Why Should You Hire An AV Expert?

When designing a new collaborative workspace (whether it be a complicated conference room or a small huddle room), there are a lot of considerations to take into account. These can range from the acoustics of the room, the current lighting as well as considerations around what control system to leverage, what display brand, and how to program all of the devices to work seamlessly together.

Many organizations choose to “go it alone” when it comes to their AV setups. This might involve internal team members designing rooms and doing the install work. It may also include getting programmers up to speed on control system programming. Whatever the area, it can be quite a challenge to build an internal AV operation from the ground up.

There are significant advantages to bringing in AV experts from external sources, the largest being expertise and training. The AV world is full of amazing technology but there is a significant amount of expertise needed to truly understand how to design and implement it. Additionally, there are considerations for the environment itself. Certifications can provide some of the best guidance when evaluating a potential AV vendor for your organization.

Here is a peek into some of the key training and certifications to look for in an AV expert.

InfoComm CTS
InfoComm is a large trade association that represents the interests of AV professional s and customers throughout the world. Their Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification is highly respected and a great indicator of people and organizations that meet industry standards for AV. You should expect nothing less than CTS from the sales, consulting and implementation teams involved in your project. Even better are the CTS-D and CTS-I. CTS-D is “an AV systems designer who assesses client’s needs, designs AV systems, prepares AV design documents, and coordinates and collaborates with other professionals to create AV systems that satisfy clients’ requirements.” This is critical for anyone who will be advising on the design of an AV environment. CTS-I is an install specialization that is equally important. To learn more about the CTS certification, visit http://www.infocomm.org/cps/rde/xchg/infocomm/hs.xsl/certification.htm.

LEED Professional Credentials
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) credentials can certify both people and projects as adhering to the highest levels of green building expertise. Green building involves energy conversation, reducing water consumption, making the best materials choices and more. This can help save money as well as lower the environmental impact of a building/project. Additionally, there are tax credits and incentives that can accompany these certifications. To learn more about LEED, visit http://www.usgbc.org/home.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a globally recognized as the leading certification for project managers. Project Managers with this certification use a proven methodology for managing projects that helps to ensure are completed on time and within budget. To learn more about PMP, visit http://www.pmi.org/en/Certification/Project-Management-Professional-PMP.aspx.

Control System design and programming is a significant part of many AV projects. It is important to ensure that the team you are working with is certified in the platform they are providing. If that system is from Crestron, look for DMC-D, T and/or E certifications. These represent the highest level of knowledge around Control System Design, Engineering, and Installation. To learn more about DMC, visit http://www.crestron.com/products/digitalmedia_analog_digital_audio_video_av_distribution_4k/certification.asp.

These certifications represent many of the most important that you should seek when evaluating AV professionals. In most cases you will not find every certification but use this list as a guide to ensure that the vendor you use is focused on training and providing the highest quality product possible.

How Important Is Your Body Language On A Video Call?

Communication goes much farther than just speaking and words. Body language has always been important in business when trying to establish credibility and convey the right message. On average, you only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression and create initial trust. Although many people pay attention to body language when speaking to someone in-person, they often forget how important these non-verbal cues are when using video conferencing. Body language & other non-verbal cues can have a dynamic impact on the message being conveyed, and it is very important that your body language reinforces your message as opposed to taking away from it when conducting conversations via video.

Here are some important tips for improving your body language on your next video conferencing call.

Look in to the camera.
Make sure you are looking at the lens or right below it in order to mimic “eye contact”. Maintaining eye contact is very important for holding someone’s attention and showing interest, sincerity and confidence during a conversation. When you are not in the same room with someone, it is much easier to get distracted and look away. Therefore, to ensure that you are maintaining engagement and  eye contact, shut down any other programs on your computer and ensure you are in a place with as few distractions as possible.

Back up a little
You do not want to be just a talking head. Displaying hand gestures and movement is an important aspect of non-verbal communication. Prior to your next video call, turn on the “self-view” mode to double check that you are situated appropriately in front of the camera and are not too close or far away. Open hands and hand movement shows interest in a conversation so allowing for your hands to be seen is also important in order to simulate the feeling of an in-person conversation.

Keep good posture
Maintain good posture just as you would if in an in-person meeting. Likewise, leaning forward slightly helps to convey interest and engagement. People often lean back during video calls if they are comfortable which can portray dis-engagement and a lack of interest. Maintaining an upright posture and limiting your head movements helps you to stay in the camera view appropriately and demonstrates that you are alert and focused on the conversation at hand.

