Audio Conferencing vs Video Conferencing. Which one should you go for?
Sight or sound? Video or audio? A human face or a human voice? If these were the only questions that confronted you before your next planned conference call, the choice would be obvious–a video conference is more personal, more engaging, and more dynamic than an audio call.
Things aren’t that straightforward though. A video call requires cameras and a screen. It makes much higher demands on your internet connection than audio. Connecting a video call means checking that the people on the other end are using the same video conferencing providers–for all their advances VC vendors still refuse to cross-communicate with each other.
So, do you settle for audio only? Luckily, the video conferencing industry is aware of the extra burden video entails. And they’re trying to make things simpler. If they succeed, then video conferencing vs. audio conferencing will no longer be a debate–because video conferencing is audio conferencing–just upgraded with human faces.
Video Conferencing Vs. Audio Conferencing
In truth, we live in an age of messaging in which the conference call is one of the few areas where the clash between audio and video even matters. The average adult is 2.6 times more likely to send a message than make a call. No one calls from the train to say they’re going to get home a little late–they send a text. No one jumps on Skype to show off their new shoes–they just send a Snap. Even in the office, workplace collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft’s Teams are replacing calls with message threads.
Messages won’t cut it, however, when it comes time for a big presentation or office-to-office meeting–times when you want a more personal touch and a greater ability to present and discuss information.
Now the decision becomes: Audio or visual?
The Ease of Audio – The hardware side of the debate is where audio has it over video. The reason why is obvious. Audio only requires a conference bridge, so multiple callers can call in over a network or the internet (VoIP) through a central control hub equipped with microphones and speakers. Video, at a minimum, needs all that plus screens and cameras to display and convey images.
The basics required for a video conference–a smart 4K webcam, central hub, and speaker mics. All those necessary peripherals also make setting up a video conference-enabled room much more complicated than its audio-only cousin.
The Complication of Video
There’s only one thing you have to worry about when setting up an audio-only conference call: Can everyone be heard? Generally, this involves placing the main hub in the center of the room and then scattering around some attached microphones, or ensuring the central phone is sensitive enough to be used by the entire group.
Video, on the other hand, requires you to think about how each person appears on camera. Traditionally, this means seating everyone in a horseshoe shape around a central screen and camera. There are some great active-speaker, automated cameras available that will track from person to person around the table as each person speaks, but these are expensive and still require thoughtful seating.
While both audio and visual solutions must combat in-room noise, video has the added bugbear of having to account for lighting. Again, there are solutions around, such as technology built into webcams that can adjust to compensate for a change in light levels, but it’s an added problem audio doesn’t care about.
As we mentioned before, video will also make far more demands on an internet connection than audio ever will. While it’s safe to assume most companies are on unlimited corporate data plans, having to push through a signal that’s many times heavier than audio means many connections can’t handle high-end streaming, especially 4K visuals, at all.
So, why go to all this trouble and expense to host a video conference? It’s nature. We’re visual creatures, and we understand through our eyes just as much as through our ears.
Video Offers a Better Experience
In general, most people prefer the real-time reactions and emotions of a human face when conducting a meeting over a disembodied voice. In addition to better mimicking the human side of a meeting, video conferencing also lets callers exchange media-rich information–you can display videos and photos, share your computer screen, or watch third-party content like YouTube. Also, you can share files and documents instantly without having to consult a BYO computer as you would with audio only.
Video conferencing vendors are trying to make things easier for their users to capitalize on this natural superiority. Microsoft recently unveiled a new range of Skype Room Systems, which act as central touchscreen hubs to make starting a video call simple. Larger room systems are being expanded to provide control over everything from the webcams to the air conditioning and the blinds. VC is also going portable with all-in-one webcams that can be deployed quickly and that cater for small huddle room groups.
Comparing the experience of an audio conference with that of a video conference is not like comparing a Honda Civic with a BMW 4 Series. It’s like comparing a bicycle with a car. Yes, bikes are a lot cheaper and they’ll get the job done, but come on…for most things, a car is just a more convenient and complete solution, even if it’s a little more complicated to operate.
