As video conferencing continues to become ubiquitous in the business and consumer world, the entertainment industry has taken notice and continues to integrate the technology into the plots and characters of television shows and movies.  Here’s a look at some of the more popular instances of video conferencing appearing in our favorites!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
With the planet in peril once again, the Transformers must maintain communication with the command center of the NEST (Non-Biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) team.  The Transformers are in the field with their human counterparts, meeting with national security advisors and heads of defense departments. The briefing is about the latest threat and how to address it. How do they meet? Via telepresence. There is no better way to see the power of video communication than to have Optimus Prime laying down the law 4 inches away from the camera!

NCIS
NCIS (Navy Criminal Investigation Service) is one of the most popular television series on the air today. The premise of the show is a team of Navy officers who investigates crimes within and related to the Navy. The show has its fill of quirky forensic specialists and one liners (what crime drama is complete without them)?  Video conferencing comes into play with the quirky forensic specialists.  In many cases they are able to connect to the field teams to review the evidence they have analyzed back in the lab and this helps guide the next moves of the men and woman investigating and interviewing.

24
24 has been off the air for a few years now but represents the first major appearance of telepresence in entertainment and Cisco went as far to promote its inclusion in several ads and promotions.  In the show, telepresence is used in several different instances. Throughout the entire series, the plot focused on the current sitting president.  In many occasions this president is isolated and must communicate with their cabinet and national security teams remotely. Telepresence provides the life-like communication needed to make decisions that could potentially save the country from utter doom!

Up In the Air
George Clooney hired to fire you? Ouch. In this movie Clooney flies around the country as a hired gun for organizations doing massive layoffs. George loves to travel and not deal with what’s going on with his life on the ground. Video conferencing plays a pivotal role in the plot as a young new hire attempts to replace the in-person firings of the entire company with an outsourced, video conferencing based approach. This threatens Clooney’s way of life but also makes him deal with the reality of his life. This is an application of video conferencing we hope never comes to be!

Clearly video in entertainment is ever growing, just as it is in real life!

With the rising popularity of video conferencing applications on mobile devices and desktop units, it is easy to forget that this technology once had the most appeal with c-level executives such as CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs. Video conferencing has transformed from an elite technology used mostly by corporations with big IT budgets to a ubiquitous communications tool that now reaches a large portion of the business and consumer markets. However, c-level executives are still a group that has much to gain from use of the technology and its implementation throughout their organizations.

When executives use video conferencing for meetings with staff members or clients they expect the calls to run flawlessly every time. They neither have the time to wait for issues to be fixed nor the patience to sit through troubleshooting. The only solution that is appropriate for c-levels is one that includes high-quality systems paired with a managed service that provides total monitoring of the people, processes, and technology that are required for video meetings to be successful every time.

Interestingly, while executives enjoy great benefits from using video conferencing including reduction in travel time, holding more meetings throughout the day, and the improved quality of interactions that comes from face-to-face collaboration, video also appeals to executives because of how the organization as a whole benefits from use of the technology. The following are some of the ways corporations benefit when c-level executives implement visual communication solutions company-wide:

Increased shareholder value: Good communication is the foundation of any successful company. Video conferencing provides the ability to hold instant, face-to-face meetings with colleagues or customers located across the globe.  A company that communicates well is more efficient, increases productivity and creates value for the shareholders.

Competitive advantages gained:  Video is one weapon in a company’s arsenal that adds instant competitive advantage. For example, video helps cross-functional teams get products to market faster thanks to higher-quality collaborative meetings that can take place more frequently. Video also gives   organizations an edge by improving customer call center interactions, facilitating board and management meetings, and uniting disparate team members at a moment’s notice.

Corporate culture enhanced: Employees that join companies today have vastly different expectations for the work environment than they did even a few years ago. Mobile devices, combined with the use of video collaboration, mean that team members can do their work from just about anywhere with an internet connection. Job flexibility, such as working from home, and the reduction in travel time and expenses not only add great appeal to a company but help meet corporate initiatives like going green.

While c-level executives have unique concerns and requirements for the use of video depending on their role in the company and the type of industry of which they are a part, all executives share two common goals: making the best use of their time each day and ensuring the company is earning revenue in the most efficient way possible. Video helps executives achieve these goals while gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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 second post in a series discussing the benefits of social collaboration. For part one click here.

Collaboration technologies are continuously evolving and creating new ways for employees to interact with each other; both formally through WebEx and telepresence meetings and informally though IM or video chat. When employees interact with each other, they not only catch up on their personal lives but discuss different ideas or share tips and tricks. This type of social collaboration results in a type of knowledge sharing that can not only increase productivity but increase employee satisfaction.

The most effective organizations have a variety of employees with a wide range of expertise; from marketing and finance to information technology and operations management. Sometimes the best ideas are created through the most informal interactions, when employees are merely catching up with one another. Social collaboration, and the subsequent knowledge sharing, can assist with problem solving or create a more efficient process by simply providing a different point of view.

