Santa is officially headed out and is on his way to our homes to leave gifts for everyone all over the globe. While he is away, how does he stay connected to all back at the North Pole? On second thought, how does he stay connected all year round? Well video conferencing plays a big part in Santa’s role as CEO, husband, and global gift giver. Take a look at a few of the ways that Santa uses video collaboration to make his life a little bit easier.
Driving Elf Productivity
Santa has a demanding job being the CEO of the entire elf workforce. Therefore, using video conferencing helps him to expedite decision making, enhance the ability for him and the elves to function as a team, creates more efficient meetings with the elves while he is out on the sleigh, and betters his ability to quickly ensure toy quality while the elves are on the production floor. All of these help elf productivity and allow Santa more time to spend time with Mrs. Clause.
Staying Connected With Mrs. Clause
That brings me to my next point. We all know how important it is to spend time with your significant other. This applies to Santa as well. Whether he is out on the sleigh traveling around the globe delivering presents, or spending time at the toy production facility, he can still connect with Mrs. Clause via video conferencing. Even better, with BYOD abilities, Santa can use his tablet or mobile device to conduct video calls instead of having to lug his computer around on the sleigh. Video conferencing with Santa makes for a happy Mrs. Clause, and we all know the saying….happy wife, happy life!
Collaboration With Parents
It is quite the task for Santa to go through the lengthy naughty or nice list every year. Utilizing video conferencing to speak to parents about how their children are acting this year, makes going through the list much more efficient. Santa can also use video to share content about trending toys to help get ideas and input for toy production the coming year.
As the elf population continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to find efficient ways to conduct elf interviews. Likewise, with toys being more and more technologically advanced, it is imperative to recruit the best talent possible. By using video conferencing, Santa can conduct interviews regardless of the elf’s location. Santa can also conduct more interviews in less time by alleviating the need for elves to travel to Santa’s workshop to partake in the vigorous interview process. Video conferencing gives Santa the ability to find the best and the brightest elves from all over the North Pole without even leaving his home.
Connecting With Sick Children
Some children in hospitals are not able to get to wherever Santa is to sit on his lap to let him know what they want for Christmas. By working with Cisco Systems, he has come up with a program called Connected Santa. This allows Santa to connect with hospitals all over the world and use video conferencing technology and equipment to make bedside visits to sick children. Santa does not want to forget any child around Christmas and this use of video collaboration allows him to make sure he gets to all of them.
2013 has been another great year for collaboration. A few trends that continue to be at the forefront of innovation include big data, SaaS, Mobility, Content, Social, and Telework. Below we will look back on some of these popular collaboration trends of 2013 and why they continue to help shape collaboration.
Domination of SaaS and the “Cloud”:
SaaS and the Cloud have continued to influence the IT industry this year. SaaS companies have continued to grow, and many providers of on-premise software and hardware options are now introducing SaaS solutions to both complement existing solutions and give alternative options in order to retain their customer base. The benefits of these SaaS solutions include no installation of hardware or software, faster release cycles, pay as you go usage and no maintenance costs. Another reason organizations are moving to cloud-based options is the ability to scale. This flexibility with cloud services allows organizations to purchase for their current usage, expand the solution as demand and usage increases, and add functionality as the business grows.
BYOD is here, and it is not going anywhere. According to IDC, there will be 6-7 mobile devices to every PC by 2016. The challenge is no longer if you will support BYOD, but which devices will make up your BYOD strategy. The mobility war between mobile device manufacturers remains as well, and applications to make these devices more effective continue to expand at rapid rates. With that said, questions are now centered around vendor preference/combination, security, versions, scrubbing and customer data. No doubt, these concerns and decisions will be a main focus this coming year as mobility continues to dominate the forefront of technology and collaboration.
