The below video resonates with many people as most of us have been on one of those poorly run audio calls. Never knowing who is or isn’t on the call, the constant interruptions, and not knowing who is typing in the background distracting the rest of the group.

The good news is replacing these audio calls with video can solve a lot of those challenges.  Here’s how:

  • The Role Call:  Since everyone is on video you can easily see who is currently on the call, who just joined and who is missing. No more distracting bloop bloops!
  • The Annoying Background Noise:  The active speaker is automatically displayed in the bigger window so you’ll be easily able to see (and call out) who is distracting the group with their incessant typing or barking dog.
  • The Lack of Direction: Video allows you share content, like a nifty little agenda, so can quickly and easily see what has already been discussed and what still needs to be discussed.
  • The Sleeper: Some people think conference calls are a great time to catch up on lost sleep; while you can get away with this on audio those sheeps jumping over your head are a bit more noticeable on video.
  • The Exploder:  Ever have that one person who all of a sudden freaks out and starts yelling about something that was said? Well with video you can see when one of your colleague’s is starting to get antsy then you can either work to placate him or prepare yourself for said explosion.

So start switching your audio calls to video and enjoy being able to see your colleagues instead of just hear them!

As another year comes to an end it’s time to reflect on the previous year and create new goals for the coming year. Video conferencing has become ever present, cloud services are continuing to grow and collaboration technology is becoming even cooler.  Here is a look at some of our top blog posts from 2013. We hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Have a wonderful and safe New Year and we’ll see you in 2014!

What is Audio Visual Integration?
The term “audio visual integration” is used quite a bit by organizations (including IVCi!) to describe the work that they do. The term is well known within the “industry” and customers may even use the term to describe a potential project, but what does it really mean?

Collaboration for Supply Chain Management
A look into the development of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and how different visual collaboration technologies could have helped with their supply chain management.

Overcoming Obstacles to Telepsychiatry
With the technology used in telepsychiatry becoming more reliable, inexpensive, and ubiquitous, there has been a corresponding increase in mental health professionals who are turning to remote treatments.  However, here are five potential obstacles to telepsychiatry adoption.

What is Collaboration Infographic
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.

5 Best Practices for Conducting a Video Call
Video conferencing has proven to be a great way to enhance collaboration and increase productivity. However, there are important user elements to keep in mind to ensure a successful video call. Here are 5 best practices to keep in mind.

How to Create Effective Collaborations
Collaboration is now considered an integral part of corporate innovation and success. Here are some tips to create a healthy and productive collaboration structure.

Huddle Up and Collaborate
Huddle spaces or teaming rooms are being implemented in more and more organizations. The make-up of a huddle space varies significantly across organizations, but here are a few examples of solutions we have seen.

Top 10 Video Conferencing Terms
With the rise of video conferencing popularity understanding some of these terms is imperative in choosing the right solution.  Here are 10 of the most common terms and their definitions.

Battle of the Displays: Projector vs. Flat Panel
Selecting the correct display plays an integral role in the effectiveness of a collaboration environment as the wrong type of display can provide a poor user experience.  Here is a look at some of the most popular options.

The Yahoo! Fall-Out
Ever since Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! issued her memo calling back remote workers into the office countless stories and commentaries have been written. To understand this decision; let’s take a look at the different types of collaboration that occurs within an organization on a daily basis.

2013 has been another great year for collaboration. A few trends that continue to be at the forefront of innovation include big data, SaaS, Mobility, Content, Social, and Telework. Below we will look back on some of these popular collaboration trends of 2013 and why they continue to help shape collaboration.

Domination of SaaS and the “Cloud”:
SaaS and the Cloud have continued to influence the IT industry this year. SaaS companies have continued to grow, and many providers of on-premise software and hardware options are now introducing SaaS solutions to both complement existing solutions and give alternative options in order to retain their customer base. The benefits of these SaaS solutions include no installation of hardware or software, faster release cycles, pay as you go usage and no maintenance costs. Another reason organizations are moving to cloud-based options is the ability to scale. This flexibility with cloud services allows organizations to purchase for their current usage, expand the solution as demand and usage increases, and add functionality as the business grows.

Mobility Wars:
BYOD is here, and it is not going anywhere. According to IDC, there will be 6-7 mobile devices to every PC by 2016. The challenge is no longer if you will support BYOD, but which devices will make up your BYOD strategy. The mobility war between mobile device manufacturers remains as well, and applications to make these devices more effective continue to expand at rapid rates. With that said, questions are now centered around vendor preference/combination, security, versions, scrubbing and customer data. No doubt, these concerns and decisions will be a main focus this coming year as mobility continues to dominate the forefront of technology and collaboration.

Collision of Video & Content:
Although most people think of video collaboration as only video calls, the ability to display, discuss and annotate content while conducting a video call is extremely important to achieving effective collaboration. Video collaboration and content collaboration have both been around for years as separate entities. This integration of the two has finally matured this year resulting in companies experiencing better collaboration, faster decisions, and ultimately, BETTER experiences!