Be careful of facial gestures
Smiling when you speak can not only help individuals focus on you and the message you are trying to convey, but it also helps project friendliness and acceptance. On the other hand, a furrowed brow can portray disagreement, tension, and can create an uncomfortable environment for others. One the considerable benefits of video conferencing as opposed to audio calls is this ability to examine facial expressions. Therefore, you need to make sure you are sending the correct message to them. An effective way to ensure you are monitoring these expressions is to again turn on the “self view” setting on your camera so that you can take a look at yourself from time to time and make sure you are not accidentally making unfavorable gestures.

Meet the New IVCi.com

For the last year we have been working around the clock with the amazing Ranx Media to re-create our website site from the ground up. It was a major undertaking but we couldn’t be any prouder of the end product. So without further ado….Welcome to the new IVCi!!

We have redesigned our layout with style, ease of use and content delivery in mind. However, the re-build went deeper than that. We have created a site that is focused on being a resource and a guide for people exploring or learning about collaboration technology.

Besides the pretty new layout, here are some of the changes that we are particularly proud of:

Often when people are exploring a technology, they are unfamiliar with specific terms and topics. Therefore, a very important aspect of IVCi’s new site is the glossary. We have compiled a list of frequently used terms and definitions to help new and existing technology users to understand the key terms they may hear when discussing these technologies.

More informational content:
IVCi’s new site features a bunch of new content, inspired by our experience and created with education in mind. This content includes, how-to guides, white papers, data sheets, brochures, webinar recordings and an integrated blog that is focused on news, commentary, and insight around collaboration.

Categorical Improvements:
We have created the “Solutions” section on the site that is built with an emphasis on ease of navigation to help people find the information that they care about based on vertical and role.

Mobile friendly/Responsive design:
With this re-launch, IVCi’s new site is fully responsive. We know that many people are using their mobile devices and tablets more than ever, so it was very important for us to build a mobile friendly site.

We are very proud of this new site and we hope you take some time to look around. We can’t wait to hear what you think about it so please feel free to comment with any feedback you may have!

This Week in Collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration. 

Seven tips for improving your remote meetings
The way teams work and collaborate is changing. Consulting, remote workforces and outsourcing are all on the rise. Even if you operate a team that is technically based in the same physical office, it’s becoming more and more common that your clients prefer to communicate in a virtual manner instead of in person due to time constraints. This article includes seven strategies and techniques that will make your next virtual meeting just as effective as its in-person counterpart.

How Video Conferencing is More Effective Than Shooting Business E-Mails
Talking to a co-worker or employee face-to-face is easy when you are all in the same building. However, when team members work remotely, it can be really difficult to create face-to-face meetings, so they often rely upon emailing and telephone calls. With video conferencing programs, you can virtually engage face-to-face with your team members to boost the productivity and efficiently of the team. You can even do so using your mobile phone while on the go.

What’s the future of healthcare? It’s collaboration
In the United States, healthcare providers are teaming up to provide coordinated and seamless patient care which reduces medical errors, and improves healthcare quality while lowering costs by avoiding unnecessary duplication of services. How can accountable organizations succeed both in delivering high-quality care and spending healthcare dollars more wisely, so that they can share in the savings they achieve for the Medicare program?

There’s still a security disconnect on BYOD
Corporate employees — and to a lesser extent IT managers — are taking a surprisingly lax approach towards security issues raised by the business use of personally owned smartphones and other mobiles devices, according to two surveys. Enterprise users were found to be deeply suspicious of any IT effort to implement security controls on their devices. In fact, many said they would choose not to bring personal devices to the workplace if employers planned to install security software on them.

Eight Classic Big Data Mistakes
Demand for big data analytics will only continue to soar as the overall market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27% through 2017, amounting to a $32.4 billion market, according to industry research. Yet, with all of the investments into analytics tools and talent, CIOs and other IT leaders can lose sight of what they’re ultimately seeking to do. Collecting lots of big data, after all, doesn’t amount to much if teams don’t know how to effectively mine and translate it.

Office Design Tips: Supporting Different Work Modes

In today’s fast-paced world with many different types of employees, an evolving work environment, and consistently increased demands, it is important to design an office that can maximize productivity and effectiveness. Creatively designed office spaces are able to provide the right environment that today’s employee’s need. For that to be accomplished office design should be centered around 3 important modes of work; collaboration, focus, and comfort. With these in mind, designers should create a space that caters to those needs and also allows employees to easily alternate between these work modes throughout the day.

We have included some specific aspects of office design that will help create a space that fosters collaboration, allows “head down” focus time, and cultivates a positive work environment.

