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

Benefits of video conferencing include less travel, but it’s not No. 1
For decades, enterprises have turned to video conferencing in large part as a means of reducing business travel expenses. However, a recent survey by Wainhouse Research of 4,700 end users of video conferencing found that the incentives for using video are shifting: 94% noted that the biggest benefit was increased efficiency and productivity; 88% cited increased impact of discussions; and 87% said video expedited decision-making — the same percentage who said it reduced travel.

Telework Week Saved Feds 14 Million Miles, $13 Million
This year’s Telework Week, which ran March 3-7, drew 163,973 pledges, more than four times the 2011 number. The average Telework Week participant teleworked two days during the week, avoided a 45-mile round-trip commute into the office and saved 4.5 hours and $90 in commuting costs for the week. Nearly all (94 percent) pledges came from the federal government, enabling federal employees to save a collective $13 million in commuting costs, avoid 14 million miles of travel and gain back more than 716,000 hours.

Concierge healthcare services via video – a concept on the rise
Although not a new concept, concierge healthcare services used to be a luxury that only a certain percentage of Americans could possibly afford. Changes in the healthcare system and economic drivers may be changing that. Under this model, doctors essentially work under retainer, being paid monthly fees to offer healthcare services to a patient or family. Healthcare practices operating in a concierge healthcare model could utilize telemedicine solutions to conduct many of their house calls and appointments. This diminishes the travel element and enables medical professionals to see just as many, if not more, patients each day. Telemedicine can also allow doctors to cast a much wider net for their patients.

Mobility Tops the List of Digital Priorities
If you thought either big data analytics or cloud computing initiatives rank at the top of today’s digital agenda, guess again. Mobility strategies hold a clear edge, according to a recent survey from Accenture. The resulting report, “Mobility: Fueling the Digital Surge,” demonstrates how much further ahead “mobility leader” organizations are on their progress toward these goals, compared to the rest of the field. And while the required commitment here is clearly evident at the very highest levels of organizational leadership, there are still many obstacles that CIOs must overcome.

Get ready for new ATM’s
Recently, more and more banks are starting to equip their ATM’s with technological upgrades, one of those being video conferencing. Banks are working on technology tools to give customers new, faster ways to interact with their branches. ATMs with touch screens will soon work with our smartphones. New apps will help zip cash to you as quickly as you can snap a picture. Videoconferencing with representatives in call centers lets banks extend hours for basic services and screen tellers can handle about 95 percent of typical bank transactions. This allows both customers and banks to increase productivity and efficiency when handling transactions and consultations.

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

7 steps to unified comm – and control over mobility services
In the three years since passage of the Telework Enhancement Act, government agencies have been spending a significant share of their time and budget to make sure they have what they need to support their exploding mobile workforce. Even so, all too often, agencies have launched mobile and collaboration technologies irregularly and without coordination, largely because new requirements popped up or budget became available.

Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve
Collaboration applications have a purpose: to bring people together whenever there are decisions to make and information to share. The experiences of our customers have shown that regular fine-tuning of a collaboration infrastructure is necessary in how IT organizations look at optimization. Using Optimization services can pave the way for a smooth transition – and prevent unpleasant surprises — when new applications are ready to move into production.

Bringing healthcare services to students at school
For communities that don’t have access to local healthcare providers, or for families that simply can’t afford to visit doctors and specialists, the local public school can be the primary healthcare provider for their children. Unfortunately, the healthcare services available in these schools are often limited. To help increase the access to quality healthcare services, many schools are looking to telemedicine solutions. Utilizing advanced video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions connected to scopes and other medical devices, these telemedicine solutions enable an on-site nurse or aid to consult with a nurse practitioner or doctor via video to deliver care to a student.

3 Tips for Overcoming Open-Space AV Challenges
One of the many challenges facing commercial audiovisual professionals today is the lack of space for installed equipment. The move to open space in the corporate world has burdened many design engineers with the challenge of where to put the gear. Today’s office spaces are taking on the characteristics of living rooms, home-style kitchens and dens. Gone are the cookie-cutter, four-walled conference rooms and cubicle spaces. This switch in office design is pushing us in the AV industry to change our traditional approach to system integration.