Collaboration made easy with IP enabled Video Phones
A VoIP phone is a hardware- or software-based telephone designed to use voice over IP (VoIP) technology to send and receive phone calls over an IP network. The phone converts analog telephony audio into a digital format that can be transmitted over the internet and converts incoming digital phone signals from the internet to standard telephone audio.
VoIP phones, also known as IP phones, include features and capabilities not found in traditional analog phones. They also have additional performance requirements because phone calls are placed over the internet instead of the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN).
How does a VoIP phone work?
Some VoIP phones require A/C adapters for power, while others use Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE uses an Ethernet cable instead of an A/C adapter and removes the need for separate power and data cables.
Several networking components are required to make VoIP phones work. Phones are assigned IP addresses through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), which automatically configures the network and the VoIP parameters. A domain name system (DNS) tracks the IP addresses to enable devices, such as IP phones, to connect to each other.
VoIP phones require a number of protocols to facilitate the delivery of voice communications over the internet. H.323 is the most commonly used VoIP protocol that supports audio, video and data communications across IP networks. It provides several VoIP functions, including bandwidth management and call control.
Session initiation protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol that sets up VoIP connections and is used as an alternative to H.323. Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) is used to send and receive multimedia information between two devices. VoIP services use RTP and SIP or H.323 to stream multimedia content. The Simple Traversal of UDP through NAT(STUN) protocol is used on some SIP-based VoIP phones to enable communications behind network firewalls, which can sometimes block SIP and RTP packets.
Some providers use their own proprietary protocols for VoIP phones. For example, the Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP) is a proprietary Cisco standard for communicating with H.323 VoIP systems.
Types of VoIP phones
The two main types of IP phones are hardware-based and software-based phones.
Physically, a hardware-based VoIP phone resembles a traditional hard-wired or cordless telephone. These phones include physical features such as a speakerphone or microphone, a touchpad, and display hardware to show user input and caller ID. VoIP phones also feature call transfer, multiparty calling and support for multiple VoIP accounts. Some VoIP phones can transmit and receive image data during calls, so they are considered video telephones.
Software-based IP phones, also known as softphones, are software clients installed on a user’s computer or mobile device. The softphone user interface often resembles a phone handset, with a touchpad and caller ID display. A headset with a microphone that connects to the computer or mobile device is encouraged, or sometimes required, to make calls. Users can also make calls using their device if it includes a built-in microphone
Softphone clients offer similar capabilities to hardware-based IP phones, such as voicemail, call conferencing and call transfer. Some clients may offer additional capabilities, such as video conferencing and instant messaging, however.
Traditional analog phones may also be converted into IP phones by connecting to an analog telephone adapter (ATA). Analog phones can be converted by plugging the Ethernet network jack into the ATA, which then connects to the phone. The analog phone will connect to the internet rather than the PSTN, and it will appear to the phone system as a VoIP phone.
Advantages and disadvantages of VoIP phones
- Organizations can reduce calling costs by switching to VoIP services. While traditional analog phones can have lower upfront costs, they are more costly to support, upgrade and integrate with communications applications. IP phones also offer cheaper long-distance and international calls, as VoIP phone calls are charged at the local rate of the call’s destination.
- VoIP phones offer greater mobility and scalability than traditional handsets. If an organization moves to a new location, it doesn’t need to acquire new phone lines, which it would with a traditional phone system. Adding new phones to a VoIP system is only limited by the available bandwidth on the organization’s network. Softphones also provide increased mobility, as the clients are not tied to physical locations like they would be with hard-wired phones.
- VoIP phones can also integrate with other communications applications. For example, organizations can integrate their customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP phones to enhance caller ID and keep records of call information.
- VoIP phones, however, do have disadvantages. For example, VoIP phones require a reliable internet connection and are susceptible to bandwidth constraints. With insufficient bandwidth, phone calls may experience latency, which can result in delays and dropped calls. Additionally, if an organization has a power or internet outage, users cannot make calls from their VoIP phones.
