Developing a Video Culture – Part IV

Power to the People! 

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization – including proper communication and training. This is the fourth post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here.

People are inherently resistant to any major change; they take comfort in the status quo because of fear associated with the uncertainty of something new.  A major organizational change, such as the implementation of a visual collaboration solution, changes the way colleagues interact with each other and perform their daily tasks.  This shift in the daily routine moves users out of their comfort zone by expecting them to learn something new; which if not addressed, can produce significant resistance. 

It is imperative for senior management to address the impact that visual collaboration has on their employees.  Frequent and open communications regarding the reasons for change and expected benefits for both the organization and the end user are a necessity. If organizations do not address the uncertainty around a new technology the resulting resistance can be insurmountable, leading to an abandoned solution. 

Those familiar with video conferencing applications, such as Skype or Face Time, are more apt to accept enterprise video than people who have never used video before.  Many people take comfort in security of email and phone calls because others cannot read their facial expressions.  Therefore, new users can initially become overwhelmed by the face-to-face exposure video provides.  Proper training along with open dialogue can help address some of the uncertainty associated with switching to video communications.  Training should include several different topics; such as operational procedures, best practices and video etiquette. 

While most users understand basic functionality of video equipment; they lack the expertise to manage the infrastructure required for effective visual collaboration.  A team of video professionals, who operate the back-end video environment and provide technical support when needed, is crucial to any video environment.  Advanced video operators should proactively monitor video meetings to allow participants to focus on the matters at hand rather than the collaboration technology.  Therefore, organizations must either locate the right technical support staff or partner with a video services provider for access to advanced technical support. 

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part One: Because the boss said so is not enough!
Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Three: P is for Process, that’s good enough for me
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

Clouds Are Easy on the Eyes and the Pocket

You’re thinking of investing in a visual collaboration solution or upgrading the existing deployment; however, the equipment and management costs are adding up quickly.

While you know the value visual communication provides; you need to justify the expense to your boss.  Unfortunately, all the different components are making it difficult to show a return on investment.

Enter the cloud.

Organizations can have access to multi-point bridging, firewall traversal, recording and streaming features without the complicated, not to mention costly, equipment.  This eliminates the frustrating “figure it out” period and enables organizations to realize the ROI of their video investment almost instantaneously.

Additionally, instead of a significant upfront investment in network and equipment; organizations can spread out the operation costs through monthly expenses.  Not only does this allow organizations to budget more effectively; it shifts the video investment from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure.   As a result, organizations can fully deduct the costs in the period they are incurred instead of having to worry about depreciation.

Start realizing the benefits of your video investment by saying goodbye to upfront capital investments and hello to manageable monthly payments!

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Why Take Video to the Cloud? 

Control System Programming: The Unsung Hero of Collaboration

Many people take for granted the ease of which they collaborate in a conference room.  With the touch of a button participants can switch between content from a PC, projector or interactive whiteboard; mute and unmute microphones; and pan, tilt, or zoom the camera on a video conferencing system.  The technology simply fades into the background while meeting participants focus on the business matters at hand.  Thinking about all of the different components required for effective collaboration can be exhausting; so, how is it that collaboration can be so easy and so effortless?

Simple:  the room’s control system programming.  The backbone of any audio visual integrated room, the control system provides an easy to use interface to manage the room’s functionality.   Instead of having one remote to operate the telepresence system, one to operate the plasma display and yet another remote to operate the projector or interactive whiteboard; organizations can simply invest in a Crestron or AMX Control System.

Gone are the days where participants have to spend fifteen minutes prior to a meeting figuring out how everything works.  With the help of expert programmers, organizations can create a standardized user interface to operate all of their conference rooms in all of their locations.  From a small room with a projector to an immersive telepresence room with three cameras and five displays; the control system ensures participants can collaborate effortlessly.

Advanced programming also allows organizations to push technology boundaries by customizing the video experience to fit their unique requirements.   A custom control program can be designed to display content from multiple different sources, arrange participants in a particular order on screen or manage the speaking privileges of numerous participants.   Essentially, an organization can use a control system to create a visual collaboration solution that is perfectly aligned with its needs.

So, the next time you have an effective collaboration session; give your control system a slight nod, a high five or even a fist bump – just show the little guy some love, he deserves it.

Developing a Video Culture – Part III

P is for Process, that’s good enough for me

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization – including properly defining processes. This is the third post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here.

