There are numerous statistics that discuss the proliferation of video conferencing into conference rooms and other meeting environments. Every year, some analyst or video evangelist says, “This is the year video is going to explode!” While video continues to grow at a steady pace, that “explosion” of mass adoption and ubiquity has yet to happen. Right now, only 5% of conference rooms are equipped with some form of video conferencing. This leaves a lot of room for growth!

A typical situation for an organization implementing video usually follows this formula; ten conference rooms have been identified as “video rooms” and will be outfitted with high-quality video conferencing systems from manufacturers such as Cisco or Polycom. This company, however, has another 50 rooms that are used for smaller meetings, huddle sessions, or other forms of collaboration. The cost of equipping each one of those smaller rooms with the same video systems creates budget constraints. Consequently, at this point most companies are forced to leave those rooms without any video conferencing.

If one takes this limited roll-out approach and multiplies it across every organization out there, the ability for video to be truly everywhere becomes almost impossible. So the question becomes, how should the market address this?

Enter the telyHD Pro from Tely Labs. This unit is capable of full 720p HD video conferencing and can be attached to any display (via HDMI). Best of all, it’s under $1000. In addition to the low cost, it is also capable of connecting to standard video conferencing infrastructure (via the SIP protocol) and is natively integrated into the Blue Jeans Network for full interoperable video.

A recent white paper from Wainhouse Research highlighted these smaller meeting rooms and how the availability of a low cost video conferencing system opens up huge possibilities.

These solutions specifically do not offer the high cost ‘luxury’ features such as industry-leading video resolution, full motion dual stream video, optical and motorized pan/tilt/zoom cameras, support for multiple microphones, integrated audio mixers, or multiple video/audio outputs. What they do offer is a solid collaboration experience, including in some cases interoperability with standards-based systems, at an easy-to-afford price. –Wainhouse Research

These types of systems present “good enough” video conferencing; quality that provides a suitable experience but not on the same level as an enterprise grade video conferencing system. In many cases, however, that is ok. Organizations can connect these smaller rooms and help increase overall collaboration across the entire business.

With millions of conference rooms sitting without video connectivity, the introduction of a low-cost unit has the potential to help video spread like wildfire!

As the need for collaboration grows, the video conferencing industry provides. Microsoft and Accenture have published survey results showing that the oil and gas industry has looked to video conferencing as a solution for major problems within the industry. Accessing information at anytime from anywhere is a key factor in business success, and having the ability to share data and communicate in real time provides major benefits.  As a result, the need for video collaboration in this industry is steadily increasing as workplace dynamics continue to change.

Approximately 200 oil and gas industry professionals including engineers, mid-level and executive management, business unit heads and staff, project managers and geoscientists, were candidates for completing Microsoft and Accenture’s online survey in order to determine how video conferencing has affected the gas and oil industry. Results show that the percentage of oil and gas professionals that are collaborating is increasing, and 35% have spent more time collaborating. Social networking has also become a major business collaboration tool as well, and is growing each year. Results of the survey also show that instant messaging and social networks are the most popular social media tools for business collaboration, and the usage of internal company social networks has increased.

Video conferencing has been a definite solution for the problems that this industry faces. Problems, such as a lack of skills and an aging work force, make it difficult for this industry to stay modern and keep up. Younger generations don’t have the skills and experience needed to maintain the industry. There are also issues with breaking workflow and challenges involving knowledge sharing. Video conferencing has allowed these issues to dissolve, as collaboration allows users to share information in real time and creates an outlet for easy communication.

While many companies find that video conferencing is a solution, about 30% of the companies surveyed are still hesitant about the technology and restrict its usage, leading employees to be weary of using social tools in the workplace. However, 40% of employees surveyed feel that there is not enough teamwork among employees and social tools drive collaboration. The survey has also shown that there are distinct differences between counties, sectors and genders relating to productivity.

Every company utilizes their tools in different ways. Some feel that video collaboration will make them more successful, while others may not. However, the majority of companies that participated in this survey have realized the benefits of video conferencing and are integrating it into their daily business routines, thus improving collaboration, speeding up customer response and assistance, and creating a new competitive advantage.

Polycom has recently announced its latest addition to its video collaboration family, the Polycom CX5500 and CX 5100 Unified Conference Station, a 360 degree panoramic 1080p HD video collaboration solution custom-built for Microsoft Lync 2013 and the first ever in the video conferencing industry. These stations are designed to create an around-the-table experience with a 360 degree camera panoramic view of the room, allowing all participants to engage.

Polycom has also announced that it has received Lync 2013 qualification for its Polycom VVX Business Media Phones, strengthening the partnership between the two companies by expanding Polycom solutions that are compatible with Lync products.

Why is this great for customers?

  • Easy to use. With Polycom CX5500 and CX1500, the operator has options that allows for easy usage. A new user interface and design system allows easy access to launch or join a call directly from a Lync user environment. Users can directly connect the CX5500 or the CX5100 via USB to a Lync-run computer. These two solutions can also be used with the Lync Room System, combining a 360-degree camera experience with touchscreen monitors and tabletop touch controllers.
  • Better productivity. The Polycom CX5500 and the CX5100 are placed in the center of the table, and therefore allow a natural conversation by engaging all participants simultaneously, with not only those sitting around the table, but other participants who are not. Both systems include 1080p active speaker video while displaying 30 frames per second at a 360-degree panoramic view. Conversations are clear with Polycom HD voice.
  • Financially beneficial. The Polycom CX5500 is both an HD video collaboration environment and a fully featured SIP conference phone, which ultimately reduces capital costs for organizations that require both systems. Since it is so easy to use, the company can also save on training and IT costs.