Telemedicine – A life Saver!
What is Telemedicine? Telemedicine uses video conferencing and other telecommunication tools to deliver healthcare at a distance. It promises patients greater convenience and time saved. For medical clinics and hospitals, it delivers time, money, and resource savings. In rural areas with fewer medical facilities, telemedicine promises better healthcare for residents.
Telemedicine provides access to healthcare information and records, enables access to specialists, improves communication between doctors and patients, and helps professionals gather and share important health data.
Technology supports telemedicine
A number of technologies make telemedicine a practical reality. Video conferencing plays a key role, together with secure, low-cost mobile communications that support real-time collaboration through tablets and smartphones.
Video conferencing is available on mobile devices with a high-speed Internet connection and softphone, a software application. Because video conferencing reach any location with Internet access, a mobile collaboration between doctors and colleagues or doctors and patients can occur inside hospitals, medical centers, and anywhere in the country, even remote rural areas.
Healthcare professionals transmit data such as electronic records and other documentation securely. In addition to real-time video collaboration, doctors use recorded video content to support patient education, aftercare, and wellness programs in the community
Improving collaboration within hospitals
In hospitals, doctors and nurses frequently move between wards, visiting patients. To seek advice or collaborate with specialists, they connect and share patient information via the hospital’s internal wireless networks using smartphones or tablets.
Increasing access to specialists
To see and assess a patient over live video within minutes of arrival at the hospital. The faster a patient receives stroke treatment, the better chances they will recover without permanent disability. Video collaboration is accelerating ‘door to needle’ treatment by minutes, sometimes even hours, time-saving that could change a person’s life forever.
Changing the pattern of patient visits
As an alternative to a home visit, doctors may video or Web conference with patients with less mobile or medically unable to visit a health center. Doctors discuss the patient’s condition and recommend medication or treatment.
Remote monitoring systems grant access to critical patient data, like those with heart conditions or diabetes. This reduces home visits for routine assessments and provides timely alerts of changes in patients’ conditions that may require urgent attention.
Reducing hospital readmissions
Many hospitals find that readmissions put further pressure on their already limited resources. Although patients receive aftercare instructions before being discharged, when problems occur, patients are readmitted for further treatment or support. There are five areas that frequently lead to hospital readmissions:
- Hospitals creation and implementation of effective discharge plans.
- Patient non-compliance with medication and care instructions.
- Compromised follow-up care due to poor collaboration.
- Family caregivers not connected or informed to assist with care.
- Patient condition deteriorates and necessary care not accessed.
Video collaboration and content management solutions help hospitals to deal with these challenges.
To improve patient discharge plans, hospitals can offer live, collaborative video at the time of discharge. A live conversation ensures patients, caregivers, and family members participate in the creation of a discharge plan and fully understand what action to take as the patient returns home.
Hospitals may also create a video recording explaining the discharge plan for the patient and family. The information explains what to expect in a normal recovery, compared to symptoms that represent a risk to the patient.
If patients forget the care instructions or have difficulty with their medication, the hospital sends reminders via real-time video collaboration or a pre-recorded video library. This makes reviewing patient care easy.
As part of the recovery process, patients and caregivers benefit from the support of their assigned healthcare providers. They can have virtual access to their primary care physician, case manager, or other professionals via live video. These video follow-ups help long-term patients benefit from feeling connected to their continued care.
Video collaboration assists the patients’ family who may live outside the area but want to participate in the care process. Family members can participate in video calls to create home care plans, learn to recognize risks, and assist with communication.
If a long-term patient’s condition changes or deteriorates, video collaboration enables access to their care team without resorting to readmission. Real-time video interaction helps case managers, nutritionists, physical therapists, primary care physicians, and others adapt treatment plans as changes occur in health and behavior.
Improving access to rural healthcare
In remote areas with limited medical resources, telemedicine provides local doctors a higher standard of care for their patients. Besides the opportunity for virtual home visits, telemedicine gives local professionals access to specialists anywhere in the country.