What Is the U.S. Digital Government Office?
According to a press release from Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), “Studies show that 94 percent of major government IT projects between 2003 and 2012 came in over budget, behind schedule, or failed completely.” Congresswoman Eshoo, a member of the communications and technology subcommittee, along with Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.), proposed that a U.S. Digital Government Office be created to fix what has become a major problem for the federal government. The bill, known as the Reforming Federal Procurement of Information Technology Act (RFP-IT), would be a key step toward eliminating wasteful spending in the government.

Last week Cisco hosted their 2013 Collaboration Summit where Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, delivered the key note address which included Cisco’s collaboration strategy as well as new product announcements.

Trollope started with memories of his first computer; how technology at work surpassed what was available to him at home. In the past few years though, with the advent of the smartphones and tablets along with Facebook and other social networking sites, technology available to consumers at home has surpassed the technology available at work which has led to a sense of frustration. There is significant opportunity for advancement in the enterprise technology space and Trollope stated that Cisco is working “to make the technology we have at work as great or better than the technology we have at home.”

Trollope also stated that at Cisco, he not only had access to a lot of different collaboration technologies but the opportunity to use them. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not have this opportunity due  to different barriers; a lack of access, cost of implementation and complexity to name a few. Therefore, Cisco is committing to three goals; to make technology easier to use, easier to buy and to bring it all together. By making the technology more accessible, reducing the complexity, and delivering it at the right price more people will be able to take advantages of the benefits collaboration has to offer.

The goal, in Trollope’s words, is to “Make Collaboration Simple” and drive the next innovation cycle. Cisco will do this in the following ways:

  • User experience:  integrating the technologies they have and making them more intuitive
  • IT support: making the technology easy to deploy, manage, and run
  • Partners: making it easy to buy, sell and support Cisco solutions

Finally, Trollope announced and demonstrated a few new products.  Two key themes were cloud and mobility; hide the complexity of technology in the cloud and embrace mobility in the enterprise.  A few noteworthy announcements include:

  • Collaboration Systems Release: Cisco is testing everything together to make sure all components works together.
  • Cisco Expressway: Offers a secure tunnel into collaboration technologies without having to VPN into the network.
  • Cisco Jabber Guest: Turns virtual customer service into a reality by allowing organizations to integrate video into their website.
  • Intelligent Proximity App (currently in testing): Provides the ability for someone to walk into a room and pull the content to a smartphone or tablet. Users can also bring their personal directory with them and use it on the intelligent device in the room.

In closing, Trollope said “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The products being unveiled represent a new direction in collaboration technologies and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they come out with next!

Watch the full replay of Trollope’s speech here.

Part One and Part Two in this series focused on having a solid usage plan as well as properly preparing your network for mobile video. This last part focuses on adoption of mobile video and a positive end user experience. Usage, adoption, and positive experiences are paramount when rolling out a new technology. Having a clear program in place for those aspects helps to ensure adoption and a positive end user experience. This plan focuses on the following key areas:

  • Promotion
  • Training
  • Support
  • Tracking

All of these pieces go together to best create a usage and adoption plan. Starting with promoting the new technology is as important as tracking usage and user experience as an on-going process. Understanding all of the steps in this process will help to create an effective implementation as well as assist in ensuring a positive on-going experience.

Download our User Experience and Adoption Checklist to help you put a solid plan in place.

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As stated in Part 1 of this series, when choosing to deploy a mobile video strategy, having a plan of attack is of utmost importance. The first step was defining the video environment to determine what is necessary for a successful implementation. The second step in developing a mobile video strategy is to assess different aspects of the organization’s network environment. This focuses on the following key areas:

  • Office Network
  • Remote Network
  • Infrastructure
  • Platform Consideration
  • Active Directory Integration

Specifically, this means that attention needs to be paid to an office’s wireless network configuration, remote network essentials, defined software platforms, necessary infrastructure, and determination of active directory integration.

For example, it is imperative to understand potential bandwidth consumption so as to prepare the network with adequate bandwidth capacity. Implementing a mobile video strategy can cause an explosion of bandwidth usage, which can be crippling to a network if not adjusted properly. Understanding these necessary steps when preparing a network for mobile video will help to ensure an effective and successful implementation.

Download our network considerations guide to get started with planning your mobile video strategy.

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