Enterprise Connect 2014 Recap

As I boarded my flight home from Orlando last Thursday I sifted through all of the great things I saw while at Enterprise Connect as well as the fantastic customer and partner interaction I had. Enterprise Connect continues to grow in its size and scope and is quickly becoming THE show for unified communications and collaboration.

Looking back at all the sessions, keynotes, and vendors there were several key trends that emerged from the show that are worthy of discussion.

Lync Domination
The adoption of Microsoft Lync as a full unified communications solution continues to accelerate. At IVCi’s booth this year there were so many companies looking for guidance on how to integrate Lync into the rest of their technology stack (room video conferencing, mobility, etc). Nearly every conversation we had in the IVCi booth focused, at least, partially on Lync. In Gurdeep Singh Pall’s keynote he revealed that 60% of enterprises have deployed or are planning to deploy Lync. Based upon the interactions at show, this does not seem unrealistic. Beyond the countless deployments, it was clear from the number of solutions on the show floor featuring Lync integration that its presence is ever expanding.

Single Solution, Not So Fast…
Manufacturers have been touting the concept of a single solution for many years. They wanted users to implement their solution across the board and rely on one source for everything, namely because it would lock their users in. However, it was clear that this trend is just not happening. In both my own interactions as well as in numerous panel discussions, the topic of single source came up. Ultimately, organizations are implementing multiple solutions for a myriad of reasons. The end result is a lot of technology that simply does not talk to each other properly. Providers like Acano are looking to be the connection between many of these environments and help to provide a more, pardon the pun, unified solution.

WebRTC…Getting There
This year’s WebRTC conference within a conference was another sell out with standing room attendance for most sessions. More and more vendors are turning to WebRTC to help solve interoperability challenges and to create a single click solution. Many manufacturers are embracing this technology (Unifiy’s Project Ansible is entirely WebRTC) but challenges continue. Browser ubiquity is not there yet, Chrome, Opera and Firefox are supported, but others are not (Internet Explorer, Safari). Even within the browsers supporting the standard we are seeing a bit of a fork in terms of functionality. Chrome now supports two-way content sharing, which is a big development, especially for content centric collaboration sessions. This functionality is not yet available in other WebRTC implementations. WebRTC is making major strides but it has not truly arrived at the level of ubiquity it needs. The next year should be interesting to see how this develops.

It’s All About the Experience
From the keynotes to the show floor; many were speaking less and less about the thechnology and more about the user experience. This is perhaps the most promising trend in the industry as manufacturers are really starting to focus on the user and not whiz-bang features. The proof will be in the pudding, but this is an exciting trend that I certainly hope will continue.

For someone who has worked in the world of collaboration and unified communications for a number of years it is easy to get carried away by the latest cool technology but this year I was just reminded by how “cool” collaboration technology is and how much it has become a part of business.  I look forward to this year’s developments and Enterprise Connect 2015. See you there!

What interested you most at Enterprise Connect? Tweet us @IVCiLLC!

Call-Control-Blog-Header

What is Call Control?

Call control, by definition, is the process used in communication networks to connect, maintain, route, and terminate connections between endpoints. It is a tool by which organizations can achieve different features or results.

What Does Call Control Do?

Call control provides intelligent traffic and routing and is required for communication beyond point-to-point IP dialing; meaning you have to remember and then enter a 12 digit IP address to connect over video. Here are the tops ways call control can enhance an organizations collaboration environment:

  1. Enable External B2B & B2C Collaboration: Call control provides an easy and secure way to connect with business partners and customers located outside of the network. It allows internal users to stay behind a firewall while still connecting over video allowing users to connect with anyone.
  2. Mobile & BYOD Communication: Call control allows voice or video calls to be routed to multiple devices simultaneously. For example, a call can ring on my desk phone, desktop client and iPhone and I can answer on the device I have available. If I am at my desk I can answer via my desk phone, at home I can answer via my desktop client, and if I’m on the road I can answer via my mobile phone. This eliminates the need for multiple phone numbers.
  3. Unify Disparate Communication Platforms: Call control provides a link between voice, video, IM & Presence clients and allows users to collaborate seamlessly among these applications. For example, colleagues can initiate a conversation through IM then switch over to an audio or video call with the click of a button.
  4. User Friendly Dial Plan: Instead of dialing a phone number or video IP address, users can simply click on name and automatically connect to the call. This can be formatted in a name@company.com address for external video calls and can be added to a global phonebook for internal users.

How Do I Get Call Control?