Local doctors gain insight into cases and procedures beyond their own experience or skills. It assists the diagnosis of complex cases, even allowing surgeons to conduct complex procedures with live video under the direction of a remote expert.
Supporting preventative care in the community
Telemedicine is playing an important role in preventative medicine. As part of the National Prevention Strategy, video conferencing enables hospitals, clinics, health departments, community health centers, community colleges, and facilities like rehab centers and skilled nursing facilities to collaborate and provide community-based services that contribute to the health and wellness of the public.
In smoking cessation programs or alcohol and drug abuse prevention, community teams utilize pre-recorded educational content or hold live interactive video sessions. They hear from experts in the field and discuss issues with doctors and nurses as well as peers in the community who struggle with similar problems.
Despite the promise and recent accomplishments of telemedicine, barriers to its wider adoption remain. A study by The Economist Intelligence Unit found 49 percent of respondents believe patients would be concerned about the risk of data breaches.
Although video collaboration is capable of providing benefits throughout the healthcare industry, professionals must be aware of privacy issues. Any organization providing doctors, nurses, and other workers with remote access to patient data must ensure the security of data transmitted by video or other communication channels.
Some insurers refuse to support telemedicine due to increased costs for fewer perceived health benefits. And, State medical boards impose differing telemedicine laws and restrictions on doctors. Procedures for telemedical treatment are not standardized across State lines.
Looking to the future, telemedicine has the potential to transform the way doctors deliver care, promising improved treatment, and saving more than time and money
Digital Signage for effective retail marketing
Digital signage solutions are being exploited by most business owners today to give them an edge over their competitors. There are many different benefits digital signage will have on your business, which can help you become more successful within your industry. Digital Signage is made up of a variety of technologies used to replace traditional print and other media in the retail environment in a visually dynamic form..
The importance of creating customer experiences in the retail environment is well-documented and has been proven to influence consumer decision-making at the point of sale, as well as helping to enforce branding and enriching the overall shopping experience. Today, more and more retailers are beginning to recognise and reap the benefits of using digital displays and bespoke in-store music as part of their branding and customer shopping experience. It allows shoppers to visually interact with the brand’s products or promotions whilst still in the store environment, where actual purchasing decisions can be made.
Here are 4 ways in which digital signage can be used in-store for effective retail marketing:
- In-Store Digital Advertising
Advertiser driven digital signage networks allows advertisers to buy airtime in order to inform customers about their products and services and in turn drive more sales at the point of decision. The placement, size of commercial screen, type of content and other circumstances in store can vary quite a bit, but the most successful networks are always treated as any other in-store medium. That is to say, digital signage is like any other form of point-of-purchase advertising that can be bought by marketers and used to the reach customers on the sales floor.
- In-Store Digital Signage and Music
Retailers can utilise effective retail digital signage to promote their products, brands and services to their customers and also attract potential customers with strategically placed screens in storefront windows. In-store music has also added to the customers’ shopping experience and when these powerful channels are integrated, a retailer can efficiently deliver their marketing message visually and audibly to the customer right at point of purchase. The X2O Media Platform, now available in South Africa, enables users to communicate key messages in real time to target consumers via a range of digital devices– all from one solution.
- Employee Training and Skills Management
Digital Signage has been successfully used to display employee training videos, health & safety and other corporate messages before and after trading hours. Employee training can be further enhanced to include Training on Demand (TOD), which allows training videos to be played at times set by the individual store management and it allows for the videos to be paused, rewound, forwarded and stopped. TOD is a revolutionary bolt-on product that allows enables effective training of staff whilst having a huge cost savings for any distributed company.
- Touch Screen Kiosks
Self-service touch screen kiosks have been around for a long time, but as newer applications are being adopted by retailers, there has been a new resurgence of the technology. The new cutting-edge technology includes additional functionality, such as: self-service credit applications in-store, interactive product information and guided selling, wayfinding systems, product locators and price checking units, loyalty programmes and customer satisfaction.