While desktop video has many advantages, it can become cluttered when connecting multiple groups of people. These solutions are great for organizations looking to extend their Lync application into a conference room environment. Contact us if you have any questions or would like more information on designing or installing collaboration room environments.

Collaboration is the new buzzword in business today. Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about a new way to connect people together. And why not? Collaboration features tremendous benefits including driving creativity and innovation. As a result, many organizations are trying to foster more collaborative environments through the development of a collaboration strategy.

Pixar, the animator of our favorite blockbuster hits, created a highly collaborative environment and has been reaping numerous benefits. Every single one of their films has been a hit from the early days of Toy Story and most recently Monsters U. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, truly recognized the importance of collaboration in the creativity process.

In an HBR article he states “creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems.” While developing and then producing a film seems to require far more creativity, many enterprise organizations can benefit from this process. Creativity doesn’t just have to be in the form of art; it can come in the form of a new product that revolutionizes the market or a new, more efficient process that reduces costs.

Getting people to work together effectively can be tough though. Trust is a key component. As we previously mentioned, trust allows people to freely express their ideas because they’re not afraid of being judged. Therefore, Pixar promotes “an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashing everyone’s creativity.”

A trusting environment is the foundation of any collaborative organization. If people are not free to express themselves and their ideas they will simply follow the status-quo instead of challenging the norm. Pixar encourages their employees to express their ideas in three ways. First, employees can approach members of any department to solve a problem without having to go through management. Second, animation work is shown daily and members from any discipline within the organization can note what they liked and didn’t like and why. Third, by encouraging new employees to speak their mind and challenge the way things are done.

“My intent is to persuade them that we haven’t gotten it all figured out and that we want everyone to question why we’re doing something that doesn’t seem to make sense to them. We do not want people to assume that because we are successful, everything we do is right.” – Ed Catmull

While the animation sessions are very industry specific, all organizations should encourage fresh perspectives and ensure that different departments can work together effectively. There are many technology solutions that can facilitate this; however, simply implementing technology is not enough. A clear collaboration strategy that focuses on strategic collaborations that deliver upon the organization’s goals must be in place.

Video conferencing has drastically affected the way companies communicate and do business with one another. By switching to video conferencing, companies are saving time and money running their business. John Kolodziejski, Manager of Enterprise Telecommunications at BE Aerospace, talks about his experience with video conferencing, and the impact it has made on his company.

IVCi: Can you give us a brief overview of your video environment?
JK: We currently have 32 endpoints which are mainly Cisco C20s or C40s and in conference rooms or executive board rooms. All of our systems are dual displays so we can have a presentation on one screen and people on the other screen. We also have full Cisco infrastructure; TMS management system and gateways on the outside so we can get to external conferences. Our primary data center and corporate IT location is in Winston, North Carolina but we have systems in the Philippines, the US, England, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

IVCi: What were the business drivers that led you to implement video?
JK: Primarily to reduce travel costs, but it was also very important to be able to establish easy communication between our global sites. We need that instant face to face communication. We’re a huge engineering firm and have sites all over the world. For an engineer, it is more efficient to connect face to face with someone to talk about a part or a problem because they can have the physical part with them during the video call or explain the problem clearly. The clarity of communication is important. For our general managers to communicate with their remote sites, face to face interaction is much more effective than a phone call. When you’re on a phone call, you have a tendency to multitask.

IVCi: What has been the end user reaction to video?
JK: We have a wide range of acceptability. Some sites use it 40 hours a month, so almost a full week of usage, while others use it a couple of hours a month. Typically, if the executives don’t use it, the lower levels tend to not use it either and vice versa.

We try to work with site administrators to promote video conferencing more and some sites have tried to get the execs to jump on board. The Netherlands and Philippines were eager to use video and they use the daylights out of their systems. They’re talking to each other; engineers are sharing information and doing a lot of work. Our help desk also uses it a lot for training purposes.

IVCi: What was your favorite moment using video?
JK: Very early on in the adoption of video conferencing, a manufacturing site here needed to talk to a manufacturer in France about a problem they were having. Before video, our engineers would have had to fly over to France to meet with their engineers or vice versa, so you lose several days of productivity along with the cost of travel and other expenses. But with video conferencing, we set up a meeting and in three hours they had the problem resolved. They were able to see the part, draw up sketches, and they work it out. It would have been tens of thousands of dollars and cost significant production time had it not been for video conferencing.

IVCi: How has video grown within your organization and what does the future look like?
JK: It’s doubled since we first started the project in August of 2011. We started our initial project with endpoints for 15 sites and core infrastructure components. Since then we’ve grown to 32 sites and, as soon as we get our equipment shipped, we will be adding another site. Right now I’m adding almost a site a month.

We have probably 50 medium to large sites worldwide and we’re looking to put video in each site. Then we have a countless number of 2-3 man offices and customer embedded sites so eventually we’ll expand video there as well.

IVCi: Where do you see the most usage and opportunity for growth – room, desktop or mobile?
JK: Right now we use our rooms the most but we’re running out of sites to install video in so we’ll address desktop and mobile. We have experimented with Jabber and rolled out a test deployment about 6 months ago. The problem though, is that Jabber eats up bandwidth, and we need to keep the internal use of bandwidth available. Our engineers transfer huge files across our network and we need to keep bandwidth available for that, so we will have Jabber for desktop video but it will be an as-need basis.

IVCi: Do you have any advice for organizations implementing video for the first time?
JK: Pick a really good implementer, a good partner and don’t let cost be the driving factor of who you select. Good project management is key; it makes implementation a lot easier. From there, just make sure you really evaluate your needs and find what’s appropriate. Video conferencing is great but you have to really promote it with your users so you’re getting that return on investment.