The Center for Digital Government has issued a brief detailing the use of cloud-based video collaboration in the public sector.  Many organizations are switching to the cloud not only for the cost savings, but for the realistic and efficient interactions video conferencing provides.  In fact, “about a quarter of government institutions in North America, Europe and Asia are already using the cloud, with another 36 percent investigating its use.”

The cloud offers an open a platform in which users can connect anytime, anywhere, with anyone, on any device.  Organizations no longer have to worry about differences in equipment; or the various platforms and networks citizens or other agencies are using. Cloud services allow for successful visual collaboration in a secure, reliable, consistent and easy to use manner; providing endless applications and benefits.

As a result, educators can easily bring engaging activities to the classroom; military personnel can report time-sensitive situations from the field so decisions can be made in real-time and healthcare experts can consult with patients thousands of miles away.  Cloud video extends an organization’s reach beyond previous geographical barriers allowing users to collaborate and make decisions quickly.

By utilizing video-as-a-service, public sector organizations can also avoid the upfront capital expenditures and management challenges associated with visual collaboration technologies.  Agencies can begin collaborating with colleagues, citizens and other agencies immediately; creating value and ROI almost instantaneously.   For example, Oakland County, Michigan’s judicial video program uses video conduct attorney-client meetings, arraignment hearings and telemedicine services.  This program has saved the county an estimated $38.4 million since its implementation four years ago.

Cloud video services provide an effective alternative; especially in a time where cost savings and increased communication are at a premium.

Additional Resources:
Video Collaboration Cloud

It’s more than just bits and bytes

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 properly integrating the technology. This is the second post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here.

Visual collaboration technology can revolutionize the way companies conduct business; it can increase productivity while decreasing travel expenditures and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Additionally, interpersonal relationships among colleagues, partners and clients are strengthened through the familiarity of face-to-face interactions without the time consuming business travel. However, these results are only as good as the integration of the technology.

Seamless integration allows the technology to fade into the background so participants focus on the meeting instead of the equipment; however, achieving this can be difficult.  The actual meeting room environment plays a significant role in effective visual collaboration; including suitable lighting, proper acoustics and the ability to shift between multiple sources of content.  Additionally, organizations must consider how the technology will integrate into existing systems; such as unified communications applications and other IT functions.

There is nothing more frustrating than a technology that only works half the time.  The inability to connect properly, view and hear speakers clearly or push content in a reliable manner can be detrimental to a successful implementation.  The adage that trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy can be applied to implementing a new technology.  A solution can work 99% of the time but if it fails to work once during a critical time, either with an important client or business partner; it can be difficult to continue driving adoption. To ensure reliability, organizations must take into consideration the impact video has on network performance.  The company may decide to invest in additional bandwidth that is dedicated to video usage.

As with every aspect of a company, security is paramount.  Therefore, when implementing a visual collaboration solution, an organization must consider the security of the network, video rooms and video equipment, and sensitive information/presentations.  At times, organizations take the path of least resistance in connecting video equipment to endpoints outside of their network; however, this can leave an organization vulnerable to a breach of security. It is imperative for companies to invest the time and resources in creating and maintaining a secure visual collaboration environment.

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 Three: P is for Process, thats good enough for me
Part Four: Power to the People
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

The New Nonprofit

April 20th, 2012 | Posted by Adam Kaiser in Use Cases | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Nonprofit organizations are essential to the U.S. economy, contributing 5.4% to the GDP. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations based in the United States, each with its own unique mission. Like publicly traded or for-profit entities, the bottom line for nonprofits is the same: the organization must operate with optimal efficiency and achieve its stated goals with the highest return to the stakeholders.

To achieve its goals, a nonprofit must address the following challenges that are often present:

  • Locating sources of funding.
  • Marketing the mission and what the nonprofit stands for.
  • Unifying geographically dispersed stakeholders within the organization.
  • Reducing travel related time and costs.