The effect of the visually appealing display gives retailers the opportunity to improve their customers’ shopping experience, make each employee more productive, reduce the load on customer service staff and, if possible, offer a supplementary form of income
Why huddle rooms should be part of your collaboration strategy?
Huddle room video conferencing is more than setting up a webcam and speakerphone in a small room. Why huddle rooms should be part of your collaboration strategy?
For decades, collaboration technology has been limited to larger, integrated, and expensive meeting rooms. But next generation workers, and the need for companies to complete on a global basis, will drive demand for collaboration solutions throughout the organization. Workforce is embracing a new way of working where connectivity, rich media and access to content across devices and locations are a given. Modular and flexible solutions allow teams to transform their works paces. Over the next few years, advanced audio-visual and collaboration products and services will make their way into the millions of existing smaller meeting rooms (huddle rooms).
Video has only recently become a mainstream option for businesses. If your organization does not have a forward-looking video strategy, then you’re probably entrenched in legacy-based and hardware-based systems for dedicated use in a boardroom. Additionally, you’re probably thinking of video as a stand-alone application, rather than integrating it into a broader collaboration vision.
When considering today’s collaboration needs, video is far more pervasive and practical than conference room scenarios. While conference rooms are still important, huddle rooms have emerged as equally important for collaboration. Huddle rooms are typically smaller meeting spaces that suit different use cases and need to be part of your strategy, whether for video or your overall collaboration planning.
As workforce become more distributed, the need for collaboration becomes more important. Informal and ad hoc meetings are becoming more common, especially among small teams. Huddle rooms are ideal for this mode of working. To support that workflow with business-grade tools, you need to consider purpose-built video services. Video vendors are tuned into this shift in the market and now offer right-sized services for huddle room video conferencing.
There’s a big gap between costly telepresence systems for large groups and consumer-grade applications that anyone can grab from the web. Huddle rooms need to support serious collaboration — and that means having reliable connectivity, high-quality audio and video, full integration with other applications, a consistent user experience and, of course, ease of use. You can’t get that with a patchwork approach using somebody’s webcam and a noisy speakerphone, especially if two or more people are on the call.
Huddle rooms are ideal for those in-between video collaboration needs. If you’re adding huddle rooms as purpose-built collaboration spaces, you need to think strategically about the tools. Organizations have a wide range of video services to choose from based on cost and quality. You need to plan your video choices in tandem with planning for your huddle rooms. This strategic approach provides employees with a holistic service for small-scale collaboration. Once deployed, the benefits should be evident immediately.
Growing emergence of Digital Signage in Education!
The emergence of a digital and social media culture has effectively forced educational institutions to embrace digital signage- To keep-in-touch with students who are becoming dependent on next generation digital science!
As a result of this need, digital signage use across the education sector is becoming increasingly popular and currently is one of the fastest growing markets implementing digital signage networks. The digital generation is constantly barraged with digital information. Therefore, without digital signage your educational institution risks getting left behind, unable to compete in the communication stakes. In the end, you face the prospect of losing touch with an evolving audience.
Your educational institution has to embrace digital signage in order to become a modern, stimulating environment in which to learn, work and reach out to the wider community. Literally, digital signage will change the way in which your educational institution is perceived.
Digital signage cuts cutting costs
Innovative features of IP telephony that could benefit your business
We have often heard about the VOIP phone system. To be more specific it is a technology that has been around for some time, as mass market VoIP services were first launched in 2004. It allows users to make and receive free voice calls over the Internet. More recently, providers have found increasingly innovative uses for VoIP technology that are helping businesses large and small to be more efficient, streamlining workflows and saving money simultaneously. Here are a few innovative uses for VoIP that your business might be interested in:
1. Interactive voice recognition
Ever called a company and been greeted by a pre-recorded voice asking you to select the reason for your calling? “Please press 1 for…” and so on. This is an interactive menu based on a VoIP system. What’s more, as voice recognition software has developed, interactive VoIP menus have integrated this software to provide a more intuitive means for users to choose options. In the near future, software will develop to the extent that a customer will be able to explain their query as if they were talking to a human, and the VoIP-based interactive voice recognition system will work out who is the most appropriate employee to take the customer’s call.