Collision of Video & Content:
Although most people think of video collaboration as only video calls, the ability to display, discuss and annotate content while conducting a video call is extremely important to achieving effective collaboration. Video collaboration and content collaboration have both been around for years as separate entities. This integration of the two has finally matured this year resulting in companies experiencing better collaboration, faster decisions, and ultimately, BETTER experiences!
Convenient Social Collaboration:
Social collaboration is about the casual interactions among colleagues, business partners and even customers that enable creativity and drive innovation. Creating both formal (video/web conferences) and informal (IM or quick video chat) collaboration sessions enables colleagues to brainstorm and make decisions in the most effective manner. Unified communication tools with presence makes it easy to tell when people are available and easily hop from email/IM to video chat. This quick and convenient connection increases interactions among colleagues, which in turn increases productivity and drives innovation.
The Year of the Video Start-Ups:
This year could be called the year of visual collaboration start-ups. Some noteworthy ones include Videxio, Pexip, & Acano. Pexip introduced a scalable software platform that provides personal meeting rooms for any number of users on video, voice, & mobile. Videxio, a subscription based, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering, makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing both possible and easy. Acano brought us coSpaces; virtual meetings rooms where users can connect with any device or application they have with the added benefit of dedicated spaces for people to organize and exchange ideas by storing chat logs, content, and meeting notes. These companies continue to bring innovative solution to the visual collaboration world.
Big Data Boom:
Data continues to grow and based on IDC estimates, will continue to grow at 50% a year and more than double every two years. Companies continue to need to analyze large amounts of data streaming in, understand the voice of the customer in the social media world, and find better ways to create visual data in order to facilitate better and faster decision-making. The growth in big data has created a culture of data-driven analytics used to make key business decisions. Organizations have also been forced to take a closer look at data security and data privacy in order to address and prevent security threats. How organizations use data to gain competitive advantage continues to be a debate, however, the information gathered from handling and managing big data collaboratively is advantageous to any organization.
To Telework or Not to Telework? – That is the question:
The telecommuting debate has emerged with a vengeance this year due to noteworthy announcements like Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer discontinuing telework policies and the Federal Government’s introduction of the Stay in Place Cut the waste initiative. Marissa Mayer’s controversial ban on telework centered around her belief that collaboration and communication are important in continuing to build the business and for that to happen effectively, people need to be working side by side. This new policy received harsh criticism ranging from anti-feminisms comments to the belief that Yahoo was moving backwards by removing the ability to telecommute. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act was introduced in July. This would require the government to develop a plan that reduces agency travel expenses by up to 50% by 2017 by implementing video conferencing technologies. By utilizing video conferencing, individuals can stay connected face-to-face without the need for expensive travel and loss of time. Other advocates for telecommuting argue that not only does productivity increase, but employees are also happier and achieve a better work/life balance when they have the option to work remotely. As research continues on both ends, the debate will remain.
Looking back at 2013 illustrates just how important collaboration has become. Organizations throughout the world have upgraded collaboration technologies to mission critical applications. The above trends tell a compelling story about the need to address not only the technological challenges of connecting people but also the social, psychological, and business issues involved in people working together. Ultimately, moving any business forward requires a keen eye on the power of people. In 2014, organizations who have not embraced those ideals will find themselves struggling to compete.
Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.
Connected Santa is a program that Cisco Systems has created in which volunteer elves visit hospitals to help make the connection between children and Santa using Cisco Telepresence and Jabber technology. The elves will make a video conference call with Santa so they can have the important conversations about whether they have been good or bad and what is on their wish list.
Mobility is no longer a nice to have in healthcare, it is becoming a necessity and an expectation. Two technologies reviewed in this article are ad-hoc video conferencing and streaming technologies. Mobile technology brings new thinking about collaboration and EMR.
The huddle room has changed the conference room business. The huddle room is basically where personal telepresence meets group collaboration. From HD video conferencing to desktop collaboration, these high powered systems for huddle rooms can make these small rooms into powerful capsules of collaboration.
