It’s here, Friday the 13th, and I have a huge meeting today. I woke up in a panic last night because I had a nightmare that I completely bombed the presentation and then got fired. I don’t understand why they had to schedule this meeting today – do they not understand I have the worst luck ever?

Then I’m walking to my car this morning and a black cat crawled right in front of me and gave me the stare down. This is a bad omen, something is going to go wrong, I just know it. As I’m driving, I start making a list of everything that I need to do to ensure this presentation goes well.

I checked with our receptionist to make sure the conference room was booked and then scheduled a pre-test with the client to ensure we could connect easily and push content without any issues. While I was in the conference room I straightened up to make sure everything looked nice as well.

After that, I went back to my desk and put together an outline of what I wanted to cover. Then I went through my PowerPoint slides to ensure I wasn’t missing anything. With about a half hour before the meeting, I decided to just get to the conference room so I could get set up. Everything seems to be in place, but you just never know.

I connected my laptop, got the presentation ready and decided to do a quick test run with Barry just to be sure everything was working properly. He said the content was crystal clear and everything looked good.

Time for the call, here goes nothing!

Wow the call connected perfectly and I’m speaking to the CEO about his weekend plans. Everyone else has joined the call so it’s time to begin. The presentation is displayed and it looks great. This is going too well something is bound to happen.

Next thing I know, it’s time for questions which I answered quickly. Now everyone is saying goodbye and have a great weekend. I disconnected the call and just sat there for a minute. Wow, everything went perfectly, a little planning goes a long way I guess.

As I was strutting my stuff back to my desk I tripped over the carpet and went flying. Not exactly sure how I managed to save my laptop from getting crushed but whew that would’ve been embarrassing!

Ah well happy Friday the 13th!

Conference rooms play a major role in any organization. They’re where presentations are made, ideas are formed and innovation happens. Management teams go to discuss business strategy, work teams go to collaborate on projects, business partners go to discuss relationships, and sales representatives go to court clients. The bottom line is conference rooms are where business happens. Therefore, it is very important to consider the factors that make a space conducive to meetings.

Before designing and implementing an audio/visual integrated room it is important to take some time to consider the meeting space itself, where the room will be located in your building, and some of the key components of the room:

Location: Conference rooms should be located in low-traffic areas to minimize background distractions and maintain confidentiality. Soundproofing or speech privacy solutions can be used in busy areas to mitigate unwanted noise and preserve privacy.

Acoustics: A conference room’s acoustics ensure an optimal audio experience for both in-room and remote participants. The room’s size and shape, as well as, surface materials (walls/floor/ceiling) can lead to reverberations or echo. In some cases, noise cancellation devices may be needed to improve audio quality.

Doors & Windows: Too much direct sunlight can become uncomfortable, not to mention blinding, for participants. Additionally, glass windows and doors tend to let in more outside noise which can disrupt a meeting. Blackout shades and solid doors can be used to minimize light and background noise.

Furniture: Proper seating arrangements must be designed to provide optimal viewing and comfort for each participant. If video conferencing will be integrated, furniture should be chosen that minimizes the glare on cameras.

Power: A conference room should have a few dedicated circuits to power all equipment (displays, projectors, video conferencing, etc) along with convenient ports for participants to plug in personal devices.  There should also be enough power to handle any HVAC systems that will need to be added to the room to support larger numbers of participants.

Many of these areas of concern can be adjusted in the selected room space, However, selecting a room space that meets many of the above criteria can help to reduce costly room remediation and provide an environment that will be far more conducive to meetings.

Learn more about creating an optimal collaboration environment from our Audio Visual Buyers Guide.

Related Articles:
Can You Hear Me Now?
Let There Be Light

The video conferencing industry is changing faster than anyone can keep up with. The technological innovations are staggering and many have led to greater reach and lower cost, higher quality video solutions.

One of the latest trends emerging is video conferencing directly within the web browser.  HTML 5 and a new standard known as WebRTC are making many of these solutions possible. WebRTC allows browsers to facilitate real-time communication; including voice, video, and point-to-point file sharing. This new technology will soon be standard in all popular browsers.

This standard is still in a “draft” format from the Web Standards Body but many of the applications that have experimented with it have been quite impressive. Small software companies to major manufacturers of hardware based video conferencing systems have been working with web clients for some time. The advantages of this approach are:

  1. Users can be connected to a video meeting with little to no download and setup time. Currently WebRTC is not finalized so small plugins must be downloaded the first time a user enters a video meeting. In the near future this should be eliminated and the browser will be able to launch directly into the video call.
  2. Beyond a web camera, there are no hardware requirements to participate in a video meeting.
  3. Browsers exist on devices beyond PCs; mobile devices, televisions, tablets, and more. Soon these devices will be video conferencing ready out of the box without any configuration.

There have been a number of announcements that have centered on video conferencing in the web browser including:

Blue Jeans:  This service has bridged the gap between consumer and professional video conferencing offering “meet-me” rooms in the cloud that allow users of pretty much any traditional VC system  to connect with users on Skype, Google Video Chat and Microsoft Lync. Last month, Blue Jeans added a browser-based option to their service. When a user receives an invite to a Blue Jeans meeting, they can click a link and attend via their web browser.