2. Office integration
Most usefully, VoIP allows an office manager to create a linked-up network of phones that can communicate with each other and send each other information. For instance, VoIP would allow a system that shows via an online portal when any particular employee is currently on the phone. This helps their colleagues know whether a particular employee is preoccupied. More broadly, VoIP facilitates the integration of the phone system into other physical areas of the office. Need to be able to answer the door buzzer and unlock the door from your desk? A VoIP system makes it possible to talk to your visitor and let them in, all through your desktop phone handset.
3. In-call employee coaching
The fact that a VoIP phone system is entirely integrated gives rise to some especially useful features. One feature, known as ‘barge,’ allows one employee to listen in on the phone call of another employee with or without their knowledge. This is invaluable for managers looking to monitor their team and give valuable feedback based on their call performance. An equally useful feature is ‘whisper,’ which gives one employee the ability to talk to another employee during a call without the user at the other end of the line being aware. Again, this could come in handy for managers hoping to coach their team members during calls as well as before and after.
4. Call routing and forwarding
The routing and forwarding capabilities of VoIP are almost endless. A customer who calls can be directed to an interactive menu (as mentioned above), a group of phones or even a certain employee’s phone in a different office in a different state. VoIP routing and forwarding systems today are incredibly advanced, offering any degree of complexity that you require. For employees on the go, one particularly useful feature is the ability to forward a call from their desktop phone to their mobile or even their laptop.
5. Conference calls
A traditional phone line will typically only allow calls to be made between two users using two phones. VoIP technology opens up many possibilities when it comes to conference calling. At the more innovative end of the spectrum, VoIP allows video conference calling between many different users. There are even a number of VoIP services that will host these conference calls for free.Above are only five of the many things that VoIP can do. Implement VoIP in your business to find out how you can benefit from it.
Role of Video Conference in multiple fields
Video conferencing is the new voice. Irrespective of where they are physically situated, business executives, individuals, and groups usually interact with one another in real time by making use of video conferencing.
Being cost-effective and convenient, video conferencing has now been widely applied in many areas. If you aren’t already sold on the idea of using videoconferencing to supplement (not replace) face-to-face meetings, here is a neat list of the uses of video conference in different fields
- Meetings or Collaborations
Video calls assist a great deal to set up conferences, whether for business, enjoyment or training. Essential information can be talked over by managers or company heads even though they are far away from one another. Groups who would like to pre-plan a project can discuss details conveniently by applying features like screen sharing, white boarding, etc. An additional common practice to this particular procedure happens to be the student collaborations. One can effortlessly accomplish group study or student projects without voyaging or going for a drive.
- Online Teaching
Technology has aided the world of long distance learning to become an actuality. Consequently, a teacher no longer requires being in the same room as his students. For example, long distance education programs have been included by both small as well as premiere Ivy League schools such as Harvard University in the USA in their syllabus. Even though the majority of these happen to be in video course form, live web-conference courses also constitute a significant portion.
It is simple to interact with a huge number of people simultaneously by making use of video conferencing. Questions can be answered by a professional to any student from any location. Meanwhile, this approach can also be employed for teaching students in rural areas. A proper setup is only needed and a competent teacher will be capable of teaching his students by making use of the process.
- Business Administration
During the past, it was actually out of the question to manage a business on the web. However, remote workplaces and virtual staff have become a standard setup with the intro of the web. Interacting through email, chat services, which include video conferences have grown to be an important part in motivating these types of companies. It is now feasible for the employers to make contact with their freelance designers, copy writers, administrative staff along with other staff remotely. Besides bridging the gap, it likewise creates a more effective and worldwide workplace with little effort.