Teamwork is undergoing a revolution with organizations weaving tools, technologies and systems together. One of the main factors in how to operate an enterprise successfully depends on how effectively workers are able to effectively communicate and collaborate. The answer to this lies in unified communications including mobility, cloud capabilities and social collaboration
Events have changed over the last few years. They have gone from just attending an event and then leaving, to being a much more collaborative experience both during, before and after. To achieve great events, organizations need to include online collaboration tools such as video streaming, Facebook, Pinterest and twitter for example, to foster communication between attendees and exhibitors. Using these technologies also helps brands both listen and interact with their community, which is essential for not only successful events, but also a successful brand.
The benefits of video conferencing are undeniable and technological innovations have made video more accessible and easier to use than ever. Unfortunately, some organizations are finding it difficult to drive usage and adoption of these solutions among their workforce.
We created the below infographic to illustrate some of the key elements of an integrated approach to adoption. This not only ensures more users will embrace the technology but it will also make achieving a great ROI possible.
To dig deeper and to understand some of the best practices and key areas to consider, download the whitepaper as well.
Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.
Using video conferencing to be able to get away from your desk but still stay connected takes some of the stress out of this busy holiday season. Video conferencing can make sure you stay connected, maintain your presence, and meet on the go.
March 3-7, 2014 federal employees will be asked to stay at home by their agencies and not come in to the office. This is part of Telework Week, the Mobile Work Exchange’s annual global initiative that encourages governments to pledge to telework.
Video conferencing improves overdue ticket collection in San Antonio. When officers pull over drivers who have arrest warrants due to unpaid tickets, the offenders can speak with a judge immediately via video conferencing and settle the issue remotely.
The use of video conferencing for employee training is becoming more prevalent because it lowers costs to employers, provides a solid training foundation for employees, and makes training of current employees seamless.
Successful businesses rely on the technology solutions that foster collaboration on the go. Have the ability to stay connected from wherever employees are equates to a happier workforce, which often leads to happier customers.
As the times change, the interview process is changing as well. In this case we are talking about video conferencing. Although video conference interviews have not completely replaced face to face interviewing, they are often done at a very important point in the interview process; the first impression. This first impression will help to determine if candidates are an initial good fit for the position or not. As important as it is for the candidate to make a good first impression, it is also very important for you and your organization to come across in a positive and professional manner.
Video interviews can be as effective as an in-person interview but it is very important to understand how the process works so you can conduct these conversations as productively as possible. Here are 10 tips for conducting a high quality video interview.
1. Set Expectations: At the beginning of the interview make sure the interviewee understands the goal of the call and what you would like to get accomplished. Understanding what will take place right from the start will help to ease any jitters the candidate might have with this form of interview.
2. Make interviewee comfortable: In addition to setting expectations up front, do your best to make them feel welcome and comfortable. In most cases the interviewee will become more comfortable as the interview goes on so allow plenty of time. This will also help to avoid any rushing in case of technology issues.
3. Shut off all other technologies: Make sure you turn off all other technology to ensure you are not distracted while interviewing the participant. Hearing email or instant message notifications is not only distracting to you but can be very distracting for the interviewee.
4. Talk Slowly: Video calls can speed up the pace of your words so make sure you take your time when speaking to the interviewee. Sometimes connections can get choppy as well so if that starts to occur make sure to speak slower and repeat when necessary if you are having connection problems.
5. Have high quality equipment: During a video interview, the interviewee should have a high quality picture of you and your team. Try to avoid connecting via wireless for quality purposes and make sure you have a high quality microphone to ensure good audio quality.
6. Keep a clean presentation area: Have a clutter free, well lit area to conduct the interview, just as you would expect the participant to have. Make sure you are facing the camera at an appropriate angle, as this will create a more engaging experience for the participant.
7. Maintain good personal presentation: Along the lines of a clean presentation area, you should also have good personal presentation and conduct. Dress as if you were conducting a face to face interview and present yourself over video in a natural way.
