7 ways video collaboration builds a competitive advantage

Re-post article from Webex.com

How video conferencing boosts innovation, productivity, and time to market.

In today’s global economy, the ability to innovate and bring products to market quickly is imperative. Companies must collaborate and communicate seamlessly to avoid costly errors and bottlenecks that lead to market misfires. Businesses can lessen the likelihood of such missteps by implementing video collaboration tools.

The availability of low-cost technology — including high-quality video conferencing equipment, high-bandwidth networks, and user-friendly applications and tools — is bringing video collaboration within reach of today’s workforce.

Video enables managers, knowledge workers, salespeople, and customer-service employees to better convey and understand information that is being shared within projects or engagements. As a result, companies can act more quickly on new ideas and bring them to market faster with a higher degree of quality and customer input.

Here are seven ways video collaboration helps companies gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace:

  1. Smaller travel budgets

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    Reliable, user-friendly video conferencing enables face-to-face experiences with colleagues and clients around the world without incurring travel expenses. For instance, GHD, an engineering, architecture, and environmental consulting company, uses video communication for collaboration among 5,500 employees across five continents. Video conferencing allows the company to “decrease travel costs, as well as improve productivity overall, by giving employees more time to do meaningful work,” said Elizabeth Harper, Chief Information Officer at GHD.

  2. Accelerated workflows

    Video collaboration can reduce workflow bottlenecks. The ability to interact in real time enables on-the-spot problem solving instead of email chains and phone calls. It also reduces the chances of misinterpretation or miscommunication to improve decision making. The efficiencies created by more direct interaction between co-workers means employees can focus on their core tasks. Faster innovation benefits

  3. Video collaboration accelerates innovation and speed-to-market.

    The ability to streamline communication and increase turnaround of workflow documents can reduce product-development time by 25% — or cut it by more than one day a week.1 Innovation often is the product of brainstorming sessions. Innovation leaders rely on collaborative exchanges to identify, develop, and operationalize new solutions. Videos can replicate this togetherness across global channels, drawing in expertise from anywhere across the world.

  4. Language barriers lessened

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    Many video communication tools include translation-on-demand capabilities, which is critical for companies expanding into global markets. A Cisco survey found that 94% of organizations value video as a way to break down language barriers in an increasingly global marketplace. This benefit extends to customers, as well. Providing real-time face-to-face services using video collaboration anywhere is revolutionizing many industries and provides businesses with a competitive advantage by making it feasible to offer more personalized services. For example, hospitals are able to better serve patients who have a limited proficiency in English.

    “Those with good, quality interpretation are positioning themselves to be the provider of choice for larger and larger portions of the community,” said Melinda Paras, President of Paras and Associates, which implemented video conferencing capabilities across 45 healthcare facilities.

  5. Higher employee retention, productivity

    Another advantage of video collaboration is the ability to record and archive meetings or events for training purposes. Video-driven learning and development improves employee engagement, morale, and alignment, which can lead to increased productivity and higher retention. Video communication also offers a more immediate medium for knowledge sharing, which can be especially helpful in complex or fast-moving markets. A typical knowledge management system includes PowerPoint decks with bullet points, pictures, and diagrams, or reports.

    “These videos are much more effective at conveying information and transferring expertise,” said Jeffrey Polzer, UPS Foundation Professor of Human Resource Management at Harvard Business School. “Instead of just having a text-based quote, a student can watch the protagonist through a video. They can see and hear how they speak, and determine for themselves whether the speakers are trustworthy or inspiring.”

  6. Supercharged customer service

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    Video enables face-to-face customer communication on a global scale. Customers often stay with or switch their service provider due to customer service, according to a recent Accenture survey.

    “As a customer, to have a person there with a face that allows you to read non-verbals, to develop rapport and trust, and see whether they appear to be engaged with the problem, can make all the difference,” Polzer said.

    Several prominent companies, such as American Express, now offer apps that engage customers in video collaboration with customerservice representatives.

  7. Better sales-conversion rates

    Video-aided B2B salespeople moved an average of 20% of their video collaboration contacts to a sales funnel, according to an Aberdeen report. The average deal size was more than $500,000, Aberdeen’s survey of 380 enterprises found.