- Video Interviews
In the yesteryears, video interviews were not common. Nowadays, video calls or conferences are being utilized by numerous industries in an effort to reach a number of experts at once, recognize the potential workers for the organization, get in touch with correspondents and much more. Leading news networks usually link different individuals for interview by making use of meetings. At times while a correspondent is not reachable, a useful internet transmission and an internet service program which provides video conferencing might help. Each party will be benefited by the volume of cost savings which includes traveling time.Different parties can easily interact with one another simultaneously even though they may be from diverse areas. Although it was once a complicated technology, nowadays it’s feasible to effortlessly do meetings with more sophisticated phone systems and quicker net services.
- Working from Home
A lot more staff, at present, is prepared to select an innovative method of working from home. Workers will be able to make use of video conferencing to keep linked to customers or co-workers in a realistic way. It will save you considerable time invested on the way and stop you from getting worn out due to a traffic jam or a crowd in the subway. As a matter of fact, home based work will be an ideal choice in case you were an expecting mother and actually more and more people are taking advantage of tools like Skype or many other Skype alternatives for their remote work. They can easily perform a real-time Internet meeting by just quickly downloading and running it on desktop or mobile.
- Distance Diagnostics
The ability to identify a symptom or problem from afar is referred to as remote diagnostics. In health care, it is feasible for the affected person to be in the home or even overseas and the medical professional or expert could be in a different area. This tactic is also employed by the cosmonauts in the International Space Station while using cameras or remote calling for the assistance of the ground staff. Furthermore, remote diagnostics is likewise employed by business phones too, particularly those linked with PABX systems; earlier, operators used to switch calls manually, but right now it is accomplished automatically by special techniques.
- Legal Environment
Video conferencing is utilized by a lot of courtrooms as well as prestigious authorized offices for connecting with unwilling prisoners or witnesses that are struggling to appear personally to be questioned. The individual will feel like he is actually there because of the amazingly impressive actions taken by high quality video conferencing. It is sometimes far easier to have a witness or a prisoner broadcast themselves digitally as compared to having them appear face-to-face. Despite the fact that the courtrooms are the places to make use of video conferencing for this task, it can be useful to any business that requires making use of the testimony of somebody who does not wish to appear face-to-face.
Top quality video conferencing solutions are creating incredibly helpful business equipment which can be used in lots of innovative as well as interesting ways. Just like the leading businesses, this technology may be used by any organizations in the multiple field to fully make use of the enhancement in productiveness, cohesion, as well as development.
How much value Collaboration solutions add to your workplace?
Collaboration has undergone a major change since it moved out of the boardroom. It’s more democratic, available and affordable for every employee. It’s accessible from any location on any desktop or mobile device. And, it’s becoming an integral part of the workplace of the future.
Collaboration is successful when employees throughout the organization are able to easily interact, participate in projects, share ideas, and provide feedback to colleagues. To support this, they need easy-to-use channels of communication and a quality experience when they collaborate. That helps build a collaborative environment by engaging people and showing how collaboration can transform working practices.
While solutions like VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) offer many important collaboration features and services, it’s important to focus on how those features help employees to do their work more efficiently.
Recent findings from Avaya, including the Team Engagement Solution Survey, offer some useful insights. The survey helps to identify how much value collaboration solutions add and where they need to change.
Email lives on
One question produced surprising results. When businesses were asked which collaboration solution was most important for enabling employees to get work done, email topped the list at 91 percent.
Office suites at 47 percent were ahead of web conferencing at 38 percent and instant messaging at 35 percent. Respondents also ranked email as the top solution for ease of use at 83 percent with instant messaging not too far behind at 67 percent.
Although email is frequently written off as a solution of the past, the survey indicates that it remains an important part of the collaboration process.
Integration is essential
There was a strong indication from businesses that integration of communication and collaboration tools is important. In fact, 90 percent agreed it was important.
When asked about the importance of integrating collaboration tools with business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, 78 percent of respondents were in favor.
However, opinion was divided over whether different types of collaboration tool work well together. For example, 51 percent of respondents felt that instant messaging and web conferencing were well integrated, while 49 percent felt they didn’t work together.