8. Provide instructions ahead of time: Send both interview materials as well as any technology best practices or log-in information in advance to make the interviewee more comfortable and to help avoid any issues ahead of time.
9. Be patient: Understand that not all people are comfortable with technology and some candidates may stumble at first when participating in a video interview. Along the same lines, it is important to realize that technical glitches do happen so try to make the interviewee comfortable if they do.
10. Deliver a virtual handshake: Due to the inability to give a real handshake in a video interview, it is important to deliver a thought out sign off statement indicating that the interview is over. This can be as simple as a “thank you, we will speak soon.”
As I sit here on the eve of thanksgiving, thinking about the holiday and what I am thankful for, one of the first things that comes to mind is how thankful I am for the ability to work remotely. With the use of video conferencing I have been able to travel and spend the holiday week with my family all while still staying connected with colleagues and able to conduct face to face meetings.
The ability to connect and collaborate with people from anywhere at anytime is just one of the many benefits of video conferencing. That being said, there are a few specific features on a video call that I am very thankful for every day. So in honor of the thanksgiving spirit, I have chosen my top 3 to share with you.
1. Muting – Nothing is more distracting when trying to focus during a video call then hearing loud background noise, keyboard typing or phones ringing. Having the ability to mute participants while on a call is very beneficial when dealing with those obnoxious distractions. Many video conferencing offerings have the ability to either mute all (convenient when someone is giving a presentation) or to individually mute unruly participants.
2. One-click calling – The age old problem with video conferencing has been how difficult it is to use. With one-click calling video can be as easy as making a phone call. This means no more confusing meetings where no one can figure out how to get the video call started, remote participants can’t dial in, and inevitably everyone ends up dialing in over audio out of pure frustration.
3. Self view functionality – When first starting to use video, having the self-view window was very important to me as I was always concerned about the facial expressions I was making during the call. The self-view window also helps for making sure the lighting and your positioning in front of the camera is correct because nothing is worse than talking with someone who is sitting with a sunny window behind them and the camera positioned so you are looking up their nostrils.
What video features are you thankful for? Share in the comments section below!
Happy Thanksgiving! Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.
Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.
The increase in telework has been rapidly changing the dynamics of the workplace and employees are reaping the rewards that telework provides. These benefits include reduced office costs, reduced staff turnover, greater work/life balance, and increased productivity. However, because work health and safety legislation apply to home-based working as well as office based work, companies considering telework arrangements need to make sure they implement appropriate guidelines and policies to minimize risks and ensure a safe workforce.
For music students in rural areas, getting specialized training can be very difficult due to lack of teachers and resources. In response to this, Nebraska has started using video conferencing to link students with instructors at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Leveraging video conferencing has allowed music to stay alive in these rural Nebraska towns.
When a baby came down with a difficult to diagnose virus, a physician at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, called for a telemedicine consultation with Oregon Health & Science University pediatric intensivist. The doctor examined the child via a two way communication system with a robot like device at the patients end and a telemedicine computer workstation on the OHSU end. They were able to determine the baby had a life threatening bacterial infection that required immediate attention.
As telework and mobile work forces continue to mature and increase across the country, technology companies are racing to supply these modern workers with the tools they need to get the job done. Cisco has announced several new solutions at it’s collaboration summit last month. Some of those include the new Cisco Gateway, the Jabber Guest feature, and several new communication endpoint technologies and products.
94% of people believe that face-to-face communications improve business relationships, according to a survey released by Blue Jeans Network. The survey also found that talking to a person’s face is vital to avoiding preconceptions. These significant statistics continue to prove the effectiveness of video conferencing as a corporate communications tool.
Video interviewing has been consistently gaining traction with hiring managers and recruiters over the last few years due to the time savings and the ability to cut down on travel expenses. Video interviews also give companies insights they would not be able to get over the phone or when reviewing a paper resume including body language and personality.
