It seems like everywhere you look some analyst is saying video conferencing has hit a tipping point and its usage is skyrocketing.  The technology continues to improve while the cost of entry continues to decrease, which is great news for just about anyone who needs to communicate with people in other locations.

What happens though, when an organization finally decides to pull the trigger?  It partners with a solution provider, picks a technology or manufacturer, sets a budget, and implements.

Great! Now it’s time to watch the investment pay for itself as members reap all of the personal and business benefits video has to offer.  Or, maybe not?

One key piece of the implementation puzzle that cannot be taken for granted is the need to promote the use of video within an organization.  It is crucial to design a usage that is tailored towards the needs of end users and the organization’s overall goals.

A good roll-out should begin with a communications plan that outlines how video should be marketed internally.  Key components of this communications plan include:

  1. Program Goals
    In most cases this will be as simple as “to successfully deploy video by creating awareness and excitement while driving user adoption.”
  2. Key Messages and Objectives
    • Why should employees use video?
    • What previous perceptions of video technology need to be addressed?
    • What corporate initiatives are connected to video (going green or sustainability programs)?
  3. Marketing Vehicles
    What media/technology/events will be used to get the word out? (Email, launch events, internal video messages, etc.)
  4. Timeline
    What is the overall roll-out timeline and structure for the program?

With a comprehensive communications plan in place, it is vital to obtain executive sponsorship of the plan. In most cases, any events associated with the video roll-out should include executive participation (launch parties, demos, etc).

The final piece to the puzzle is ongoing marketing. It is not enough to simply announce the launch; a continuous effort must be made to provide updates, additional training, and success stories.  If the internal communications effort is consistent and continues to showcase the value of video, usage and adoption of video technology will skyrocket!

Hospitality professionals know when they need to turn on some serious charm to attract customers. Given the economic environment in recent years, tourism and business travel have declined, leading to a reduction in occupancy rates, daily room rates, and REVPAR (revenue per available room). Competition is intense for the available customers – the question is, how do hotels, resorts, and casinos not only bring in new guests but ensure repeat business?

Ensuring excellent service is a given. To truly differentiate their establishments, hotels can utilize unified communication (UC) technology to transform not only the customer experience, but also improve the operating efficiency going on behind the scenes.

UC solutions, including video conferencing systems, are used to create the ultimate customer experience by:

  • Providing hotel staff with the ability to communicate efficiently in real-time, between all remote properties equipped with UC and video conferencing equipment.
  • Holding one general meeting for all hotel managers across locations, ensuring the consistency of information that is covered; topics may include customer service, housekeeping, and maintenance. In addition, the hotel staff at multiple locations can be managed from one place, greatly increasing the efficiency of operations.
  • Delivering interactive group training sessions to new employees, reducing the time and costs associated with covering the same training material at each property.
  • Addressing high turnover rates typical of the hospitality industry by facilitating the human resources recruiting process.
  • Allowing guests to easily hold face-to-face meetings with remote business associates, thereby not missing a beat while traveling. Content such as presentations, videos, and data can be shared with several participants over multiple locations.
  • Setting up video conferencing rooms that can be rented to companies looking to cut down on travel expenses. Video allows guests to hold their meetings in real time, with various partners around the globe.

UC integration can provide the hospitality industry improved and more efficient operations, better collaboration through real-time communication (with reduced travel costs), and improved guest satisfaction. The resulting guest experience is really quite charming.

Power to the People! 

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization – including proper communication and training. This is the fourth post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here.

People are inherently resistant to any major change; they take comfort in the status quo because of fear associated with the uncertainty of something new.  A major organizational change, such as the implementation of a visual collaboration solution, changes the way colleagues interact with each other and perform their daily tasks.  This shift in the daily routine moves users out of their comfort zone by expecting them to learn something new; which if not addressed, can produce significant resistance. 

It is imperative for senior management to address the impact that visual collaboration has on their employees.  Frequent and open communications regarding the reasons for change and expected benefits for both the organization and the end user are a necessity. If organizations do not address the uncertainty around a new technology the resulting resistance can be insurmountable, leading to an abandoned solution. 

Those familiar with video conferencing applications, such as Skype or Face Time, are more apt to accept enterprise video than people who have never used video before.  Many people take comfort in security of email and phone calls because others cannot read their facial expressions.  Therefore, new users can initially become overwhelmed by the face-to-face exposure video provides.  Proper training along with open dialogue can help address some of the uncertainty associated with switching to video communications.  Training should include several different topics; such as operational procedures, best practices and video etiquette. 

While most users understand basic functionality of video equipment; they lack the expertise to manage the infrastructure required for effective visual collaboration.  A team of video professionals, who operate the back-end video environment and provide technical support when needed, is crucial to any video environment.  Advanced video operators should proactively monitor video meetings to allow participants to focus on the matters at hand rather than the collaboration technology.  Therefore, organizations must either locate the right technical support staff or partner with a video services provider for access to advanced technical support. 

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part One: Because the boss said so is not enough!
Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Three: P is for Process, that’s good enough for me
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

You’re thinking of investing in a visual collaboration solution or upgrading the existing deployment; however, the equipment and management costs are adding up quickly. 

While you know the value visual communication provides; you need to justify the expense to your boss.  Unfortunately, all the different components are making it difficult to show a return on investment.  

Enter the cloud.  

Organizations can have access to multi-point bridging, firewall traversal, recording and streaming features without the complicated, not to mention costly, equipment.  This eliminates the frustrating “figure it out” period and enables organizations to realize the ROI of their video investment almost instantaneously. 

Additionally, instead of a significant upfront investment in network and equipment; organizations can spread out the operation costs through monthly expenses.  Not only does this allow organizations to budget more effectively; it shifts the video investment from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure.   As a result, organizations can fully deduct the costs in the period they are incurred instead of having to worry about depreciation. 

Start realizing the benefits of your video investment by saying goodbye to upfront capital investments and hello to manageable monthly payments! 

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Why Take Video to the Cloud? 

Many people take for granted the ease of which they collaborate in a conference room.  With the touch of a button participants can switch between content from a PC, projector or interactive whiteboard; mute and unmute microphones; and pan, tilt, or zoom the camera on a video conferencing system.  The technology simply fades into the background while meeting participants focus on the business matters at hand.  Thinking about all of the different components required for effective collaboration can be exhausting; so, how is it that collaboration can be so easy and so effortless?

Simple:  the room’s control system programming.  The backbone of any audio visual integrated room, the control system provides an easy to use interface to manage the room’s functionality.   Instead of having one remote to operate the telepresence system, one to operate the plasma display and yet another remote to operate the projector or interactive whiteboard; organizations can simply invest in a Crestron or AMX Control System.

Gone are the days where participants have to spend fifteen minutes prior to a meeting figuring out how everything works.  With the help of expert programmers, organizations can create a standardized user interface to operate all of their conference rooms in all of their locations.  From a small room with a projector to an immersive telepresence room with three cameras and five displays; the control system ensures participants can collaborate effortlessly.

Advanced programming also allows organizations to push technology boundaries by customizing the video experience to fit their unique requirements.   A custom control program can be designed to display content from multiple different sources, arrange participants in a particular order on screen or manage the speaking privileges of numerous participants.   Essentially, an organization can use a control system to create a visual collaboration solution that is perfectly aligned with its needs.

So, the next time you have an effective collaboration session; give your control system a slight nod, a high five or even a fist bump – just show the little guy some love, he deserves it.