Collaboration solutions need more
The survey also asked businesses about their “wish lists” for collaboration. The most popular “must have” was a feature that supports screen sharing. That resonated with 95 percent of respondents.
Close behind with 92 percent was a solution that allows users to schedule meetings from their calendar apps. Integration with productivity tools like Microsoft Office or Google Docs was popular with 77 percent of respondents.
User experience improves ROI
The emphasis on driving team engagement through the right collaboration tools has a positive impact on ROI, according to Avaya. 52 percent of engaged employees say that work brings out their most creative ideas, helping to increase innovation and drive future growth.
The most-engaged workplaces experience 18 percent higher productivity and 12 percent higher profitability. Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave, reducing recruitment costs and retaining skills and knowledge.
What will video and team collaboration look like in the next three years?
Could there be a solution like the IP-PBX systems versus UCaaS option, where companies can access a comfortable “hybrid” zone that will reduce the financial impact of transformation? Or, are we simply going to have to make do with what we’re given?
- BYOC – Bring your own codec is on the rise
- Huddle Room technology is on the rise
- Deployments are moving to the cloud
- Traditional hardware based room systems will decline
- 1/3 of knowledge workers are now millennials
- Teams are the knowledge workers of tomorrow
The Evolution of Video Conferencing Technology
The Video conferencing market over the next three years is going to see some big changes. Whilst video conferencing revenues are flat, if not in decline amongst the big vendors, video calls are still experiencing exponential growth.
Mobile video is also growing rapidly, mostly originating from the cloud. Apps like Microsoft Skype for Business leading the way in the corporate world. It seems that it’s less about the hardware you need in business but more about the software based apps, at least for peer to peer video calls (one to one). However, hardware by no means is dead, it’s just going to look a little different going forward.
The commoditisation of VCaaS appears to be an inevitable part of video’s future. That’s why the company put together their own SMB bundles for customers who wanted to purchase simple Gateway services, “off the peg”. Today, customers can buy solutions straight from eCommerce website in a self-service solution.
Introducing the Huddle Room Boom
One of the key questions that companies are asking today is: “What will enterprise visual collaboration tools and solutions look like in the future?” Video technology is getting better; DSPs are cheaper and far more flexible and capable, offering more features than ever before. Huddle rooms are the new conference room. Less about traditional conferencing, more about collaboration That’s why Microsoft are investing heavily Skype Room systems, Cisco with the Spark Board and Google with the Jam Board.
Today’s VARs have an unparalleled opportunity to monetize these solutions by selling hardware alongside VC platforms. In other words, VARs can give their customers a bundled package of everything that they need for excellent collaboration. As solutions continue to evolve in the communication and collaboration space, opportunities simply keep getting better.
The Rise of Bring your Own Codec (BYOC)
The migration to cloud based meetings isn’t going to be straight forward for a lot of enterprises. How do your users connect their shiny new Skype for Business app to your largest customer’s ISDN based Polycom conferencing system? How do you host a virtual meeting room (VMR) for 20 people and not have to worry what equipment or software they are using?
Introducing the solution to ‘BYOC’. If you want to be able to offer a flexible cloud based video conferencing system for your business then you’ll need a cloud based video gateway service. Many companies have developed a cloud hosted codec converter for connecting virtually any video codec together e.g. ISDN, SIP, WebRTC, etc. Not only does this allow virtually any company to connect in with their choice of meeting room system, it also allows users on mobiles or laptops to connect up with their choice of app.
Migrating into the Future
Taking the step into the collaboration and conferencing networks of the future might not be as simple as most companies would hope. Cloud solutions are incredibly attractive because they allow people to mix and match services as they need them. When it comes to interoperability, people need to be able to join or create mixed protocol video conferencing calls without the expense of managing an infrastructure.
The cloud, and related solutions, allows businesses to use systems like Microsoft Skype for Business to create video calls without the hassle. Using a cloud provider means minimising the amount of work a business has to do to stay ahead of the industry curve. In cloud environments, it’s the provider that needs to stay up-to-date, not the customer. This makes the disruption of forklift upgrades more unlikely.