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.


This Week In Collaboration

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

How video conferencing in the cloud can transform business collaboration
As confidence to deliver services and applications in the cloud gathers pace, video conferencing as a service (VCaaS) is starting to evolve. With the benefits of video conferencing clear to businesses – including a reduction in travel time, improved workforce productivity, better global links and accessibility – the infrastructure cost and maintenance aspect is still a sticking point for many, making it an unviable option. But with the rise of VCaaS and video delivered via the cloud, companies can now take better advantage of video to transform their business without the high price tag.

The Top 5 Things Audio Visual Integrators Should Look for at InfoComm 2014
InfoComm is quickly approaching and with that it is worth noting how this show has changed over the years as video has evolved from being a standalone application on a dedicated network. Now there’s a greater focus on networking, unified communications, voice and other things that have become core to the video business. Some ideas of what AVIs should be looking out for at this year’s conference are: The convergence of voice, video and content, different mediums to unify content, architectural aspects of building a room, how to move content to people, and vertical use cases.

Video Meeting Rooms for Everyone?
Software-based video bridges (multipoint control units, or MCUs) have been around for a long time, but virtualized video bridges are a relatively new phenomenon. With a virtual video bridge, organizations or service providers can instantly increase capacity simply by spinning up a few virtual instances on standard hardware they already own, or through an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider.

The next big healthcare game changer is happening now
Although pundits have been touting Telehealth as the “next big thing” in healthcare for decades, there are several factors contributing to the fulfillment of this prediction, ranging from healthcare reform to ubiquitous access to Internet bandwidth and advances in remote visual communication. At a very pragmatic level, there are a growing number of instances where telemedicine carts were used by remote medical specialists to provide life-saving instructions to healthcare staff members. Healthcare IT providers who can align Telehealth technology with their organization’s business needs will realize tangible competitive advantages as well as the rewards that come from seeing technology’s potential in serving a greater good.

With New Mobility Trends and Ventures, European Officials Struggle to Balance Innovation and Regulation
At the second World Collaborative Mobility Congress (Wocomoco), held May 7-8 in Bern, Switzerland, entrepreneurs and policymakers discussed over the two days their experiences and identified challenges ahead in reshaping mobility. Entrepreneurs are missing clear frameworks on the political side, while policymakers are calling on companies to better coordinate and collaborate with the public sector. With citizens becoming ever more mobile and a trend toward urbanization, especially in developing countries, policymakers face tough times in managing a rapidly declining resource: space.

Why Startups Should Be Using Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has definitely changed the way that companies do business. Today, startups and smaller companies with only a couple locations can operate like a much larger organization by using visual collaboration tools. Video conferencing has removed previous communication barriers and allows teams to stay connected regardless of where they are and in a more personal way than basic audio calls.

Here are a few more ways that startups can benefit from using video conferencing:

Decreased Travel Costs:
One of the most common advantages of video conferencing is reduced travel time and costs. As a start-up, there is often the challenge of lean funding accompanied by the need to travel in order to create a local presence in different markets. Video conferencing allows you to create that face-to-face experience without the constant travel expenses and loss of valuable time.

Wider Talent Pool:
When building a team, start-ups need to create a wide talent pool in order to recruit the best talent. Often the most talented job candidates live outside of the area of the company’s city or state. Using videoconferencing can bring individuals in from any location for a face-to-face conversation. Organizations will often use video conferencing for initial interviews in order to narrow down the recruiting pool without the travel expenses accrued by bringing all of them in to the office.

Better Team Productivity:
Start-ups are often extremely fast paced environments with many tasks going on at the same time. Visual collaboration tools can be used to connect with employees, vendors, buyers, and partners in the most efficient way. Decisions can be made faster and companies can improve operational efficiency by connecting with individuals and companies from anywhere in the world. This ability to collaborate quickly and effectively can also boost camaraderie and communication between employees.

Video conferencing is continuing to be a method that is changing the face of business and can undoubtedly help to level the playing field for start-ups by allowing global communication and presence in the same way larger organizations operate. It can also help to effectively manage remote teams while maintaining strong communication and productive collaboration.

This Week In Collaboration

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

Video conferencing in the cloud takes business collaboration to new heights.
As confidence to deliver services and applications in the cloud gathers pace, Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS) is starting to evolve. According to recent research from Wainhouse Research, the number of solutions available in this space has grown drastically, with many based on technology platforms that were not available until 2013. With the rise of VCaaS and video delivered via the cloud, businesses can now take better advantage of video to transform their business without the high price tag.

Show and Tell: Why Mobile Video Conferencing Matters
Video is everywhere right now, and that trend isn’t going to change any time soon. The simultaneous explosion in both mass-consumer and enterprise video applications are driven by increased utility with the tools, leading to wider adoption and lower costs. This feeds back into further development of those tools, furthering the cycle. Ease of use and the ability for users to download a video conferencing app on virtually any device has also helped to increase adoption and popularity of video conferencing.