Call control is not a box with a vendor’s name on it; it is a process that can be performed by several different types of architecture. Determining call control technology depends on the use case and application. Ask yourself the questions below:

  • Do you have existing video endpoints or are you looking to purchase them?
  • Do you wish to communicate with business partners and customers who are external to your network?
  • What are the call patters? Are they point-to-point or multipoint?
  • Do you use IP, H323ID/Alias or SIP URI Dialing?
  • Are voice and video platforms integrated? Is this an objective?

Based on the answers to those questions, a visual collaboration technology partner can recommend the appropriate device. These can include Cisco BE6K, Cisco Collaboration Edge, Polycom Cloud Axis and Polycom DMA.

If you’re interested in learning more about call control or how IVCi can enhance your visual collaboration or unified communications experience tweet us @IVCiLLC or click here to send us an email.

Corporate New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, for New Year’s Resolutions. While individuals resolve to eat healthier and stay in touch more with family and friends, organizations can also take this time to establish new company-wide initiatives that not only affect the bottom line but can also motivate and inspire their teams. Here are a few resolutions companies can drive for 2014:

Reinforce Green Behavior
This can be accomplished is numerous ways such as reducing travel, replacing paper with digital documents or encouraging carpooling among coworkers. It helps to set specific goals such as replacing 10% of business travel with video conferencing or visual collaboration sessions. Additionally, companies can introduce week or month long initiatives to promote recycling, carpooling or reducing the use of paper. For example, a company can declare March carpool month and encourage colleagues who live close to each other to carpool twice a week during the month.

Increase Collaboration Across Teams
Many organizations and teams suffer from information silos; people concentrate on their own tasks instead of the team’s overarching goals or the roles of their colleagues. Companies can help improve collaboration by implementing a company newsletter or deploying unified communications technologies. Newsletters help improve company-wide communication while UC technologies give colleagues the opportunity to connect in both formal (video and web conferences) and informal (IM and video chat) ways. Increased communication and collaboration can help drive productivity through faster decision making and more efficient processes.

Implement Corporate Wellness Programs
The benefits of exercise are enormous and include increased energy, improved moods, reduced stress levels and better sleep. This can translate into happier and more productive employees which can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. Companies can implement a corporate wellness program by providing employees an activity tracker like Fitbit then encourage colleagues to be more active with daily goals and weekly challenges. “Combining collaborative and competitive elements helped motivate employees to walk more and encourage each other. Our staff has been happier and more productive [in the office]” said Maggie Utgoff from Hack Reactor, an organization that recently implemented a similar program.

These are just a few initiatives companies can resolve implement in 2014 to help motivate and inspire their teams. As with any resolution though, have a firm plan in place so resolutions don’t fall by the wayside come February!

This-week-in-collaboration

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

Santa’s Special Connections

Connected Santa is a program that Cisco Systems has created in which volunteer elves visit hospitals to help make the connection between children and Santa using Cisco Telepresence and Jabber technology. The elves will make a video conference call with Santa so they can have the important conversations about whether they have been good or bad and what is on their wish list.

The “must-have” of mobility

Mobility is no longer a nice to have in healthcare, it is becoming a necessity and an expectation. Two technologies reviewed in this article are ad-hoc video conferencing and streaming technologies. Mobile technology brings new thinking about collaboration and EMR.

Inside The Huddle Room: The new collaborative work space

The huddle room has changed the conference room business. The huddle room is basically where personal telepresence meets group collaboration. From HD video conferencing to desktop collaboration, these high powered systems for huddle rooms can make these small rooms into powerful capsules of collaboration.

Businesses Embrace the Total Collaboration Model

Teamwork is undergoing a revolution with organizations weaving tools, technologies and systems together. One of the main factors in how to operate an enterprise successfully depends on how effectively workers are able to effectively communicate and collaborate. The answer to this lies in unified communications including mobility, cloud capabilities and social collaboration

Mobile and online collaboration leading the way in events management

Events have changed over the last few years. They have gone from just attending an event and then leaving, to being a much more collaborative experience both during, before and after. To achieve great events, organizations need to include online collaboration tools such as video streaming, Facebook, Pinterest and twitter for example, to foster communication between attendees and exhibitors. Using these technologies also helps brands both listen and interact with their community, which is essential for not only successful events, but also a successful brand.

Collaboration means different things to different people. But at the end of the day it’s all about connecting people and giving them the ability to work together. The need for these types of connections continue to grow as workforces become more global and dispersed.

When people are connected they can share ideas, brainstorm on new initiatives, collaborate on deliverables and so much more.

We created the below infographic to highlight the many forms that collaboration can take, what some of the benefits are, where collaboration happens and the tools available.