Implementing a new technology has a dramatic effect on the way employees do their job.  Visual collaboration sessions shift from scheduling a conference call to scheduling video conference which is far more complex in nature. To join a conference call, users simply dial a phone number and connect to an audio bridge; however, with a video call, participants have to worry about firewalls, network exchanges and more.  Learning all of these new processes can be extremely challenging; especially when users are unfamiliar with the technology.

Therefore, it is important to define and structure the processes required for effective collaboration in an easy to use and repeatable manner. Prior to implementation, stakeholders should work with video professionals to develop the necessary processes and procedures end users need to utilize visual collaboration solutions.  This includes how to connect to a video conference, displaying different types of content, changing audio and zoom settings and who to contact in the event of an issue. Documentation should be disseminated to all end users and a reference guide should be located in each conference room.

When designing processes and procedures it is important to define both the required steps and the expected outcomes. Users are more apt to follow a process when they understand the desired outcomes.  For example, pre-testing the video connection of a system on a different network can help prevent connectivity delays at the start of a meeting.  If users understand the role of pre-testing a network connection they are more likely to do so before an important meeting thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful collaboration session.

Properly defined and structured processes also need to be repeatable in order to be effective. Consistently having a new step or a new challenge creates a sense of frustration among users as it highlights their lack of expertise. Users should be able to replicate the process effortlessly; regardless of their background or expertise. This provides end users with a sense of familiarity which can help them overcome the fear and frustration associated with learning something new.

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part One: Because the boss said so is not enough!
Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Four: Power to the People
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

Cloud Services Accelerate Telepresence Adoption in Public Sector

The Center for Digital Government has issued a brief detailing the use of cloud-based video collaboration in the public sector.  Many organizations are switching to the cloud not only for the cost savings, but for the realistic and efficient interactions video conferencing provides.  In fact, “about a quarter of government institutions in North America, Europe and Asia are already using the cloud, with another 36 percent investigating its use.”

The cloud offers an open a platform in which users can connect anytime, anywhere, with anyone, on any device.  Organizations no longer have to worry about differences in equipment; or the various platforms and networks citizens or other agencies are using. Cloud services allow for successful visual collaboration in a secure, reliable, consistent and easy to use manner; providing endless applications and benefits.

As a result, educators can easily bring engaging activities to the classroom; military personnel can report time-sensitive situations from the field so decisions can be made in real-time and healthcare experts can consult with patients thousands of miles away.  Cloud video extends an organization’s reach beyond previous geographical barriers allowing users to collaborate and make decisions quickly.

By utilizing video-as-a-service, public sector organizations can also avoid the upfront capital expenditures and management challenges associated with visual collaboration technologies.  Agencies can begin collaborating with colleagues, citizens and other agencies immediately; creating value and ROI almost instantaneously.   For example, Oakland County, Michigan’s judicial video program uses video conduct attorney-client meetings, arraignment hearings and telemedicine services.  This program has saved the county an estimated $38.4 million since its implementation four years ago.

Cloud video services provide an effective alternative; especially in a time where cost savings and increased communication are at a premium.

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Video Collaboration Cloud

Developing a Video Culture – Part II

It’s more than just bits and bytes

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization – including properly integrating the technology. This is the second post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.  Read part one here.

Visual collaboration technology can revolutionize the way companies conduct business; it can increase productivity while decreasing travel expenditures and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Additionally, interpersonal relationships among colleagues, partners and clients are strengthened through the familiarity of face-to-face interactions without the time consuming business travel. However, these results are only as good as the integration of the technology.

Seamless integration allows the technology to fade into the background so participants focus on the meeting instead of the equipment; however, achieving this can be difficult.  The actual meeting room environment plays a significant role in effective visual collaboration; including suitable lighting, proper acoustics and the ability to shift between multiple sources of content.  Additionally, organizations must consider how the technology will integrate into existing systems; such as unified communications applications and other IT functions.

There is nothing more frustrating than a technology that only works half the time.  The inability to connect properly, view and hear speakers clearly or push content in a reliable manner can be detrimental to a successful implementation.  The adage that trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy can be applied to implementing a new technology.  A solution can work 99% of the time but if it fails to work once during a critical time, either with an important client or business partner; it can be difficult to continue driving adoption. To ensure reliability, organizations must take into consideration the impact video has on network performance.  The company may decide to invest in additional bandwidth that is dedicated to video usage.

