I attended a recent community meeting to hear about a proposed 600-home development to be built on what is now one large open space parcel. One of the concerns raised was the fact the developer had only one entrance to the proposed neighborhood, which would connect to a two-lane road. With a normal ratio of homes to cars, that translates to a lot of cars trying to squeeze into a small space during rush hour.

The meeting quickly devolved into a gripe session about the overall state of traffic in the area. My neighborhood has three separate entrances, and it seems the most difficult part of any commute is to get out onto the main thoroughfare at 8:00 a.m. on a weekday morning. Not to mention at the end of the two-lane road, the City is planning to install a roundabout to alter a dangerous intersection. I suggested that training ought to be provided for roundabouts, since I have yet to see anyone use them as anything other than a four-way stop. Polite Southerners mixing with more aggressive drivers from other regions (you know who you are) is an interesting combination.

I am fortunate that I am able to work from my home office when I am not travelling or meeting with customers. By using the calculator found on the Georgia Clean Air Campaign’s website, a daily commute of 20 miles (which is far below the average daily commute of most Atlantans), would cost me approximately $2,500 annually as opposed to working from home; calculated by gas usage, gas price, wear and tear, repairs, etc. Even being able to telecommute just one day per week would provide a savings of over $500 annually, based on the same averages.

Unified Communications solutions, with or without video conferencing capabilities, have become commonplace, and allow employees to collaborate with a co-worker at a moment’s notice. Despite recent news headlines suggesting otherwise, you can be seen and heard working remotely. Why not take full advantage of those capabilities from your home office? You might also be far more productive without having to sit in all that traffic.

You probably already have a high-speed Internet connection at home so your kids can play interactive games and download movies, so why not use that for business purposes? If more people took advantage of working from home even once per week, chances are traffic in your neighborhood would look a lot better, and we might need to build fewer roundabouts.

 

Enterprise Connect 2013 has come to a close and what an event it was. This was IVCi’s first year attending and exhibiting at the show and it was a fantastic experience that provided many opportunities for us to connect with our current customers as well as future prospects. In addition, the opportunity to see the latest technology and offerings from our partners was great. The event was jam-packed with great sessions, keynotes, exhibitors, attendees and more. Here is an overview of some of the key takeaways and messages from the event.

WebRTC
WebRTC (as previously covered here on Collaboration Insight) is a new browser based protocol that allows for real-time voice and video communication to occur right inside a web browser. WebRTC has gotten to be so big; the conference dedicated an entire track to the topic and every session was full. The reality of WebRTC is that not all browsers currently support it (only Google Chrome and the developer builds of Firefox) but the potential for it is endless.

At the end of the day, WebRTC will enable any browser to be a video client or endpoint on a communications network. In Cisco’s keynote, the example of a shopper on a website was used. They were looking for accessories and information on a his store  purchases. They simply clicked a link and a video session was initiated with an expert back in a video call center. No wait to download a client and no security issues with the install; it simply happened in the browser. When the standard is ratified and included in all browsers, the potential will be limitless! Cisco demoed a Jabber client built entirely in the browser, contact center agents could access their voice services right within the browser and more. It has to the potential to breakdown interoperability issues and extend enterprise collaboration to an organization’s customers.

Unified Communications
Frost and Sullivan presented a session at the conference in which they defined unified communications as “an integrated set of voice, data and video communications applications, all of which leverage PC- and telephony-based presence information.” UC was in full force at the conference with all major players showing their latest innovations. Both Cisco and Microsoft came with their entire vision. Microsoft presented their total solution from mobile devices (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) to tablets (Surface, iPad) to desktops and even room systems. The solution was elegant and worked as advertised. Microsoft has been pitching this vision for a while and it was great to see it fully realized. At the same time, Cisco showcased their Jabber solution which offers interoperability across all platforms and seamlessly integrates voice, video, data sharing, and more.

The key takeaway about UC is that the technology is very real and organizations are definitely implementing or looking to implement it in their current short term roadmap. Voice, video, and everything in between have converged!

The Cloud and Mobility
There was not a session that didn’t include a discussion around how cloud delivery and mobile devices would influence employees and technology. Even sitting in the sessions themselves one could see dozens of attendees taking notes on their iPads, checking email, and ultimately staying connected. The discussion of cloud, however, must be secondary. The user of the technology, how it can impact user productivity must be first. How it is delivered (on-premise, cloud, etc) is a decision that comes after.

