The federal government has experienced the benefits of video conferencing and now new legislation is being introduced to demand it. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania has introduced a new bill, the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013, into the House of Representatives that encourages the usage of collaborative solutions, such as video conferencing, to reduce the amount spent on travel by federal agencies. If this bill passes, at least 50% of federal travel expenditures will be cut, saving taxpayer dollars.

Many of the benefits of video conferencing have been mentioned in the bill. While it will not only save money, it will also cut down carbon emissions as there will be less of a need for travel. It will also help in facilitating staff training, meetings, and enhance employee productivity.

The bill cites previous legislation, like the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which required every federal agency to establish policies that enable remote working and greater flexibility in management of the federal government’s work force through the usage of telework programs. Combining the intentions of these two bills will ultimately create a beneficial system.

Other governments worldwide have already discovered the benefits of using video conferencing. The UK government put Operation StepChange into effect in order to plan for the chaos of the 2012 London Olympics. This plan encouraged business professionals to change their working practices and utilize video conferencing, particularly with the excess amount of tourism in London. There is also discussion of making this change permanent, depending on the plan’s success, “Depending on the success of Operation StepChange, there are those who advocate making these reforms permanent. This could transform the civil service as we know it – and that is getting the interest of some of Britain’s political classes,” says Max Smolaks.

The introduction of this bill indicates that video conferencing has become a priority for the political system in the United States. Hopefully, the United States will pursue this need as other countries have and encourage the use of video conferencing in order to gain greater sustainability and create a more efficient workforce.

Video conferencing has quickly become a major tool that many companies utilize. Cory Johnson of Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West” talked with Cisco Senior Vice President Collaboration Technology Group, Rowan Trollope, via video about the adoption rate of video conferencing.

Trollope gave some insight into Cisco saying that about 38% of Cisco’s employees do not work at the same site as their managers; however,  it’s not really an issue  thanks to video conferencing. Video collaboration technology has allowed managers and employees to stay in touch with one another and chat about certain projects or simply to keep one another updated. Connecting via high video quality is just as productive, if not more productive, than in person interaction because video conferencing forces participants to sit down, discuss the issue at hand, and then find a solution.

Video conferencing has not only advanced the companies that utilize it, but the technology itself has also advanced, allowing users to collaborate on the go on devices such as cell phones, laptops or tablets. Rather than being limited to a conference room, users can participate in a conference via mobile devices due to the advancement in equipping such devices with cameras. Now, it is possible to make a video conference call just about anywhere.

According to Trollope, about 89% of Cisco employees work at home once a week, and are able to communicate with other employees and participate in meetings through telecommuting. It is very difficult to follow along on a conference call when there is no face to put to a voice. The quality of an audio call is simply not the same as a video call. When you use high definition video, it is much easier to follow the conversation and participants can focus on the task at hand as opposed to trying to figure out who is speaking.

While it seems that only large corporations would find a need for video conferencing, smaller companies and even individuals can utilize the benefits of video conferencing. Companies of all shapes and sizes currently use video conferencing as a key tool and are pulling for quality and reliable video conferencing devices to benefit their own business.

To see Cory Johnson’s interview with Rowan Trollope, check out the video below and see how Cisco has grown because of video conferencing!

 

When thinking about movie production, video conferencing and collaboration is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, producer Jerry Bruckheimer agrees that thanks to video conferencing, producing films is much more successful and efficient. Rather than spending excess amounts of money on travel costs so directors, producers, and actors can be in the same location, video collaboration has allowed the flow of communication to be unaffected by the lack of physical presence. Bruckheimer certainly utilizes his Cisco TelePresence set up, and is in constant communication with everyone on his production team.

When making a movie, it is nearly impossible to have every member of the production team in the same location. As a result, video collaboration equipment is becoming the newest member of every production team. Directors and producers can work with their cast from across the globe, and work out final touches with editors in an instant. There is a large amount of data that is transferred throughout the film-making process, and Cisco TelePresence makes it easier to move around. The way that technology has changed the way films are produced is remarkable; pretty soon even movie theaters will be digital, and physical film will no longer be needed.