The path to video collaboration

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Effective video collaboration depends on the level of the engagement across the organization, the video quality and the solution’s user-friendliness. Organizations must gauge the needs of each stakeholder to determine how to apply video collaboration tools appropriately across the enterprise.

Organizations should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Where are the pain points within operations or processes that video can address?
  • Are key departments, including IT, on board with supporting a video environment?
  • Will mobile fit into this new environment?

In addition, low video quality may detract from the messages participants are attempting to convey.

“The problem is that video quality varies dramatically,” explained Polzer. “If there’s a little bit of lag time, or there’s some interference, it can really disrupt the conversation, and it has some lingering effects that might be attributed to the other person, even unconsciously.”

Video collaboration tools also lose their effectiveness if they are difficult to use. The latest generation of tools, platforms and services enable rapid integration of video communications into key applications, training resources, project management, customer service and web applications.

Making video collaboration as easy as one click to connect with a subject matter expert or a team member can accelerate business results and enhance organization culture.

Conclusion: video boosts productivity, cuts costs

Video enhances communication and collaboration across the entire enterprise. It reduces or eliminates travel costs and opens new opportunities for business growth through faster product launches, increased productivity and accelerated innovation.

Video also encourages new ways of working that connect virtual teams and complex environments. Breakthrough results come when businesses engage their employees to brainstorm, innovate, establish strong relationships, share ideas and knowledge, negotiate and inspire.

How newer technologies are making video conferencing more accessible

Re-post article from TheOlivePress.es

THE scientists at Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), an international organisation for physics research that gave birth to the World Wide Web, has gone beyond people’s expectations when it comes to video conferencing.

A single face to face meeting over the Internet in CERN may include hundreds of people. At over 300 video conferencing sessions a day, 20,000 CERN-affiliated scientists scattered in institutes all over the world are communicating with each other.

The huge scale and effectiveness of video conferencing at CERN indicates the great strides made in technology that has for years been out of reach for many organisations – the futuristic Holy Grail.

The market for corporate video conferencing seems to have finally exploded. Across diverse industries, from healthcare to higher education, video conferencing has gone from the stilted experience of a telephone with a screen, to become an integrated, smooth part of Internet communication that businesses are fast learning different ways to use.

Today, video conferencing users can enjoy the services on the go from their mobile devices, and jumping over the hurdles presented by different devices and systems as it continually transitions from hardware to software to cloud computing.

Worldwide, companies have spent around $2.6 billion on video conferencing network hardware and room systems – the figures do not include software or cloud services. Below is a look at the various options that are now available for organisation looking to implement video conferencing at the office or on the fly.

The Video Conferencing Room

Pricey and flashy room systems have long been common deployments of video conferencing systems in the workplace. Such setups are still part of the executive conference room – with huge flat screens, speaker and microphone devices on a table and a single video camera perched on the wall. The final price tag of such setup may run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Video room systems are extremely high quality. The quality of both video and audio combine to offer the impression that all participants are in a single room. The two basic display types available for video conferencing are projectors or flat screens.

Projectors cover wider areas than the flat screen. However, you need to consider that glare from windows or overhead lighting may affect the image quality projected. In rooms that are too bright, the only solution is to use projectors with very high lumens, which are expensive and might not be economical in some companies. In addition, such projectors have loud fans, which may affect the audio quality of your online meeting. The alternative is flat plasma or LCD screens that work in evenly lit rooms.

The other solution is to put up dual monitors for high-production desktops. Dual monitors offer good quality video conferencing experience as they allow the host to put the agenda, shared items and videos on separate monitors. Additionally, using multiple monitors helps mimic the in-person meeting, or helps put more emphasis on the primary speaker.

The Software-Only

For companies with no interest in configuring video rooms or lack the budget to acquire the special equipment required, many services are now selling as software download. All that the user requires is a camera, microphone, speakers and a high-speed Internet connection – all these are available on smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktops.

Software-only video conferencing systems allow participants to participant in online experiences with others from any location worldwide. Users connect from work or home as long as they have an active Internet connection. The software downloaded can be used for recording podcast or vodcast and uploaded to a website for other team members to download the video later.