For example, a few weeks ago I was catching up with one of my colleagues and she began saying how frustrated she was with this new project. Essentially, she was completing a manual process in Excel which was not only time consuming but rather boring. Having a slight obsession with Excel, I offered to take a look to see if there was a way to make it easier. A few minutes later, I showed her a simple formula that allowed her to automate part of the process. Not only did this save her several hours of time over the course of the project, it saved her sanity by allowing her to focus on more engaging activities.

Additionally, social collaboration can spark a creative moment that leads to a product improvement or a new way to position and differentiate a service. Garnering information from people with different backgrounds or expertise can give employees the fresh perspective they need for a breakthrough idea. This can enhance both the employee and the firm’s effectiveness by ensuring they are engaged in the right activities.

Finally, allowing employees to easily interact over instant messaging and chat; then effortlessly switch to web or video conferencing helps increase employee satisfaction. By nature, humans are social creatures and crave interaction with others. Spending five minutes to discuss the weekend or the latest sports win allows employees to relax and ultimately recharge their batteries. As a result, they are more focused during meetings or when completing their individual tasks which leads to better ideas, better products and a more efficient organization.

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

Part One: The Rise of Social Collaboration
Part Three: The Power of Business Partnerships
Part Four: Using Collaboration to Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Video is becoming ubiquitous; everywhere you look there is a new application or platform. Plus video enabled smartphones allow you to bring video virtually anywhere. Countless organizations have used the technology to connect remote workers, cut travel expenses and create a competitive advantage. Here are a few overlooked industries that use video in a fun and exciting way.

Post-production: Directing a movie is a strenuous job, when one movie wraps another one starts, making it difficult to complete the final product. While the editors are back at the studio in Los Angeles, the director is already on a new film set in Thailand. Video conferencing allows the director to work through key scenes with the editor in real-time, ensuring post production stays on schedule.

Help predict the weather: Weather patterns are notoriously unstable and meteorologists have one of the only jobs where they can be right less than half the time. Video conferencing can easily connect local meteorologist to national weather experts so they can prepare residents for any severe weather or provide up to the minute updates that could potentially save lives.

Review the plays: Despite their best efforts, referees can miss a play or a professional athlete can cross the line. Sometimes a second opinion is needed for a game changing call and other times the league needs to step in for supplemental discipline. League officials can easily review the plays and confer with one another. If needed, officials can hold supplementary discipline hearings with players

Crime scene investigation: investigating crimes and finding those responsible is getting more and more difficult by the day. Advanced forensic science has allowed experts to unlock crime secrets while also freeing those who are wrongly accused. In some situations, blood spatter or other experts can be consulted over video during the initial investigation. This brings the highest level of expertise to any location in the world.

Finding the perfect outfit: The retail industry has been known to use video conferencing to view clothing samples and make alterations with manufacturing partners overseas. Consumers can also use technology to help find the perfect outfit. Not long ago, I started a video chat with one of my friends so she could help me decide on the right dress for an event because, let’s face it; my husband’s opinion just didn’t cut it.

With so many organizations either using or implementing video conferencing, the technology is becoming ever-present. Whether an organization is implementing the highest quality immersive telepresence, or rolling out video across iPads and smartphones, someone at some point had to sell their boss on the value of video.

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation? Here are some tips to make it just a little bit easier to sell the power of video to your superiors.

Teamwork – Selling your boss on the value of video conferencing to connect disparate teams is crucial. Maybe you work with a sales person in Los Angeles, an engineer in Dallas, and a support specialist in Chicago. Connecting the team face-to-face will help make all of you more productive and foster better relationships. This type of increase in productivity will only help to increase the bottom line.

Travel Costs – This is an oldie, but goodie. There is no doubt that organizations save significant dollars on travel once video has been implemented. To make this process easier, see if you can get your hands on the company’s travel expenses from the last few months. If you can’t get that much data, look to your own expenses for travel. Take that number and calculate 25% to show the potential savings video can provide on travel. When presenting this to your boss, point out that 25% could be a conservative number.

Outsmart the Competition – With the rapid communication abilities of video, your company will be able to stay one (or maybe more!) steps ahead of the competition. Whether its responding to a customer issue in the shortest time possible or getting a product to market faster, this type of rapid response is only going to make your company and your boss look good!

Recruiting Top Talent – Remind your boss of the last time he recruited a new sales executive. It started with 10 phone interviews then four were brought in for face to face interviews. When the candidates showed up, none of them had the appearance or polish of a sales rep. It almost seemed like there was a different person on the phone! With video, the first interview can occur visually, making it easier to find the right candidate sooner.

There are many more ways to sell your boss. If you are in a particular niche industry (healthcare, legal) there are very specific use cases to present as well. But if you begin with the four points above, you will be well on your way to selling your boss.