With this drastic change in technology, many people question whether it’s the best option, particularly in Hollywood when the director/actor relationship is key. Losing that in-person interaction is a difficult thing to replace, however the face to face interaction provided by video collaboration is helpful in establishing that relationship. Video conferencing has not only helped producers keep in touch with their teams, it has also helped choreographers teach their dance students, and even inmates going through arraignment.

The benefits of video conferencing are well known in the enterprise world; now they are making their way into other career fields as the technology continues to grow. Soon we will see the impact of video conferencing and collaboration in everyday life.

Check out the video below to watch Cisco’s interview with award winning film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and see for yourself how much of a difference video conferencing has already made in the film industry!

Polycom has recently announced its latest addition to its video collaboration family, the Polycom CX5500 and CX 5100 Unified Conference Station, a 360 degree panoramic 1080p HD video collaboration solution custom-built for Microsoft Lync 2013 and the first ever in the video conferencing industry. These stations are designed to create an around-the-table experience with a 360 degree camera panoramic view of the room, allowing all participants to engage.

Polycom has also announced that it has received Lync 2013 qualification for its Polycom VVX Business Media Phones, strengthening the partnership between the two companies by expanding Polycom solutions that are compatible with Lync products.

Why is this great for customers?

  • Easy to use. With Polycom CX5500 and CX1500, the operator has options that allows for easy usage. A new user interface and design system allows easy access to launch or join a call directly from a Lync user environment. Users can directly connect the CX5500 or the CX5100 via USB to a Lync-run computer. These two solutions can also be used with the Lync Room System, combining a 360-degree camera experience with touchscreen monitors and tabletop touch controllers.
  • Better productivity. The Polycom CX5500 and the CX5100 are placed in the center of the table, and therefore allow a natural conversation by engaging all participants simultaneously, with not only those sitting around the table, but other participants who are not. Both systems include 1080p active speaker video while displaying 30 frames per second at a 360-degree panoramic view. Conversations are clear with Polycom HD voice.
  • Financially beneficial. The Polycom CX5500 is both an HD video collaboration environment and a fully featured SIP conference phone, which ultimately reduces capital costs for organizations that require both systems. Since it is so easy to use, the company can also save on training and IT costs.

While desktop video has many advantages, it can become cluttered when connecting multiple groups of people. These solutions are great for organizations looking to extend their Lync application into a conference room environment. Contact us if you have any questions or would like more information on designing or installing collaboration room environments.

Collaboration is the new buzzword in business today. Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about a new way to connect people together. And why not? Collaboration features tremendous benefits including driving creativity and innovation. As a result, many organizations are trying to foster more collaborative environments through the development of a collaboration strategy.

Pixar, the animator of our favorite blockbuster hits, created a highly collaborative environment and has been reaping numerous benefits. Every single one of their films has been a hit from the early days of Toy Story and most recently Monsters U. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, truly recognized the importance of collaboration in the creativity process.

In an HBR article he states “creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems.” While developing and then producing a film seems to require far more creativity, many enterprise organizations can benefit from this process. Creativity doesn’t just have to be in the form of art; it can come in the form of a new product that revolutionizes the market or a new, more efficient process that reduces costs.

Getting people to work together effectively can be tough though. Trust is a key component. As we previously mentioned, trust allows people to freely express their ideas because they’re not afraid of being judged. Therefore, Pixar promotes “an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashing everyone’s creativity.”

A trusting environment is the foundation of any collaborative organization. If people are not free to express themselves and their ideas they will simply follow the status-quo instead of challenging the norm. Pixar encourages their employees to express their ideas in three ways. First, employees can approach members of any department to solve a problem without having to go through management. Second, animation work is shown daily and members from any discipline within the organization can note what they liked and didn’t like and why. Third, by encouraging new employees to speak their mind and challenge the way things are done.

“My intent is to persuade them that we haven’t gotten it all figured out and that we want everyone to question why we’re doing something that doesn’t seem to make sense to them. We do not want people to assume that because we are successful, everything we do is right.” – Ed Catmull

While the animation sessions are very industry specific, all organizations should encourage fresh perspectives and ensure that different departments can work together effectively. There are many technology solutions that can facilitate this; however, simply implementing technology is not enough. A clear collaboration strategy that focuses on strategic collaborations that deliver upon the organization’s goals must be in place.