One way to effectively address these issues is with unified communications (UC) and visual collaboration solutions. UC technology combined with cloud-based services can provide nonprofits with the tools they need to communicate effectively, increase the productivity of the staff, and get their message out to more people, all while reducing travel related time and expenses.

Now that the benefits of UC solutions can be enjoyed without the upfront capital expenditures that had been prohibitive for many nonprofit organizations in the past, there has never been a better time for nonprofits to implement these systems to help reach their mission and further their cause.

Because the boss said so is not enough!

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 – starting with executive support and planning. This the first post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Prior to even purchasing video conferencing equipment, senior management must fully commit to adopting a visual collaboration solution.  Strong executive support is critical to any successful change as lower levels within the organization look to senior management for guidance.  Once executive support has been established, the management team must identify the role visual collaboration should play in the organization and the desired state of its implementation. Specific and measurable also goals need to be determined; such as reducing travel expenditures by 20% the first year or achieving a 75% adoption rate among middle-management.

After the desired state has been identified; senior management must determine the driving forces behind implementation and any resisting forces to adoption.  Driving forces consist of the factors propelling the organization to reach the desired state of visual collaboration; such as the need to make revenue generating activities more engaging.  Resisting forces consist of the factors that are preventing the organization from reaching the desired state; such as high capital expenditures or technical complexity.

If senior management does not invest time in planning or identifying key factors; the implementation process can become haphazard leading to low adoption rates.  Additionally, identifying resisting forces allows senior management to proactively address any concerns that could hinder adoption while identifying driving forces and goals allows senior management to effectively evaluate the success of implementation and distinguish areas for improvement.

Once these steps have been completed, senior management must communicate openly and freely with all levels of the organization.  Open communication about the implementation process, the projected benefits of visual collaboration and the reasons for change can help ease some of the fear and uncertainty associated with deploying a new technology. Furthermore, strong executive communication can garner the support of key influencers in each department.  These leaders will act as a catalyst; influencing more of their colleagues to adopt visual collaboration.  As a result, the momentum of adoption continues to increase until the organization has fully embraced video collaboration.

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

Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Three: P is for Process, thats good enough for me
Part Four: Power to the People
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

The finance industry, now recovering from the worst crisis it has faced in decades, still faces challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure stability into the future. Banks and other financial institutions are restoring consumer confidence by cutting business costs, implementing processes to become more efficient, restructuring and consolidating distributed work forces, and undergoing reorganization efforts.

IT divisions of banks are embracing leading edge technology, including unified communication (UC) solutions, as part of the effort to address many of these challenges. UC systems utilize integrated visual collaboration, audio conferencing and data sharing capabilities to improve communication among remote parties. UC solutions are prevalent within the finance industry and are used to improve:

  • Customer service and support:  Bank customers who visit branch locations are provided access to services and subject matter experts that may only be available at headquarter locations. Support is provided in real-time, with face-to-face transactions that create a collaborative environment.  As a result, the branch is turned into a robust sales channel that is more responsive and able to offer additional products and services.
  • Internal communication and productivity: Video and UC solutions improve and streamline internal communication by establishing a more personal connection among employees in disparate branch and office locations; when information is shared readily and easily, the level of productivity is increased and bank profitability is improved.
  • Corporate training: Video conferencing and streaming facilitates new hire training and education on new financial vehicles by providing consistent information to all participants, at one time, regardless of location. Video reduces the costs associated with transporting training personnel to locations on site; users can receive training sessions delivered via desk top and mobile applications. Sessions can be recorded and archived for later viewing.
  • Recruiting and retaining talent: Video assists the screening process by reducing the need to meet with remote candidates in-person for initial interviews; video provides enough clarity to aid the decision making process and determine who moves on to the next round. Additionally, by creating an efficient and productive environment, video and UC solutions help financial institutions build their reputations within the industry, which works to retain top talent.

Visual collaboration technology, when combined with cloud-based managed services, creates a meeting experience so realistic, bank customers and employees will instantly feel as though they are participating in an-person meeting or training session.