Videoconferencing Is a Green Business Response to Climate Change
Carbon emissions need to be cut by 90 percent by 2050, according to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Videoconferencing can offer a competitive advantage for companies and is a win-win option for organizations and their employees. Many small businesses are limited by the amount of money they can pour into business travel, according to TVTI. By being familiar and comfortable with a videoconferencing tool, employees can save money and time, while still achieving the goal of staying in contact with crucial people who are essential to success.

How video conferencing can expand student growth
Like many educators, Charles Hay World School in Englewood Colorado faced a challenge: how to create an exciting, real-world curriculum within the confining four walls of a classroom. And as many other educators have discovered, connecting to museums, mentors and students in far-away locations via video conferencing was a clear way improve the overall educational experience and expand students’ world of learning.

Videoconferencing Connects Hospice Patients, Families – InformationWeek
Connecting with loved ones during their last days is invaluable to survivors and patients, but can be impossible for family members and friends who live far away. When it built Ames House, Hospice of the Western Reserve wanted to incorporate videoconferencing to bring everyone together. The nonprofit’s main goals were to ensure the system easily melded into the facility’s home-like atmosphere, Bob Plona, director of residential services at Hospice of the Western Reserve, says in an interview. It also had to be user friendly so patients didn’t need any assistance from staff, he adds.

This Week In Collaboration

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

What’s Standards-Based Video Conferencing Anyway?
“Are you currently set up with some sort of standards-based system for video conferencing?” The question itself exemplifies the inability of current players to understand the shift that WebRTC is bringing with it–and here, WebRTC is just a catalyst for a larger industry trend in communications. I have WebRTC on my browser. I’ve got Skype installed and Hangouts as well. Between these three services, do I need any “standards-based system for video conferencing” to talk to anyone?

A UC in the Cloud Update
Adoption of cloud-based UC applications isn’t exactly new. In fact, one could argue that the two most widely used collaboration applications have always been cloud-based; WebEx and Skype. But for those using enterprise platforms for voice, video conferencing, messaging, and document sharing, it’s only more recently that cloud-based alternatives have become a viable alternative to on-premises systems. So is it time for companies of any and all sizes to toss out their on-premises platforms and move to the cloud? The answer, as any good consultant will tell you, is “it depends.”

Federation of State Medical Boards requires video consults
This past weekend, the State Medical Boards’ Appropriate Regulation of Telemedicine (SMART) Workgroup of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) issued a new guidance document designed to help individual state medical boards establish more cohesive and uniform policies for the administration and regulation of telemedicine. According to the document issued by the SMART Workgroup, these model guidelines provide a basis for state medical boards to evaluate, “the appropriateness of care as related to the use of telemedicine, or the practice of medicine using electronic communication, information technology or other means, between a physician in one location and a patient in another location with or without an intervening health care provider.”

Collaboration Technology and the Future Workplace
There’s no doubt that the physical environment in which we work is important. Spaces that are clean, well-lit, and attractive can go a long way towards fostering productivity, positive attitudes, and teamwork. But configuring your physical space is just one part of the overall solution. Embedding collaboration technology into your space design is critical to the success of any workplace transformation effort. Employees need seamless, uninterrupted access to the information they need to get their jobs done. And the tools they use must be as intuitive as their own personal devices.

Telecommuting Tales from a First-Time Mom
Working in an environment that champions video, I’ve always had the flexibility to telecommute. But never have I appreciated it more than these past eight months. Here are a few reasons why; It’s a time saver. Every moment is precious and sometimes moms wish there were 28 hours in a day so they could get everything done. By using videoconferencing, there’s no commute, which means saving a lot of time. Some positions require a bit of travel and thanks to video there are ways for mothers to stay connected while away. Lastly, by using video to connect with coworkers, it gives mothers the ability to east in and out of maternity leave seamlessly by always staying connected face to face.

This Week In Collaboration

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

New hardware Solutions, New Investment, What Does it Mean to Industry
The video collaboration world has reached another interesting inflection point.  The market has shown that there is an experience threshold to deliver effective remote video collaboration – recall the rapid doubling of the video market between 2006 and 2008 when HD video became possible across a range of platforms. It is also clear that high quality experience delivers both dramatic productivity increases as well as significant business growth opportunities.

Top 5 Tips to Collect and Protect Tacit Knowledge with Video
An organization’s most valuable asset is knowledge.  Now more than ever before, organizations are aware of the importance of training to their success, and of the impact that training has on bottom-line performance.   Charles Jennings, former Chief Learning Officer of Reuters stated that only 10% of knowledge is derived from formal learning, while 70% comes from on-the-job experience.  That’s what we call ‘tacit knowledge.’ It’s the stuff you can’t find in manuals, the things you can only learn from decades on the job.

UC Sales On the Upswing
The results of the annual InformationWeek State of Unified Communications survey have just come in, and they show a significant uptick in UC sales. After lying relatively dormant from 2012 to 2013, respondents claiming to have deployed UC jumped from 38% to 44%. By the same token, 32% still claim to have no plans to deploy UC at all, roughly the same percentage as last year.