The Cloud-Based

In addition to video conferencing systems that rely solely on software or the end user’s hardware, the third model involves no download of software, but cloud computing. For example, the cloud-based Blue Jeans online conference service provides users with an instant scalable and easy platform.

With no hardware or software requirements, users get:

  • Instant deployment
  • Reduced IT costs since there are no in-house software or hardware to manage
  • A secure end-to-end connection for all cloud meetings
  • No expensive maintenance updates and contracts
  • Global distribution of architecture

Users can join an online meeting session using Web browsers on their computers or apps on their smartphones and tablets. Cloud Blue Jeans Online conference services are proving to be efficient, robust and cost-effective alternatives to premises based technologies. In addition, they help level the playing field between SMBs and large enterprises by making high-end communications technology affordable and accessible.

Now corporations can take advantage of the various video conferencing options available to get rich video interactions. They can benefit from hosted services and ultimately see a marked improvement in collaboration, increased productivity, enhanced business relationships that offer demonstrated ROI and improved business bottom line.

The benefits of audio visual in our children’s classrooms

Re-post article from Avtsolutions.co.za

The right audio visual setup in a classroom can not only drive better engagement with an ever more tech-savvy scholar, but can also assist teachers in preparing and delivering lessons more effectively. IWB’s (Interactive White Boards) combined with education focused software, the ability to integrate with BYODs (Bring Your Own Devices) such as tablets, laptops and video conferencing technologies are fast changing the audio visual effectiveness in classrooms.

Audio Visual Technology in education is something that is embraced in all our classrooms because the benefits are evident. The first benefit is that education becomes far more stimulating and interactive which encourages learning. The second advantage is that by exposing students to technology at a young age will help them gain valuable skills that they will utilise later on in life.

INTERACTIVE WHITE BOARD (IWB) – CREATE ENGAGING, INTERACTIVE LESSONS

IWB’s come in two variants; a short-throw projector together with a sensor, and a large LED touch displays. Although the projector based option is still more cost effective, changes in technology and cost are fast driving the movement away from projectors. These large LED touch displays are fast replacing projectors as the preferred display method as they are less affected by ambient light, are interactive through touch instead of motion sensors, and don’t have lamp issues.

An educator can create engaging lessons and can incorporate numerous items into a lesson plan such as websites, images and music that students can interact with, answer verbally or even write comments on the board itself. Image size and position can change with a touch to the screen. Imagine taking a class on a photo adventure around the world that includes sound and engagement.

Interactive Whiteboards in Education can help improve learning in education in the following ways:

  • They make it easier for educators to enhance their lesson content by easily integrating a wide range of material.
  • They allow teachers to create customised learning content quickly and easily.
  • They provide more stimulation and therefore help students to absorb information more easily.
  • They encourage learners to partake in group discussions by freeing them from note-taking.
  • When used for comprehensive testing of understanding for the class, they can offer learner feedback.

VIDEO CONFERENCING – ENABLE DISTANCE LEARNING THROUGH VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS

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With the ever-improving quality and speed of internet connections globally and in particular in South Africa, Video Conferencing has become an incredibly powerful tool in education at all levels through enhancing collaboration and creating virtual class rooms.

Being able to see and hear the teacher, as well as other students, in high quality together with the lesson material has a multitude of benefits:

  • Remote and rural areas can have access to high quality educators that are centrally located, reducing travel costs.
  • Specialist teachers can easily connect to classrooms located anywhere, improving the quality and accessibility of these resources.
  • Lessons can be recorded for future reference, as well as for learners that are unable to attend.
  • Teachers can be shared between schools, reducing costs and improving accessibility.

Our in-house professional Technicians are fully qualified to assist you with your Audio Visual Technology needs and are committed to giving first class, friendly, customer service and support.

AUDIO VISUAL TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION

An educator can create engaging lessons and can incorporate numerous items into a lesson plan.

INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARD

A short documentary showing how interactive technology, including Clevertouch Interactive Touchscreens, have aided learning.

Questions to Ask before Investing in Videoconferencing

Re-post article from Advancedav.com

Thanks to changes in modern technology, we’re constantly rethinking the way that we work. Options such as telecommuting, telework, and remote work are becoming increasingly common. Today, it’s not out of the norm to have employees, customers, and clients spread throughout the country—even across the globe—making collaboration solutions an important part of our workday.