As with every aspect of a company, security is paramount.  Therefore, when implementing a visual collaboration solution, an organization must consider the security of the network, video rooms and video equipment, and sensitive information/presentations.  At times, organizations take the path of least resistance in connecting video equipment to endpoints outside of their network; however, this can leave an organization vulnerable to a breach of security. It is imperative for companies to invest the time and resources in creating and maintaining a secure visual collaboration environment.

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part One: Because the boss said so is not enough!
Part Three: P is for Process, thats good enough for me
Part Four: Power to the People
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

Developing a Video Culture – Part I

Because the boss said so is not enough!

In a world where instant messaging, email and online audio meetings reign supreme; shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communication solutions can be extremely challenging.  Implementing a new technology is a significant organizational change that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.  There are several key steps an organization must take in order to effectively drive adoption throughout the organization – starting with executive support and planning. This the first post in a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Prior to even purchasing video conferencing equipment, senior management must fully commit to adopting a visual collaboration solution.  Strong executive support is critical to any successful change as lower levels within the organization look to senior management for guidance.  Once executive support has been established, the management team must identify the role visual collaboration should play in the organization and the desired state of its implementation. Specific and measurable also goals need to be determined; such as reducing travel expenditures by 20% the first year or achieving a 75% adoption rate among middle-management.

After the desired state has been identified; senior management must determine the driving forces behind implementation and any resisting forces to adoption.  Driving forces consist of the factors propelling the organization to reach the desired state of visual collaboration; such as the need to make revenue generating activities more engaging.  Resisting forces consist of the factors that are preventing the organization from reaching the desired state; such as high capital expenditures or technical complexity.

If senior management does not invest time in planning or identifying key factors; the implementation process can become haphazard leading to low adoption rates.  Additionally, identifying resisting forces allows senior management to proactively address any concerns that could hinder adoption while identifying driving forces and goals allows senior management to effectively evaluate the success of implementation and distinguish areas for improvement.

Once these steps have been completed, senior management must communicate openly and freely with all levels of the organization.  Open communication about the implementation process, the projected benefits of visual collaboration and the reasons for change can help ease some of the fear and uncertainty associated with deploying a new technology. Furthermore, strong executive communication can garner the support of key influencers in each department.  These leaders will act as a catalyst; influencing more of their colleagues to adopt visual collaboration.  As a result, the momentum of adoption continues to increase until the organization has fully embraced video collaboration.

This post is part of a five-part series covering the successful development of a video culture within an organization.

Part Two: It’s more than just bits and bytes
Part Three: P is for Process, thats good enough for me
Part Four: Power to the People
Part Five: Driving Usage & Adoption

Why Take Video to the Cloud?

 

A common question among organizations is why they should make the decision to outsource their video conferencing environment to a video services provider.  Steve Jobs provides the best explanation with a whiteboard and a two-by-two grid. To get Apple refocused in 1997, he told his team members that they needed to focus on four great products instead of the random array of devices they were currently producing. He said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”

Simply put, using video-as-a-service allows organizations to focus on their core competencies; whether it’s designing and manufacturing high quality products or providing expert services.

In order to successfully operate a video environment, an organization needs video infrastructure equipment, defined processes and procedures, and a team of video professionals with experience and expertise. This requires a substantial upfront capital investment along with additional expenses for ongoing maintenance, training and equipment replacement. Not only does this become quite costly, it diverts resources from departments critical to accomplishing the organization’s mission and goals.

Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) removes the obstacles that organizations face during an enterprise implementation of visual collaboration and unified communications solutions by providing them with the tools needed to make collaboration work.

  • The People: VaaS provides access to a team of video experts with the experience and expertise to manage, operate and scale a video environment. This allows participants to simply enter a conference room or launch a video application and they are automatically connected to the video call.
  • The Process: VaaS allows organizations to take advantage defined processes and best practices for optimal meeting experiences; including centralized scheduling process, pre-meeting connectivity testing and proactive meeting monitoring. Participants can focus on the meeting at hand rather than worry about the technology.
  • The Technology: VaaS provides advanced video technology in the cloud which allows for video bridging, audio conferencing, direct voice dialing, streaming and archiving. Additional services can connect consumer video applications (Skype) or mobile devices (iPhone/iPad) allowing participants to connect from anywhere.

With VaaS, organizations can extend the reach of collaboration throughout their organization by allowing participants to collaborate anytime, anywhere, with anyone, on any device. Instead of worrying about locating the right technical staff or determining the best way to utilize video; organizations can focus on their core business practices while realizing the ROI and other business benefits of video almost immediately.