Business Case
Perhaps the most exciting trend seen at Enterprise Connect was a focus on making the business case for the technology being presented. Certainly there was a large amount of discussion around the technology itself, the features, etc. But in many of the sessions, the business case for collaboration technology was continually presented. Some of the key messaging was around how these technologies can help move a business forward and help fulfill strategic goals. Additionally, simply deploying technology does not equal success. Organizations must see widespread adoption and employee satisfaction to really judge if the technology implementation was a success.

See the future of enterprise communications, listen to thought leaders and comprehensive analysis, attend in-depth technical sessions, and of course stop by Booth #330 to visit IVCi!

Enterprise Connect (formerly VoiceCon) is the premiere event and exhibition for all things enterprise communications and collaboration. Sessions cover areas from Unified Communications to Video Conferencing to Social Media.

Some of the sessions we are most excited about are Building a UC & Collaboration Roadmap, Building a UC Business Case and Emerging Video Technologies. Click here to view the entire conference schedule as there are a lot of great sessions.

In other exciting news, we just found out the UC Room was selected as a finalist for the Best of Enterprise Connect! The Judging Committee reviewed over 40 entries and selected six finalists based on products with the most significant technical impact, helping to revolutionize the enterprise communications industry.

The winner is going to be announced during the Keynote speech on Wednesday, March 20 at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

We would obviously love to see you there so we’re passing along a special offer!

Save 40% off the on-site price for the Entire Event and Tue-Thu Conference Packages or register for a Free Expo Pass with Priority Code EIIVCI.

*Photo courtesy of Enterprise Connect 2012

Polycom’s recent announcement of breakthrough solutions that will remove the last barriers impeding the universal adoption of video collaboration has analysts, partners and customers buzzing.

Be one of the first to experience first-hand the most exciting new solutions from Polycom including:

  • RealPresence® CloudAXIS™ – enterprise-grade video collaboration for anyone with a browser, including users of Skype™, Facebook, Google Talk™
  • SmartPairing™ –  wireless control of video meetings using Apple iPad; transfer live video calls from the tablet to the big screen with the swipe of a finger
  • Enhanced Whiteboarding – virtual whiteboard embedded in video conferencing platform for on-screen annotation, touchscreen support, and simplified content sharing to the whiteboard

See the solutions the entire industry has been talking about!

Date: November 14, 2012
Time: 9am-11am EST (8am-10am CST)
Locations:

  • - Andover, MA
    - Chicago, IL
    - Herndon, VA
    - New York, NY

Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!

 

 

As many of you know Hurricane Sandy roared through the Northeast earlier this week and wreaked havoc in New York City and Long Island (IVCi’s Headquarters). Monday night my husband and I simply watched the sky light up as trees blew over and knocked down transformers. Approximately 90% of Long Island’s power was knocked out, along with all of lower Manhattan, due to immense flooding and downed trees/power lines.

The effects of Hurricane Sandy will be felt for days from as close as New York to as far as Japan. The New York Stock Exchange closed for the longest time since 1888. Airports from Washington DC to Boston closed while New York’s LaGuardia flooded in dramatic fashion. Unprecedented damage has been done to New York’s subway system with seven tunnels completely underwater; keeping the city’s main method of transportation closed.

However, just because New York is shut down doesn’t mean the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world, stops working. Therefore, it is extremely important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place. This allows the business to continue functioning; even if at a reduced capacity. Redundancy and communication, both internal and external, are key components of any business continuity plan. Management must ensure they are able to communicate with employees effectively and minimize the impact on customers.

Most importantly, a back-up generator is crucial to keep an organization’s operations running. Email, video and voice calls are only valuable if they work; therefore, it is important to ensure email servers and other key applications have power, even if the actual office is closed. This allows remote employees to continue working; either from home, their local coffee shop or wherever they can get power and a wifi connection.

Additionally, video conferencing and unified communications solutions are useful not only in the wake of natural disasters, but in the planning and preparation for one as well. For example, city officials and other emergency response teams need to communicate with each other to minimize the disaster’s impact and ensure the safety of citizens. The ability to quickly connect over video results in faster updates and quicker decision making which are critical in any emergency situation.

Finally, as the clean up and rebuilding process continues, we appreciate your understanding with delayed responses. In addition to little power, approximately 25% of cell towers and many network/data lines are down. As a result, communication is extremely difficult for many people.

For those of you looking to help, a little donation goes a long way. Visit http://www.redcross.org/, call 800-Red-Cross, or text the word “redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. All donations will provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by the storm. Thank you!

*Photo courtesy of Huffington Post