Web conferencing is designed to expand our collective knowledge, streamline work processes, and give our businesses an edge in an increasingly competitive workplace. If you’re looking to invest in a videoconferencing system, there are a number of factors you should consider before you finalize a decision.

Should You Opt for a Cloud-Based or On-Site System?

Your first decision should be to determine whether a cloud-based or on-site solution works best for your organization. Consider these important factors, and the questions you should be asking yourself, to narrow down your choice.

Your company size. Is your company spread throughout the state? Across the country? Around the globe? Perhaps you are a small, highly localized enterprise? Will your provider be able to help you with issues that go beyond local dial-in numbers? What about language support? Bandwidth requirements? Or technical problems that could possibly occur in multiple time zones? Will there be rapid growth in the next few years? Having a cloud based system will allow for easy scalability, something you won’t get with an in-house system.

Your budget. It may be tempting to sign up for a free web-based solution, but have you considered the tradeoffs of doing “technology on the cheap?” As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you drastically cut costs, chances are you might be “cutting” consistency and quality as well.

Cloud-based solutions are attractive options; with lower upfront costs and less maintenance, companies are quickly moving in this direction. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. You may find that your company benefits from an in-house system. Generally, a business-based videoconferencing solution will benefit you if:

Privacy is paramount. If you’re in the health care or financial field, for example, you deal with sensitive client information every day. If that information gets compromised, there could be serious consequences.

You need to record conversations. No matter how much bandwidth you have, connections can sputter and peter out. If you need streamlined recordings of your conversations, and you need to keep them highly secured on an easily accessed on-site server, an in-house system may be right for you.

How Much Support Do You Have?

The amount of support you get from a third-party vendor is just as important as the quality of the system itself. No matter how sophisticated the system, issues are bound to arise, and your reputation and bottom line will suffer if you have to spend too much time off-line, trouble shooting problems.

Perhaps you’re running late on an important videoconference and need mobile support. How easily can you reach the company’s tech support? You need your product’s customer support service to be as flexible as you are.

Your support question should also extend to your information technology (IT) department. Is it well equipped to handle your in-house needs? If possible, schedule a trial of the technology before you commit to buying it. Taking a system for a test drive can help your IT personnel figure out if they’re prepared to take on the challenges ahead. If you don’t have the requisite level of IT support needed to maintain your in-house videoconferencing systems, consider outsourcing that responsibility to a qualified managed services provider.

A videoconferencing system is an investment that requires thoughtful consideration. There’s no standard solution—each company should tailor its system to address its unique set of needs. Choose a system that evolves with changing technology, not an operation that will be obsolete in a few years.

At Advanced AV we empower live meetings and remote collaboration by deploying the technology that helps your organization connect, communicate and engage with its customers, employees and stakeholders. Connect with us to find out more about how Advanced AV can help you achieve your business and technology goals.

How Large Organizations Use Videoconferencing

Re-post article by Blake McGee from Vyopta.com

Video collaboration professionals from large organizations participated in our mini survey a week ago (from industry verticals such as healthcare, higher education, oil & gas and technology).

The survey was conducted in order to gain valuable insights about the way large companies are using video. Participant job roles ranged from Business Analysts, UCC Designer/ Architects to “IT firefighters” including Unified Communications Managers, Videoconferencing Administrators and Video Systems Engineers. View some of the results in the infographic below.

90% of video collaboration professionals in this survey predict that utilization and adoption of video in their organizations will grow over the next 2 years. 50% of participants expect a video adoption growth rate greater than 50%

Many participants in the survey (75%) reported that they were either not sure or that their organization does NOT track UC / video collaboration initiatives with defined metrics. For Vyopta this is an interesting key takeaway, as part of our mission is to help organizations simplify the way they manage large collaboration networks.

Many organizations are expecting to grow their video adoption and utilization over the next 2 years and can begin to benefit from multivendor collaboration analytics that help them simplify management, improve quality and ROI and optimize their network for better performance. Check out the latest features added to our vAnalytics™ tool designed to help you get the most out of your organization’s video environment. vAnalytics™ is a “single pane of glass” platform that helps you track and measure your adoption and utilization goals.

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