There are a few design aspects and technology tools that can assist with fostering collaboration in a workplace. To start, many offices will design their space with an open floor plan. This normally means fewer walls and barriers to help facilitate impromptu conversations and interactions. Along with an open floor plan, it is also important to include plenty of common areas around the office. The goal with these being to give people a chance to leave their desks and work from other locales and to encourage interaction between employees.

Along with the ability to have spontaneous conversations, it is also important to include spaces where employees can have more structured meetings. Conference rooms and smaller huddle room spaces help to accomplish this type of collaboration. In addition, creating conference rooms that are video conferencing enabled, allows for employees to collaborate comfortably and conveniently with other employees or outside individuals, regardless of their location. The use of smart boards or other interactive whiteboards can also help foster collaboration by allowing people to brainstorm ideas and projects and then save or share the information instantly with anyone.

Although collaboration is a very important aspect of any office environment, sometimes people need a space with fewer interruptions. Therefore, having “closed” spaces that employees can use to reduce distractions is very important. Offering these huddle rooms and other private spaces that allow people to get away and focus are very important in order to create a good balance in an open floor plan environment.

Companies can also use certain types of flooring and wall coverings to reduce ambient noise.  Similarly, some companies will offer noise-cancelling headphones that employees can use when they need to focus without the interruption of background noise.

Since most people spend the majority of their time at work, designing an open, friendly and comfortable office space not only helps improve collaboration but can also enhance creativity, improve employee morale and assist with recruiting great talent. In order to create this type of space, a company should consider aesthetics such as decoration and color palette, as well as availability of technology tools and layout of the space.

The aesthetics of the office space should reflect a company’s brand, culture, and personality. This could range from the overall color palette to the addition of games, trendy furniture and unique wall décor. When it comes to technology, equipping employees with the correct tools can drastically increase productivity. Likewise, providing up-to-date tools can help to attract the top talent. These tools can include software programs, a strong network, video conferencing equipment and the latest computers, tablets and mobile phones. An office layout needs to reflect the company’s work style and their employee’s unique needs. This should include aspects that cater to the multiple work modes that employees participate in every day.

When beginning an office design, it is very important for any organizations to analyze the different work modes and articulate what is important to the company in order to build the best space for their requirements. Implementing the right office environment can lead to effective collaboration, more creative ideas, and a more successful business.

INFOGRAPHIC: 5 Reasons People Are Scared Of Video Conferencing

I can remember the first time that I used video conferencing and it was a nerve wracking experience. I was concerned about quite a few things including how to use the technology, what I looked like on camera, how I sounded, and if I was looking at the right place. However, after using video a few times I quickly became comfortable with communicating over video and realized how productive and effective video meetings were.

This resistance to new technology is very common among people, often due to fear of the unknown. However, when it comes to video conferencing this resistance appears to be deeper than just anxiety about new technology. These concerns range from typical technological concerns but also include psychological reasons. With video conferencing becoming increasingly more pervasive as a way to communicate and collaborate, it is important to understand what people fear about video and how to alleviate these worries.

Check out our infographic to learn more!


How To Use Visual Collaboration Throughout The Buying Cycle

Dynamic changes in technology and the immense amount of information online has shifted control of the buying cycle from the vendor to the customer. Due to this change, marketers and sales people must take responsibility for engaging customers throughout the entire buyers journey.

From initial outreach to close, it is important to gain awareness, prove value, and have relevant conversations with prospects. This can help to accelerate the buying process, create trust, and uncover new or other business opportunities. Using visual collaboration solutions to communicate with prospects and customers gives organizations the ability to create value and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Check out our infographic to see how visual collaboration tools can be used throughout the different stages of the buying cycle.



This Week in Collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

Navigating the New Terrain

The Unified Communications industry is changing rapidly. Jim Burton, Founder and CEO, CT LLC and Co-Founder UCStrategies offers up some advice to enterprise customers, vendors, channel partners and consultants. Areas of focus include big data and how vendors will work or compete with Microsoft.

Blue skies: The future of collaboration

Despite a flurry of new technology releases over the last twenty years, many organizations have seen their collaboration technology investment fail to live up to expectations. Most technologies are disparate and expensive to deploy & maintain. The introduction of software APIs to many of these solutions may finally provide the promise of collaboration. WebRTC, for example, allows organizations to extend their investment to any one with a simple web browser.

Make Meetings Meaningful

Effective meetings are critical to the success of any organization, especially SMBs. They allow for improved communication and can allow a group of people to solve business challenges together. However, making those meetings effective can be challenging. Three areas to focus on include ensuring face to face communication whenever possible (live or video conferencing), being mindful of the time of day a meeting is to start (do not hold important meetings early), and keep meetings short and succinct.