Polycom:  Last year Polycom acquired ViVu, a small organization that had been offering “embeddable” video conferencing into web applications. This week Polycom announced the first initiative based on that acquisition. HP is now shipping a Polycom HD video application with their new web cams. The app makes it easy for users to connect, via video, to any of their contact lists from Facebook, Skype, Google, etc. When a user invites a contact, the receipt simply clicks a link and is immediately launched in a web based video call.

Cisco: A few weeks ago Cisco announced some significant updates to their Quad social portal. The newly branded Cisco Webex Social features integrated video calling that all happens in the browser.

There are sure to be many more announcements and releases around web-based video conferencing. Its impact on the industry remains to be seen, but it is sure to be significant and will only make video even more accessible for everyone.

Social collaboration, a combination of social media, visual collaboration and unified communications, is becoming a significant trend in business today. When used together, these technologies can improve products or processes and ultimately drive true innovation which has a direct impact on a firm’s bottom line. This is the third post in a series discussing the benefits of social collaboration. For part one click here.

Today’s global environment is moving at a faster pace than ever. New products and services are continuously being created and modified to adapt to changing consumer and business needs. As a result, organizations need to find renewed effectiveness and efficiency in their business model; a balance between doing the right things and doing things right.

Many organizations are turning to business partnerships to create new avenues for innovation in a variety of different ways. From new products and services to new processes and procedures that can enhance a firm’s productivity while inspiring ingenuity. Wal-Mart, for example, was a pioneer with supplier collaboration by implementing technology that provided real-time, point of sale information to their suppliers. This not only decreased stock-outs but increased sales and customer satisfaction by ensuring products were always available for purchase. Similarly, Apple has created valuable partnerships with manufacturing companies to produce their products; allowing them to focus on their core competencies of technology design and innovation.

The most successful business partnerships are built on a strong foundation of trust which is established through open and honest communications and face-to-face interaction. Two-way data sharing and peer-to-peer collaboration can provide new insights for partners on how to make their relationship more effective and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Vendors, suppliers, joint ventures and other forms of business partners can not only meet face-to-face through video but collaborate through interactive whiteboards. Additionally social networking helps expand an organization’s network providing access to thought leadership, top talent and other potential business partners.

Geographical diversity presents a major challenge in developing meaningful relationships as most business partners located in different countries, if not continents. However, collaboration technologies are continuously evolving to create an effective means of communication. One of the biggest roadblocks for partner or B2B collaboration has been the disparate nature of networks and network providers.

For many organizations that choose to move their video communication to a dedicated network, there can be a “walled garden” created where they are unable to connect to other systems outside of the network. Service providers have been providing so-called B2B exchanges for many years as a way to combat this. Recent trends towards cloud services and carrier interoperability relationships have helped make this type of collaboration easier to achieve.

This post is part of a series covering the benefits of social collaboration within an organization.

Part One: The Rise of Social Collaboration
Part Two: Unified Communications, Unified People
Part Four: Using Collaboration to Increase Customer Lifetime Value

The essence of effective project management lies in communication – conveying goals, updates, and other information among the many parties involved.  While the type of projects that need to be coordinated may vary across industries and company departments, all project managers must accomplish set goals within a specific timeframe. To accomplish this, project managers utilize the collaboration tools that are available to get the job done; these include email, instant messaging, and audio conferences.

While these communication devices can work well, projects that utilize video are more likely to be completed on time and on budget. Video is a valuable tool for project managers because it facilitates face-to-face communication among numerous remote parties, often simultaneously. When paired with a managed service that specializes in making video easy to use and reliable from any device, all members of the project team can check-in and meet from almost any location with internet access.

The following are some of the ways actual project managers say they use video to get a job completed on time:

Start the process:  In the beginning of a project, all remote parties join the kick-off call via video. The project manager goes through the proposal with all levels of project staff and stakeholders so that everyone understands and agrees upon the deliverables. In addition, the processes needed for achieving the deliverables can be established. Video helps all parties get better familiar with each other, and establish rapport from the beginning.

Meet with the client: Communication is not only important internally, it is vital to maintaining a good relationship with the client. Video delivers a face-to-face meeting experience, and provides the sense of control clients need to be assured that all is going according to plan. When any issues arise, video aids the discussion, as it can be used in place of an in-person meeting at a moment’s notice.

Access remote experts:  Remote experts and consultants that are needed for additional service, support, or consultation can be readily accessed without the time and expense of flying them to the company or client’s location. Video also facilitates connecting to outside vendors and agencies in multiple locations.

Training: At any point during a project additional training may be needed on equipment or software. Video provides the ability to deliver on-the-spot training to numerous participants at the same time, bypassing the usual scheduling conflicts that arise, and thereby keeping the project on schedule.

Video is a valuable collaboration tool that helps project managers streamline processes and get results.

Effective project management is the hallmark of any organization. Whether its implementation of internal or external projects, proper process and engagement must be followed. The Project Management Institute is an organization that exists solely to advocate for project management and project management professionals. To learn more about gaining certifications and the organization as a whole, visit www.pmi.org.