Convenient Social Collaboration:
Social collaboration is about the casual interactions among colleagues, business partners and even customers that enable creativity and drive innovation. Creating both formal (video/web conferences) and informal (IM or quick video chat) collaboration sessions enables colleagues to brainstorm and make decisions in the most effective manner. Unified communication tools with presence makes it easy to tell when people are available and easily hop from email/IM to video chat. This quick and convenient connection increases interactions among colleagues, which in turn increases productivity and drives innovation.

The Year of the Video Start-Ups:
This year could be called the year of visual collaboration start-ups. Some noteworthy ones include Videxio, Pexip, & Acano. Pexip introduced a scalable software platform that provides personal meeting rooms for any number of users on video, voice, & mobile. Videxio, a subscription based, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering, makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing both possible and easy. Acano brought us coSpaces; virtual meetings rooms where users can connect with any device or application they have with the added benefit of dedicated spaces for people to organize and exchange ideas by storing chat logs, content, and meeting notes. These companies continue to bring innovative solution to the visual collaboration world.

Big Data Boom:
Data continues to grow and based on IDC estimates, will continue to grow at 50% a year and more than double every two years. Companies continue to need to analyze large amounts of data streaming in, understand the voice of the customer in the social media world, and find better ways to create visual data in order to facilitate better and faster decision-making. The growth in big data has created a culture of data-driven analytics used to make key business decisions. Organizations have also been forced to take a closer look at data security and data privacy in order to address and prevent security threats. How organizations use data to gain competitive advantage continues to be a debate, however, the information gathered from handling and managing big data collaboratively is advantageous to any organization.

To Telework or Not to Telework? –  That is the question:
The telecommuting debate has emerged with a vengeance this year due to noteworthy announcements like Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer discontinuing telework policies and the Federal Government’s  introduction of the Stay in Place Cut the waste initiative. Marissa Mayer’s controversial ban on telework centered around her belief that collaboration and communication are important in continuing to build the business and for that to happen effectively, people need to be working side by side. This new policy received harsh criticism ranging from anti-feminisms comments to the belief that Yahoo was moving backwards by removing the ability to telecommute. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act was introduced in July. This would require the government to develop a plan that reduces agency travel expenses by up to 50% by 2017 by implementing video conferencing technologies. By utilizing video conferencing, individuals can stay connected face-to-face without the need for expensive travel and loss of time. Other advocates for telecommuting argue that not only does productivity increase, but employees are also happier and achieve a better work/life balance when they have the option to work remotely. As research continues on both ends, the debate will remain.

Looking back at 2013 illustrates just how important collaboration has become. Organizations throughout the world have upgraded collaboration technologies to mission critical applications. The above trends tell a compelling story about the need to address not only the technological challenges of connecting people but also the social, psychological, and business issues involved in people working together. Ultimately, moving any business forward requires a keen eye on the power of people. In 2014, organizations who have not embraced those ideals will find themselves struggling to compete.

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.

Interoperability almost always comes up anytime video conferencing is discussed. But what exactly is interoperability and why is it so important?

The definition of interoperability is the ability to make systems and organizations work together (inter-operate). In the video world, it is the ability for two video conferencing systems to connect with each other. For example, a Polycom system is interoperable with any other Polycom system. Or, a standards-based video system is interoperable with any other standards-based video system. However, standards-based video systems do not natively interoperate with consumer desktop clients like Skype or Google Video Chat.

So why is interoperability so important?

Let’s look at two different video conferencing scenarios.  Apple FaceTime and H.323 Standards-Based Systems (Polycom/Cisco Endpoints).

FaceTime is an extremely easy to use video client that is available on all Apple devices. Simply open the application, click on a name in your contacts list, and you’re automatically connected over video when that person picks up. However, FaceTime is only available on Apple devices. If I want to call my mother with it, she has to have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. If she does not own one of these devices, I simply cannot call her on FaceTime.  While the application may be a terrific way to video conference, it’s only as great as the people who have these devices.

H.323 on the other hand, is a standard video protocol that manufacturers use to allow their systems to speak the same language. Essentially, any system that is based on H.323 standards can communicate with any other system that is based on H.323. As a result, people can video conference anyone on this platform instead of only being able to connect with people who have a device from the same manufacturer.

This is why interoperability is so important – because of the network effect. The value of video conferencing is dependent upon the number of others using it. Or, in other words, the number of different users and systems people can connect to.  If Cisco systems could only connect to Cisco systems the value of video would be extremely limited. What happens if a company with Cisco equipment wants to video conference with one of its suppliers but the supplier has a Polycom video system?  However, if a Cisco endpoint can connect to Polycom, LifeSize, desktop computers, smartphones and tablets – the value rises exponentially.

Another example is desktop unified communications clients such as Microsoft Lync. These clients handle voice, screen sharing, and video all in one application. In many cases, organizations will deploy Lync to thousands of desktop, enabling video conferencing for nearly all its users. With interoperability those users can participate in meetings that are held in conference rooms and with users on different systems. In the case of Lync, native interoperability is becoming more ubiquitous as Lync continues to grow in popularity.

It is important for organizations to ensure whatever solution they implement is truly interoperable and not built as a “walled garden” that can prevent true collaboration from occurring.