Virtual house calls may help rural dementia patients and caregivers

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on nursing homes and other elder care facilities. These investments fail to take into account potential in-home solutions. “Tele-gerontology” has the potential to reduce the elder population’s reliance on these facilities while providing instant advice and council from the comfort of home.

5 Reasons To Implement A Telework Policy

With the advancement of technology and the many collaboration tools on the market today, people really can work from anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Due to these advancements and the potential benefits of telecommuting, many organizations are looking at implementing telework policies for their employees.

Here are some of the reasons that companies should look in to implementing telework programs:

  1. Recruit the best employees, regardless of their location:
    Every organization is looking for the best and brightest candidates to bring to their team. Allowing employees to work remotely helps widen the talent pool and find great employees regardless of where they are located. In a survey conducted by WorldatWork it was reported that 80% of employees say that they would like to work from home given the opportunity and 1/3 would take the ability to telecommute over a pay raise.
  1. Improve employee work-life balance, and increase employee retention:
    With company culture and the desire for a work-life balance being very important to employees these days, the option for telecommuting can offer those benefits. Allowing employees the flexibility of working remotely can help to build an employee-respected company culture that promotes a good work-life balance. Likewise, there are strong positive links between telecommuting and job satisfaction. Since many employees look at a telecommuting policy as a job perk, this flexibility will give your employees another reason to stick around and reduce expensive employee turnover.
  1. Reduce your organization’s carbon footprint:
    Telecommuting is a great way to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint and promote environmentally friendly activities. The fewer employees that come in to an office reduces the amount of commuters, therefore reducing the number of cars on the road. According to the SMART 2020 report, by combining a telework policy with the use of video conferencing to reduce the need for travel, companies have the ability to reduce emissions by up to 260m tonnes by 2020.
  1. Boost productivity:
    By giving employees tools that they can use to work while commuting, out of town, or working from home, increases efficiency and productivity. Working from home can also reduce time lost by office chatter, coffee breaks, long lunches, and other random meetings. A study done by IBM showed that employees who worked remotely could be up to 50% more productive. Absenteeism is also reduced due to remote employees being exposed to fewer sick co-workers and often continuing to work when sick if they are working from home.
  1. Lower facility costs:
    When implementing a telework policy and allowing employees to come in to an office on an on-needed basis, organizations can often downsize the office space that they need. This also allows for reduced expenses on utilities, janitorial service, security and maintenance. Based on information from Telework Research Network, around 40% of Americans have the ability to work remotely, and if each of these employees worked from home half the time, companies could potentially save $10,000 per employee per year.

My Aha! Telemedicine Moment

Have you ever had a moment that made you say “WOW”? Like many of you, I live and breathe technology. I read tech blogs, work in the tech industry, and am a self-proclaimed gadget junkie. Consequently, I am always looking for the latest and greatest app, program, or tool. So when I was battling a sinus infection about a month ago, I decided to try out a new telemedicine app that I had read about. The combination of my busy week, miserable sinus headache, primary physician who was booked out for a week, and a desire to avoid an urgent care facility during flu season, I decided to give the app a try.

The app, Doctor On Demand, allows you to connect over video or audio-only and speak directly to a physician. They are able to answer and assist with non-medical emergencies, short-term prescriptions, and referrals to specialists. There is no need for insurance and it is a flat fee for each consultation.

Slightly hesitant about how well this would work but feeling desperate to annihilate this sinus monster that had invaded my head, I downloaded the app. My first impression was how sleek and aesthetically pleasing the app looked (I can’t help myself, along with technology, I live and breathe marketing). Once downloaded, I was able to quickly fill out some general information about myself and  how I would like to pay for my consultation. From there, I was brought to a screen where I could enter my symptoms as well as any medications or medication allergies I had. Once I listed my symptoms I was asked if I wanted to connect to a doctor. Given their name and some information, I was quickly connected via video conferencing to our consultation. I explained my symptoms and that I had chronic sinus infections. He asked me a few questions and if there were any specific medications that I normally take for treating this. Once my preferred antibiotic was determined, the doctor asked me if there was a specific pharmacy that I would like to have my prescription called in to. The pharmacy location was then set and he informed me that it would be called in right away. The entire consultation took less than 10 minutes and I was able to pick my prescription up within 30 minutes of my call. After concluding the session, I received an email receipt for the call as well as an email confirming that my prescription request had been sent in to my preferred pharmacy.

With physicians continuing to be over-scheduled, and a society of people who are extremely busy, this app makes a Dr. visit easy and accessible from wherever you are at any time. I was very impressed by the whole process. This was a great example of how effective telemedicine can be and I highly recommend giving it a try.