Why Telehealth Services Can Remedy Healthcare Deficiencies
Children’s Specialized Hospital is the first pediatric rehabilitation hospital in the country using VGo, a robot that allows physicians to interact with their patients at any hour of the day without physically being in the hospital. With VGo, a secure wireless connected device that enables a distant person to be “present” through two- way video, audio and motor driven action. VGo is 100% controlled by a person using a PC, Mac or iPad. With its integrated camera, microphones, and video display – all on a light-weight, robot style platform

Successful remote collaboration: tips from those in the know
The latest developments in communications technology have enabled more and more firms to operate from a variety of locations, including from overseas.When it’s time to brainstorm or plan business strategy, that same technology enables key individuals in those various locations to collaborate effectively without incurring huge costs of long distance travel to meetings and subsequent lost productivity.

Cool Use Case: Hosting Concerts With Video Conferencing

As video conferencing becomes increasingly popular and widely used,  the unique use cases continue to grow. Video has now expanded far past face-to-face conferencing for meetings.  One particularly interesting use case we have noticed recently is using video conferencing to host virtual concerts.

Picture this; you are an up and coming singer or musician trying to build a fan base or an established artist wanting to connect with your fans. Where are these fans? In the age of social media, the answer is often everywhere. Most artists would love the ability to perform for these fans all over the country or world, however, touring is expensive and often requires many resources. This is where video conferencing comes in.

In the world of music, online concerts can be a great opportunity for musicians and singers to perform for their fans all at once, connecting to them in a unique and creative way. This also opens up the performance to people who would not otherwise be able to attend the concert. Some artists are performing these concerts for large groups, while others are auctioning off private concerts and meet and greets. Similarly, some artists will perform these concerts in combination with an event they are doing at a local venue. This has been found to be a great way to expand audiences, promote their work, and connect with their fans on a truly personal level.

Along with the benefits of using video to host a concert, there are also challenges. Internet connection and bandwidth issues tend to be the largest hurdle. Not only does the artist need to have enough bandwidth to support the video, but the participants need to have a strong enough connection to enjoy the show. Also, if using a free service like Google Hangouts or Skype to host the show, attendees will need a log-in for the respective service. If they do not already have an account this can create extra steps which could result in fewer attendees.

As with most new trends there is going to be a learning and adoption curve. However, if people continue to use video conferencing more in their day to day life, we have no doubt that events like this will continue to rise in popularity along with other unique use cases.

This Week In Collaboration

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

Benefits of video conferencing include less travel, but it’s not No. 1
For decades, enterprises have turned to video conferencing in large part as a means of reducing business travel expenses. However, a recent survey by Wainhouse Research of 4,700 end users of video conferencing found that the incentives for using video are shifting: 94% noted that the biggest benefit was increased efficiency and productivity; 88% cited increased impact of discussions; and 87% said video expedited decision-making — the same percentage who said it reduced travel.

Telework Week Saved Feds 14 Million Miles, $13 Million
This year’s Telework Week, which ran March 3-7, drew 163,973 pledges, more than four times the 2011 number. The average Telework Week participant teleworked two days during the week, avoided a 45-mile round-trip commute into the office and saved 4.5 hours and $90 in commuting costs for the week. Nearly all (94 percent) pledges came from the federal government, enabling federal employees to save a collective $13 million in commuting costs, avoid 14 million miles of travel and gain back more than 716,000 hours.

Concierge healthcare services via video – a concept on the rise
Although not a new concept, concierge healthcare services used to be a luxury that only a certain percentage of Americans could possibly afford. Changes in the healthcare system and economic drivers may be changing that. Under this model, doctors essentially work under retainer, being paid monthly fees to offer healthcare services to a patient or family. Healthcare practices operating in a concierge healthcare model could utilize telemedicine solutions to conduct many of their house calls and appointments. This diminishes the travel element and enables medical professionals to see just as many, if not more, patients each day. Telemedicine can also allow doctors to cast a much wider net for their patients.

Mobility Tops the List of Digital Priorities
If you thought either big data analytics or cloud computing initiatives rank at the top of today’s digital agenda, guess again. Mobility strategies hold a clear edge, according to a recent survey from Accenture. The resulting report, “Mobility: Fueling the Digital Surge,” demonstrates how much further ahead “mobility leader” organizations are on their progress toward these goals, compared to the rest of the field. And while the required commitment here is clearly evident at the very highest levels of organizational leadership, there are still many obstacles that CIOs must overcome.

Get ready for new ATM’s
Recently, more and more banks are starting to equip their ATM’s with technological upgrades, one of those being video conferencing. Banks are working on technology tools to give customers new, faster ways to interact with their branches. ATMs with touch screens will soon work with our smartphones. New apps will help zip cash to you as quickly as you can snap a picture. Videoconferencing with representatives in call centers lets banks extend hours for basic services and screen tellers can handle about 95 percent of typical bank transactions. This allows both customers and banks to increase productivity and efficiency when handling transactions and consultations.