The proliferation of desktop and mobile video solutions, along with WebRTC, has allowed participants to join a video call virtually anywhere there is an internet connection. However, a poor internet connection can destroy a video conference. Here are a few things you need to know when joining a video call over the internet:

Download Speed:
Download speed is the amount of bandwidth people have coming to their computer from the Internet. Think of a road coming toward an office; the more lanes it has the more traffic the road can handle. Similarly, the more downstream bandwidth people have the more internet traffic they can accept. For a point-to-point business quality video call it is recommended to a minimum download bandwidth of 384Kbps. For each additional call participant an additional 384Kbs is recommended. For example, a 4-way call will need 1.5Mbps + 20% for overhead. For High Resolution (HD) video conferencing, a minimum of 1Mbps (+20%) download speed is recommended.

Upload Speed:
Upload speed is the amount of bandwidth people have going from their computer to the Internet. This is the road going away from an office.  Again, the more upload bandwidth one has, the wider the road is and the more traffic people can send. The upload requirements remain the same as the download requirements regardless of the amount of participants on the call.

Latency (Delay):
Latency is the amount of time it takes for the traffic sent to reach its destination. Using the previous analogy, even if there is a wide road going to and from the office, if a car is moving slowly on the road it will take a lot longer to get where it is going. If you notice it is taking a long time for your co-worker to respond on a video call or that you are talking over each other it is most likely being caused by high latency. Latency problems are often caused by network congestion; if you experience problems try ending the video call and starting it again. It is recommended that latency be below 250ms.

Jitter:
Jitter is the time difference it takes data packets to reach their destination and is usually caused by congestion in the network. This is akin to getting off of work and hitting the evening rush hour. Due to the congestion and high volume of drivers hitting the road at the same time it may take longer to reach your final destination.  Jitter causes packets to arrive at their destination with different timing and possibly in a different order than they were sent (spoken). Some arrive faster than they should while some arrive slower than they should. Low jitter, or a few packets off causing a slight flicker or flash, can be frustrating but tolerable.  High jitter on the other hand can make video nearly impossible to use as the image can be completely distorted. It is recommended that jitter be below 30ms.

Packet Loss:
Packet loss is when one or more of the data packets fail to reach their destination and is also caused by congestion on the network. Essentially, some of the packets are dropped by network routers or switches that become congested (lost packets), or they are discarded by the jitter buffer (discarded packets). This is similar to an audio call breaking up where you miss every few words and cannot understand much of the conversation.

Test Your Network:
There are a number of ways to test your network connection both for quality as well as any firewall/security restrictions. Check out IVCi’s new Cloud Video Experience Video Network Assessment test to see how well video is expected to perform on your network. Click here to star the test.

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Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

Deliver what every CEO wants through Cloud Collaboration
CEOs want IT leaders to figure out how technology can help their business transform and expand, as much as make it operate. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the explosion of mobile and social technologies, there is a unique opportunity to embed IT into an organization’s overall business strategy. When IT leaders define what business problem they are trying to solve and test the right technology solution, they can become an integral part of running, changing and growing a business.

How states can encourage web-based health care in hospitals
A University of Michigan researcher has found that 42 percent of U.S. hospitals use some type of “telehealth” approach. Telehealth seems to be something hospitals use to differentiate themselves. People often think about rural areas when they think about telehealth, however adoption was just as likely in competitive markets. It’s about using technology to lower operating costs and deliver care more efficiently.

Should HR recruit through video conferencing?
While the use of video conferencing to help speed up the recruitment process is well known, a study from the Montage Talent Candidate Report found that 97% of job candidates felt organizations who utilized video interviewing were more innovative and forward thinking. Video conferencing can aid HR in the areas of recruitment, training, and meetings, a report from video conferencing firm Blue Jeans asserts.

Digital Technology and the Olympics: When Is it Cheating?
We take advantage of advanced digital technologies for efficiency, effectiveness, and loftier performance in business, so why wouldn’t an athlete use these technologies to their advantage while in training or on the field of athletic competition? Is this a fair practice? If everyone has equal access to the technology, then is it fair? At what point does technology tip beyond being a clever innovation along the continuum of progress to cross the line into cheating for unfair advantage?

