between a few colleagues that a team member was unable to attend or a massive training session that is available for thousands to view on-demand. With that in mind, here are some great uses for recording and streaming platforms:

Executive Road Show

The days of C level executives travelling around the world to all of their office locations to make announcements and presentations to teams are numbered. Video streaming makes it possible for an executive team to sit at their desk and broadcast a live video stream out to the entire organization. This can occur in real-time and Q&A sessions can be available during the event. Streaming technology makes it possible for thousands of viewers to participate simultaneously. After the live event ends, the session can be archived and made available for immediate review for those who could not attend live. These types of events make it easy for executives to get their message out to the masses and maintain consistency in that message.

Investor Relationships/Earnings Calls

More and more organizations are forgoing the traditional earnings conference call and are opting to stream live video to investors and analysts. This added visual component can add some personality to the call and can take the interaction between those reporting the financial results and those receiving it to a new level.

Human Resources

Human Resources are responsible for a myriad of items including recruiting, new employee orientation, benefits and more. Many times HR must disseminate new information regarding a change in employee health benefits or conduct training to fulfill compliance requirements. With recording and streaming, HR teams can produce high quality content once and be confident that it can be shared with the entire organization with the same consistent message. For organizations with tens of thousands of employees it is impossible to lock everyone down for one or two sessions. Additionally, these recordings can be tracked and serve as proof of compliance with regulatory and employee regulations.

Marketing

There is no better way to market a product or service than by SHOWING potential customers rather than just telling them about it. Marketing teams can create interactive sessions that feature streaming video content along with slides and other content. These events can happen in real-time and an opportunity for customers to really engage with an organization’s offering. And this content can be made available as an on-demand recording, providing another avenue for lead generation for the marketing team. An example of this type of content is a recent IVCi session covering Telehealth and some of the available solutions. We utilized a video stream along with slides and interactive Q&A. You can review the session HERE.

Clearly video streaming and recording provides a great way to share key messages and make it available for review, on-demand. As the technology as improved, more and more departments within an organization can utilize this technology without the new for IT resources and dedicated staff.

Video conferencing is a great tool…when it works. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions for software video clients along with advice on how to fix the issues.

Q. What should I do when users I call cannot see me but I can see them?

A. The following actions can be taken to try to resolve one‐way video issues:

  1. Check to make sure that you have a camera connected to your computer and that it is recognized by the video application.
    • Navigate to Settings in the video application then check the video or video input section. Make sure that the correct video device is selected.
    • If the video device is not listed, you may need to install drivers. Check with your IT department for the latest drivers that are appropriate for your platform, or contact your camera vendor for further assistance.
  2. If your camera has a privacy shutter, (for example, Cisco TelePresence Precision HD USB camera), make sure that it is not in the closed position.

Q. What should I do when users I call cannot hear me or my volume is low?

A. The following actions can be taken to try to resolve one‐way audio issues:

  1. Check to make sure that you have a microphone on your computer or webcam. Most laptops, along with most USB webcams, include built‐in microphones.
  2. Check that the microphone is not muted in the video application.
  3. Make sure that the microphone is not muted in your operating system or your microphone volume is set too low.
    • On Macintosh systems, navigate to System Preferences > Sound > Input.
    • On Windows systems, you can check this setting by navigating to Control Panel > Sound and Audio Devices > Audio > Sound Recording Volume. Check the sound level of the microphone and adjust to a comfortable level in the operating system and in the video application.If you have multiple microphones connected (i.e. built-in microphone in your laptop and USB webcam), check to make sure the correct microphone is selected. Navigate to settings in the video application then check the audio or audio input section and select the correct audio device.
  4. If you have multiple microphones connected (i.e. built-in microphone in your laptop and USB webcam), check to make sure the correct microphone is selected. Navigate to settings in the video application then check the audio or audio input section and select the correct audio device.

Q. What can I do if my computer slows down or locks up during a call?

A. These symptoms may indicate insufficient system resources that affect RAM or CPU capabilities on your computer. The following actions can be taken to try to resolve this issue:

  1. Check to make sure that your computer system meets the recommended settings for the video application listed in the HW and SW requirements.
  2. If your system meets the recommendations and you continue to observe this issue, adjust the Network Settings in video application to a level that reduces system slowdown. Move the Maximum Incoming Bandwidth and Maximum Outgoing Bandwidth sliders down until you find the setting that reduces choppy audio, video and high system resource utilization.

Q. What should I do when my video call is choppy, distorted or the audio is out of sync with video?

A. This is typically a sign of low or insufficient bandwidth to support the video call. The following actions can be taken:

  1. If you are on a smartphone or tablet with a 3G or a 4G connection, check the signal strength. If signal strength is low move to a different area or join the call over a Wi-Fi connection.
  2. If you are joined over a Wi-Fi connection at a public location (i.e. hotel, Starbucks, etc.) you may need to purchase premium high-speed internet access or move to a different location.
  3. If this is a reoccurring issue at your office or home, you may need to upgrade your bandwidth levels. Talk to your IT department or cable provider for different options.

Q. What should I do when my video application cannot detect my camera?

A. Some applications (Webex, Yahoo Messenger, etc) take possession of any camera they detect in the system, leaving your video application without a camera to use. To prevent this issue and ensure that the video application retains the camera for video calling, take the following actions:

  1. Shut down any applications that are running that would take control of your camera.
  2. Start your video application and begin your call, making sure that the camera is connected and turned on
  3. After your video application is in the call, start your other applications.

Q. What should I do when my video application continues to display the last frame of the shared presentation?

A. Unfortunately, there is no fix for this known issue. As a workaround, the system sending the content must stop and restart presentation sharing to properly display the presentation. This should ONLY happen if a system places a video client on hold to take another call.