Video conferencing has quickly become a major tool that many companies utilize. Cory Johnson of Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West” talked with Cisco Senior Vice President Collaboration Technology Group, Rowan Trollope, via video about the adoption rate of video conferencing.

Trollope gave some insight into Cisco saying that about 38% of Cisco’s employees do not work at the same site as their managers; however,  it’s not really an issue  thanks to video conferencing. Video collaboration technology has allowed managers and employees to stay in touch with one another and chat about certain projects or simply to keep one another updated. Connecting via high video quality is just as productive, if not more productive, than in person interaction because video conferencing forces participants to sit down, discuss the issue at hand, and then find a solution.

Video conferencing has not only advanced the companies that utilize it, but the technology itself has also advanced, allowing users to collaborate on the go on devices such as cell phones, laptops or tablets. Rather than being limited to a conference room, users can participate in a conference via mobile devices due to the advancement in equipping such devices with cameras. Now, it is possible to make a video conference call just about anywhere.

According to Trollope, about 89% of Cisco employees work at home once a week, and are able to communicate with other employees and participate in meetings through telecommuting. It is very difficult to follow along on a conference call when there is no face to put to a voice. The quality of an audio call is simply not the same as a video call. When you use high definition video, it is much easier to follow the conversation and participants can focus on the task at hand as opposed to trying to figure out who is speaking.

While it seems that only large corporations would find a need for video conferencing, smaller companies and even individuals can utilize the benefits of video conferencing. Companies of all shapes and sizes currently use video conferencing as a key tool and are pulling for quality and reliable video conferencing devices to benefit their own business.

To see Cory Johnson’s interview with Rowan Trollope, check out the video below and see how Cisco has grown because of video conferencing!

 

When thinking about movie production, video conferencing and collaboration is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, producer Jerry Bruckheimer agrees that thanks to video conferencing, producing films is much more successful and efficient. Rather than spending excess amounts of money on travel costs so directors, producers, and actors can be in the same location, video collaboration has allowed the flow of communication to be unaffected by the lack of physical presence. Bruckheimer certainly utilizes his Cisco TelePresence set up, and is in constant communication with everyone on his production team.

When making a movie, it is nearly impossible to have every member of the production team in the same location. As a result, video collaboration equipment is becoming the newest member of every production team. Directors and producers can work with their cast from across the globe, and work out final touches with editors in an instant. There is a large amount of data that is transferred throughout the film-making process, and Cisco TelePresence makes it easier to move around. The way that technology has changed the way films are produced is remarkable; pretty soon even movie theaters will be digital, and physical film will no longer be needed.

With this drastic change in technology, many people question whether it’s the best option, particularly in Hollywood when the director/actor relationship is key. Losing that in-person interaction is a difficult thing to replace, however the face to face interaction provided by video collaboration is helpful in establishing that relationship. Video conferencing has not only helped producers keep in touch with their teams, it has also helped choreographers teach their dance students, and even inmates going through arraignment.

The benefits of video conferencing are well known in the enterprise world; now they are making their way into other career fields as the technology continues to grow. Soon we will see the impact of video conferencing and collaboration in everyday life.

Check out the video below to watch Cisco’s interview with award winning film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and see for yourself how much of a difference video conferencing has already made in the film industry!

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.

Infocomm, the largest industry tradeshow for all things communications, was held earlier this month. The show focuses on audio visual technology including the technologies that are used to build collaborative room environments.  Major visual collaboration vendors also setup large booths to showcase and demo their recent offerings to the public and their partners. This year, a trend that we have consistently been seeing in video came to fruition.

In a previous post, we discussed the move of video conferencing to software and virtualization. At the show this year, a plethora of products were announced that follow this exact model. Rather than provide a breakdown of every company and their new solutions, let’s take a look at the common themes throughout all of the announcements.

Software Based
Each new product and solution that was announced was entirely software based. What does that mean? Gone are the days of specialized hardware or DSPs that are purpose built for a particular video conferencing application. Instead, manufacturers are writing software that can either be loaded on off- the-shelf servers or deployed on virtual servers. A significant benefit to this trend is increased scalability, can easily add or delete users without having to purchase more hardware. Not only does this help reduce the costs associated with video it allows more people to access to the technology.

It’s About Collaboration
Video conferencing vendors are beginning to recognize that simply meeting via video isn’t enough. The need for users to collaborate with others on documents and deliverables is growing in importance. Nearly all of the software based announcements included features around content sharing, annotation and white boarding and even the ability to store perpetual notes in a virtual room that can be revisited. These features will elevate video from individual meetings to on-going collaborative sessions that can start and stop organically.

Go Mobile or Go Home
Not surprising, mobile devices took center stage at Infocomm and all of the video related announcements included significant functionality around them. For a short time, the ability to simply join a video meeting on your mobile device was enough. Users were blown away by the convenience of being able to join from anywhere. However, early solutions provided limited functionality for those mobile attendees. Manufacturers have realized that simply joining from a mobile device is no longer enough. End users want the ability to join, share content, control the meeting and have no restrictions based on their device. Some really exciting features include the ability to connect to meetings with multiple devices, screen share directly from a tablet or smartphone, and more.

As Far as the Eye Can See
As previously mentioned, these new software platforms are lowering the cost of implementing video across all users in an organization. Beyond that, the importance of being able to extend visual collaboration to anyone outside of the organization has become a major feature. All solutions are allowing anyone to join via a web browser, a UC client, or a myriad of other solutions currently in use. Instead of requiring uses to take special steps to join a meeting, they can join with whatever software, device, or solution they are currently utilizing.

The transition to software in collaboration is happening quickly and the latest solutions are a testament to that. With this new model, the development time for new features and support is rapidly increasing so users will have access to the latest tools as soon as they are available. It’s an exciting time for people everywhere as their ability to be connected is increasing exponentially!