User Behavior and Training Critical to Secure Mobility
Worker mobility has become an essential practice for government agencies. From teleworking on the road to accessing critical data on your smart phone, mobility increases productivity and employee satisfaction. With the increased proliferation of mobile devices comes the need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place so agencies can take advantage of increased capabilities while still maintaining high levels of security.

Cisco MX 300 G2

When it comes to video conferencing everyone seems to be talking cloud based services and mobility. These are certainly the big trends of the moment but it is important to remember that room based collaboration is not going away. Colleagues still want the ability to grab a conference room and initiate both local collaboration sessions as well as connect to remote participants via video.

Back in October at the Cisco Collaboration Summit, several announcements were made regarding Cisco’s video portfolio. The overarching theme was to make collaboration simple. One of the hardware solutions announced was the MX300 G2. This solution is scheduled to ship to customers this month.

The G2 really represents the evolution of room based visual collaboration. The device is an all in one solution that features a 55” display with several mounting options (wall mount, floor stand, wheel base), a high definition camera with 4x optical zoom and a wide angle lens, significantly enhanced audio and integrated cable management for simplicity.

The unit is controlled by a large 10” touch display that features an  easy to use interface. This new software will be making its way to Cisco’s other hardware solutions providing a consistent experience across their entire portfolio.

Other features include the ability to host up to four party calls (connect with up to three other video systems) as well as a second display option.  The second display can be dedicated for content only as well. Finally, the system can be upgraded to support full 1080p.

As part of Cisco’s promise to make collaboration easier, the MX200 G2 can be installed in under 10 minutes.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the MX300 G2 (and will be added to other Cisco systems as well) is Intelligent Proximity. This feature allows meeting participants to pair their tablet (iPad for example) directly to the endpoint and receive and interact with content being shared on their device. This creates a personal experience in a group setting and allows each user the ability to manipulate the content in such a way to help them fully understand what is being presented.

Click HERE to learn more!

 

 

Remote teams are quickly growing in popularity with the acceptance and growing use of telework programs. However, leading a remote team and managing remote team members is far different from traditional teams. There are many things that we take for granted being in an office, especially face time, that need to be specifically addressed for remote teams.

In a recent HBR article, Keith Ferrazzi mentions three tips to managing virtual teams. Here are a few others to ensure your remote team members function as well as local team members.

  1. Be Available:  Formal weekly status meetings are a must but don’t forget to informally check-in throughout the week. In the office, most mangers stop by and say hi to their teams and many have an open door policy. Fostering this atmosphere is just as important for remote managers. Take the time to just say hi and make yourself available for when your team has questions, needs assistance with a task, or just wants to bounce a few ideas around is very important.
  2. Trust Your Team: The majority of the time, your team will accomplish their tasks and put their 40 hours of work in, if not more. Yes, there may be a few bad apples that don’t do what they’re supposed to but micromanaging and constantly checking up on your entire team is a surefire way to disrupt productivity and frustrate your team. If you suspect one person is not putting in their hours, address it with them directly or sporadically ask them to show you what they are working on.
  3. Define Objectives:  Remote team members can’t simply walk into your office and ask what to do next. Therefore, it is extremely important to define long term goals and objectives for these employees. Consistently managing to short and long term goals will not only keep remote team members productivity but it will also make them feel that their work is contributing to the great goals of the department and the organization.
  4. Encourage Collaboration: It’s easy for remote team members to feel isolated as they don’t have the face time with colleagues that corporate employees do. Assign projects that require team members to collaborate and work on together. This will help develop relationships between remote members and allow them to feel a part of the team instead of an individual contributor.
  5. Communicate Corporate Messaging: Again, it’s easy for remote members to feel isolated from the company as they can miss out on corporate messaging as well the corporate culture. Remote managers must take the time to communicate all corporate messages and Executive teams should think about sending monthly video updates to all employees updating them on what is happening within the company as well as what to look forward to in the future.

Taking the extra time to focus on these objectives can help remote team members feel more comfortable and less isolated from the company. Additionally, it can help increase their productivity by ensuring giving them the space they need to accomplish tasks while being available to assist or answer questions.

Polycom’s Ted Colton demonstrates the company’s telehealth solutions along with their integration to IBM’s Care Manager. This truly shows the power of visual collaboration when integrated into healthcare applications. One click within the Care Manager application can initiate a video conference with patients or other healthcare providers who can be on a PC, tablet or smartphone.