That being said, video interviews can seem very daunting to anyone unfamiliar or uncomfortable using video conferencing technology. With the prevalence of video interviewing growing rapidly it is essential to understand both the technology and the etiquette in order to make the best impression.
Here are 10 tips for both preparing and conducting your video interview.
- Choose a Quiet and Clean Surrounding: Make sure you set yourself up with a simple neutral background. Elaborate backdrops can be very distracting. Choose a place that has little to no noise and where you will not have people distracting you or the interviewer.
- Be Aware Background Noise: The microphone picks up all noises so avoid typing, shuffling papers, or tapping your pen while on the video call.
- Make Eye Contact: Look directly in to the camera. You want to make eye contact with the interviewer and that means looking in to the camera, not at the screen or the picture-in-picture screen of yourself.
- Use the Picture-in-Picture Feature: Although you should look directly in to the camera for making eye contact, having the PiP feature enabled will help to make sure you appear professionally to the interviewer. Just make sure you only glance at it once in a while.
- Dress Professionally: You need to look your best on camera. Dress as if you would for an in-person interview. Solid colors tend to come across best on video, and you should avoid patterns and white as they tend to be distracting or will wash you out.
- Practice Makes Perfect: If possible do a video run through with a friend before the interview. Practice answering questions over video and get feedback on your demeanor. Also, take note of your appearance over video and ask your friend to let you know of any thing you were doing that might be distracting.
- Good Posture: Sit up straight and try not to slouch, fidget, or look away from the camera. It is very important to show you are engaged, as it is much easier to appear uninterested when over video. Act as if you were in the interviewers office.
- Close Other Programs on Your Computer: Notifications from instant messaging programs or social media are both distracting and look unprofessional. Also, too many open programs on your computer can slow your computer speed which can reduce your video quality.
- Use Notes: One of the benefits of a video interview is that you can have notes. Notes are ok but make them short, easy to scan, and position them in front of you so that when you refer to them you aren’t looking down.
- Test your audio and video: Prior to your interview test your video and audio quality and resolve any technical issues that arise. This will help to alleviate any problems when the interview starts which can be both flustering to the interviewee and take away from the time of the interview if it is on a strict time schedule.
What is an AV Room? A place to collaborate? A place to meet with remote team members? A place to present PowerPoint slides? While the correct answer may be all of the above; none of these functions would happen without the proper design and configuration of the space. Technology integration and the actual room environment are essential considerations when designing an optimal meeting space. As stated by Tim Hennen, SVP of Engineering at IVCi, “An audio visual integrated room is a meld of art and science. The art is in the design of the room itself; the lighting, furniture, and the selection of the right technologies that will eventually come together. The science comes in with the building of those technology connections and making each device work together as if they were one.” That being said, there are 4 core design and technology components that are imperative when creating an effective collaboration environment. Understanding these will also help with determining what you would like to accomplish within the room.
Video “What do you want to see?” Video in an AV room is about the display of content, how you see meeting participants on the other side of the video call, and how remote participants see you. The equipment associated with video includes cameras, displays, a matrix switcher, a digital video processor, and a codec.
Audio “How do you want to hear/be heard?” Audio in an AV room is about how audio is projected in the room, how sound is sent to remote participants, and how you are heard to remote participants. Equipment for audio includes speakers, microphones, acoustic panels, and an audio control system.
Control “How do you want to control the room?” Control in an AV room is about managing what you display, where you display it, and who is heard. The equipment involved includes a control processor and the control panel.
Lighting “How will the room be lit properly?” Lighting in an AV room is about where the lighting is placed, where current natural light sources are located, and where you want your furniture and equipment placed. Lights, shades, and lighting placement are the essentials associated with lighting in an AV room.
Understanding how these components affect the collaboration space is as important as selecting the the technology itself. Poor lighting or acoustics impact the collaboration experience just as much as not having the right video conferencing or presentation equipment. Download a copy of our AV Buyers guide for detailed explanations of each core component in addition to some handy tips and tricks.