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.

Microsoft Lync is an amazing unified communications and visual collaboration tool that continues to see major adoption across all areas of business. However, there are integration challenges with traditional endpoints and other standard-based video systems. Ray Beaulieu, Senior Director of  Network Operations and Infrastructure at Charles River Labs, talks about some of these challenges as well as gives insight on how the Acano solution helped solve these challenges.

Enterprise Connect 2014 Recap

As I boarded my flight home from Orlando last Thursday I sifted through all of the great things I saw while at Enterprise Connect as well as the fantastic customer and partner interaction I had. Enterprise Connect continues to grow in its size and scope and is quickly becoming THE show for unified communications and collaboration.

Looking back at all the sessions, keynotes, and vendors there were several key trends that emerged from the show that are worthy of discussion.

Lync Domination
The adoption of Microsoft Lync as a full unified communications solution continues to accelerate. At IVCi’s booth this year there were so many companies looking for guidance on how to integrate Lync into the rest of their technology stack (room video conferencing, mobility, etc). Nearly every conversation we had in the IVCi booth focused, at least, partially on Lync. In Gurdeep Singh Pall’s keynote he revealed that 60% of enterprises have deployed or are planning to deploy Lync. Based upon the interactions at show, this does not seem unrealistic. Beyond the countless deployments, it was clear from the number of solutions on the show floor featuring Lync integration that its presence is ever expanding.

Single Solution, Not So Fast…
Manufacturers have been touting the concept of a single solution for many years. They wanted users to implement their solution across the board and rely on one source for everything, namely because it would lock their users in. However, it was clear that this trend is just not happening. In both my own interactions as well as in numerous panel discussions, the topic of single source came up. Ultimately, organizations are implementing multiple solutions for a myriad of reasons. The end result is a lot of technology that simply does not talk to each other properly. Providers like Acano are looking to be the connection between many of these environments and help to provide a more, pardon the pun, unified solution.

WebRTC…Getting There
This year’s WebRTC conference within a conference was another sell out with standing room attendance for most sessions. More and more vendors are turning to WebRTC to help solve interoperability challenges and to create a single click solution. Many manufacturers are embracing this technology (Unifiy’s Project Ansible is entirely WebRTC) but challenges continue. Browser ubiquity is not there yet, Chrome, Opera and Firefox are supported, but others are not (Internet Explorer, Safari). Even within the browsers supporting the standard we are seeing a bit of a fork in terms of functionality. Chrome now supports two-way content sharing, which is a big development, especially for content centric collaboration sessions. This functionality is not yet available in other WebRTC implementations. WebRTC is making major strides but it has not truly arrived at the level of ubiquity it needs. The next year should be interesting to see how this develops.

It’s All About the Experience
From the keynotes to the show floor; many were speaking less and less about the thechnology and more about the user experience. This is perhaps the most promising trend in the industry as manufacturers are really starting to focus on the user and not whiz-bang features. The proof will be in the pudding, but this is an exciting trend that I certainly hope will continue.

For someone who has worked in the world of collaboration and unified communications for a number of years it is easy to get carried away by the latest cool technology but this year I was just reminded by how “cool” collaboration technology is and how much it has become a part of business.  I look forward to this year’s developments and Enterprise Connect 2015. See you there!

What interested you most at Enterprise Connect? Tweet us @IVCiLLC!

Big data is one of the biggest trends in enterprise organizations today. Everybody is talking about how it can provide valuable insights and assist organizations in making better business decisions. But what exactly is Big Data? Where do you find it? What can it do?  Let’s start from the beginning:

What is Big Data?

According to SAS, (along with Wikipedia), “Big Data is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured.” Structured data is, in fact, structured data; think of transaction history at retail chain or an error log at a manufacturing plant. It is easily organized and interpreted. For example, one can look at the data, see that sales spike from 12-1 pm, and infer that it is because people are shopping on their lunch break.

Unstructured data on the other hand, is not easily organized or interpreted by traditional reports or data models because of it’s typically text heavy nature. Forbes mentions Metadata, Tweets and other social media posts as good examples of unstructured data.

Where Can You Find Big Data?

The cost of storing information, or data, has significantly decreased over the past ten years. As a result, many organizations have compiled significant amounts of data around many aspects of business from finance and operations to sales and marketing. However, as Gary Audin said, “Big Data is nothing until it is analyzed so that conclusions can be gleaned and its meaning determined.” So, while organizations have amassed all of this data, it is providing relatively little value until it can be analyzed.

A great way to do this is through data visualization, or taking the massive amounts of data and creating graphical and other pictorial representations. Combining structured and unstructured data sets in a visualized format can help discover hidden correlations which can provide valuable insight on different trends within a market or organization.

How Can Organizations Use This Data?

Big Data can be used in a multitude of different ways depending on what data organizations have and what goals they are looking to accomplish. Here are a few examples of how different organizations can use Big Data:

  1. Discover Market Trends: Organizations can track keywords, early adopters and other influences on social media sites to uncover hidden market trends. For example, if a brand starts seeing a lot of social media chatter on features or enhancements to a product genre, they can utilize this data to create a new version of the product or release a software update.
  2. Track Buying Behaviors: A hotel chain can use data visualization models to track room rates and usage by location and date. Combining this with consumer buying behaviors when they visit specific locations, the hotel can uncover different buying patterns and behaviors.
  3. Analyze Productivity: Manufacturing companies can combine data on plant efficiency, raw material cost, and other contributing aspects, to discover different ways to cut costs and enhance efficiency.

These are just a few use cases for Big Data; there are countless other applications and ways to utilize this data. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can visualize your data tweet us @IVCiLLC or click here to send us an email.

Keep Your Customers In Focus

Focus groups have been around for years; they provide companies with valuable insights on the viability of products, services, marketing campaigns and more. However, the time, effort and costs associated with holding focus groups have traditionally been high. In order to get the wide range of opinions required, organizations need to hold multiple focus groups across multiple geographic regions. Previously, there was no real way to quickly connect to various demographic & geographic consumers.

Enter video conferencing.

Organizations can now connect to consumers like never before. Informal chat sessions along with formal focus groups can easily be held with the click of a button. All consumers need is a personal computer and a webcam.

Here are just a few ways organizations can utilize video conferencing solutions to conduct market research:

Real-Time Feedback: Brands can connect to current product users to find out what they love about the product, what needs improvement or what features they can add. This can be done on a one-on-one basis or in larger groups.

Preview a Marketing Campaign: Brands typically test movie trailers and other advertisements before going to market. Video solutions allow these organizations to show advertisements to a group of individuals then view reactions and hear responses in real time.

Test Market Viability: Before spending a significant amount of money on R&D, organizations can test concepts by presenting ideas and mockups to potential buyers. This allows them to nix most likely unprofitable products before a significant amount of time and effort goes into product development.

Focus groups can provide numerous insights on products and market trends and utilizing video solutions can provide faster, more economical access to consumers. Video provides the face-to-face benefits of a traditional focus group without the time and cost associate with traveling to a specific location. Brands can access a multitude of consumers with a wide range of demographics and geographic areas right from their corporate office.