The Keys to Successful Video Conferencing

By Chris Böttger, Senior Vice President, Collaboration Services

Whether you are looking to invest in a video conferencing solution or want to know how to get the most out of your current system, you need to know some of the key components that make video conferencing calls successful every time.

Determining Business Needs

The first challenge is to understand your business’ needs. Your goal may be to reduce costs, improve productivity, run a training program, or implement a distance learning program. Once you determine the particular application, you are ready to select and implement your system.

Ensuring Executive Buy-in

You will need top management’s commitment in order to implement real changes in your organization. The executive team should deliver the message that video can increase productivity, enhance collaboration, reduce business travel, and decrease your company’s carbon footprint. Very few video conferencing deployments have been successful without executive buy-in.

Establishing a Single Process

One of the mistakes organizations often make is using a system of ad hoc dialing; users simply pick up the remote and the video meeting begins. That works when the system belongs to the individual and it is a personal or a desktop solution. However, people usually do not wish to touch any remote controls! A single process means the video call is connected the same way each time – regardless of the type of meeting. Whether it is a point-to-point call or a multi-point call with more than two sites, the process should be the same.

Don’t Do It All Yourself!

You don’t have to purchase your own hardware or hire your own staff to run successful video meetings. Most organizations do not have this expertise as their core competency, which is why many companies choose to outsource this responsibility.

Managing the Environment

Companies tend to make the most mistakes by not appropriately managing their video conferencing environment. This means they are not managing the users, the rooms, the end points, the network, or the video infrastructure.

If your video systems are in meeting rooms, those are often scheduled resources. For these calls to be successful you will need to:

  • Manage the user – This is best achieved with a web scheduling tool so that video conferencing is fully automated and made simple.
  • Manage the room – Whether it’s a simple room for two people or a big auditorium, you need the right room with audio visual equipment that corresponds with the room’s size. A small room requires a small system, and a large board room may require a fully integrated AV solution. Or, if you want a multi-purpose room to also show DVDs and presentations, you may need a multi-purpose system to effectively manage that room.
  • Manage the endpoints – To ensure the system is working when you need it to, you need an advanced video management system to watch your solution 24/7. This system should provide proactive monitoring of the endpoints and fully automatic point-to-point or multipoint call launching.
  • Manage the networks – Video conferencing is unique because it is bi-directional and real-time. It doesn’t function well with networks that suffer from packet loss or jitter. If you are running at standard definition, you may be able to get away with limited control of the network. However, now more companies are choosing high-definition video conferencing, and the network piece is becoming even more important. If the network isn’t designed and architected to run scalable, reliable, and secure video conferencing then you may face performance issues.
  • Manage the infrastructure – The following comprises the video infrastructure; gatekeepers, gateways, video bridges, firewall traversal systems, video management systems, and video scheduling systems. The mistakes companies often make is not managing all of these components – only some – and the end result is that their meetings aren’t successful. For example, many organizations say “We have a great network and that’s all that we need,” and they buy endpoints. But the video system is not often used, so they do not show return on their investment. Typically this is because the other components that are key to running successful video meetings have not been addressed.

IVCi’s Managed Video Experience™ (MVE)

IVCi’s Managed Video Experience (MVE) represents the next generation of Managed Conferencing Services.

MCS comprises experienced and highly trained personnel. Multipoint and gateway calling is included if your company does not have that capability, and there is also the option of using the world’s best global IP video network which is specifically designed for video conferencing.

Who should use MVE?

You don’t have to become a video conferencing company to have successful calls! IVCi’s MVE is for customers who want to use video conferencing without becoming a video conferencing company themselves.

Compare the management of video conferencing to your cell phone. Your cell phone has many of the same components as a video conferencing system; a gatekeeper to register the cell phone, the gateways (Verizon and Cingular are completely incompatible, however the service provider corrects that through the gateways), and the capability of multipoint calls (a function of the service itself). However, you don’t purchase all of these components when you walk into a Cingular or Verizon store – you most likely go there for the service.

Think of your cell phone as the same as video conferencing; you buy the endpoint and everything else is managed by your service provider.

How does IVCi’s MVE work?

MVE is a fully automated system. You walk into the room and the calls are automatically launched, whether they are point-to-point or multipoint. Just like any other type of meeting, you will know exactly who you are going to meet, where, and what time.

The user does not have to try to figure out how to use complex technology; they can simply start the meeting. There is no need to know aliases, IP addresses, DNS addresses, email addresses, or any of the ways you would physically dial a call if you were to do it yourself. You can schedule a meeting and report to the conference room – it is really that simple.

IVCi’s MVE also provides total end-to-end accountability. This is very important for many organizations, and removes any of the back and forth that might occur with a network provider.

Customer Examples

Companies of all sizes use our managed conferencing services. For example, we provide remote management for a global beverage company which covers over 86 countries. The usage to date has increased over 550% since we started managing their environment. Also, we provide the service to the largest healthcare insurance company, and have driven reliability to over 99.7%.

Another managed service customer is a major U.S. cell phone provider; they know how to build cell phone networks, but they are not necessarily as adept at making video conferencing work. In this case, they have their own bridges, but are using our network and remote management services to deliver video conferencing services to their users.

The IVCi Difference

IVCi is unique because we are an integrator of video conferencing, audio visual, and managed conferencing services. IVCi specializes in top-of-the-line conference rooms that are equipped with complex technology, but that are designed to be easy to use and to manage.

We also provide collaboration tools such as audio conferencing and web conferencing. We provide installation, maintenance, support, and consulting services. Many organizations use our consultants to help them plan how to manage their collaboration needs, network requirements, and hosting services. The end result is an easy to use conferencing solution that is complete end-to-end.

Our factory-trained sales and technical staff install and support managed conferencing services across the country and around the world. IVCi provides clients with one point of contact for video conferencing sales, installation, service, management and support.