The Difference Between a Virtual Audio Call and a Virtual Video Call?

Anyone who has been a part of an audio conference call will understand some of the shortcomings that come along with it. How can we eliminate or mitigate these shortcomings and provide a richer communications experience?

Does Rich Communication accelerate the velocity of collaboration?

Some communications technology tools will help us interact directly with others vs. simply having a passive connection. By identifying and using these tools, we can create stronger relationships between workers in different locations vs. creating isolation and loneliness.

Building Community Technology Platforms for Collaborative Ecosystems

Systems are providing an Open Architecture, which allows for different technologies to be tied together in ever more meaningful and seamless ways. Building a technology platform in your Collaboration Ecosystem requires an architectural design approach. It is imperative that this design provides a platform that is common to all stakeholders.

Increasing the Velocity of Collaboration in Your Organization

Once the user based, collaboration capability requirements are determined, then you can select what the technologies are for the meeting rooms and for the individuals connecting into conferences. This process is critical and avoids a lot of wasted efforts and brings a cohesive approach to the technology roadmap your organization requires. It helps turn the patchwork of technology found in most organizations into a tapestry of technology, which becomes an enabler to greater collaboration within the organization.

Conference Room Audio Visual Solutions are an Integral Part of a Well Executed UC&C Platform

The same best practices to implement UC&C holds true with audio visual room systems. Meeting rooms and spaces require a clear definition of what collaborative technology is required in the room to support four different conferencing technologies. But they need to support those technologies in relation to the UC platform deployed.

Conferencing Technology that Gives You the Biggest Bang for the Buck

buckIn the corporate world, people meet to discuss a subject, contribute their knowledge and agree to actions or outcomes. When one or more of the meeting participants is not present in the meeting room, the remote participants have to conference into the meeting. If there is no meeting room and all participants are joining from their own location, then the meeting is considered a virtual meeting.

To conference into a meeting or to hold a virtual meeting there are four different conferencing technologies which can be combined to suit the purpose of the meeting – Audio, Web, Video and Interactive Whiteboard (IWB).

Let’s breakdown that statement before we move on to the conferencing technologies.

First, it is important to distinguish the difference between conferencing into a meeting that is being held in a physical place with live participants and establishing a virtual meeting where no participants are in the same place. The first scenario extends a physical meeting to remote participants and the conferencing technologies are used to bring the remote participants into the meeting; the second scenario is often referred to as a virtual meeting and in this case there is NO physical meeting, the technology is bringing ALL the participants together into a ‘virtual’ meeting room.

Secondly, the type of meeting is also important in determining which conferencing technologies are needed to support the meeting. I like to think of things as not Black or White, but in terms of a continuum or scale and label the extreme ends of the scale.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.22.30 AMThe “Type of Meeting” scale would have “Highly Controlled” on one side of the scale and “Highly Collaborative” on the other end of the scale. The kind of meetings you have in your room(s) will fall somewhere on that scale and should dictate what technologies you will have in the room to support the meeting type(s). For most corporate rooms you want to have some flexibility in the room to accommodate the different meeting types and only specialize if the room is dedicated to meetings that are at either end of the scale.

You now need to combine the four conferencing technologies in such away that you strike an optimal balance of benefit/capability and cost – an ROI. I am not going to discuss the ROI here, but check here for a blog article on that topic.

Each one of the four conferencing technologies brings a dimension of richness to a meeting and each one can vary significantly depending on how it is designed and implemented.

With all four conferencing technologies you can get started on a pretty thin budget, especially with tools like Skype available for anyone to use for free. But there are limits to what you can do with the free tools and when the free tools start to cost you organizational time to manage or reflect badly on the image of your company, it’s time to up your game.

Audio is the table stakes conferencing technology – if you don’t have sound you don’t have a conference.  The other three conferencing technologies can be added to increase the ability to collaborate over distance for the participants.  Or, to say it more elegantly, to increase the Velocity of Collaboration – a term I picked up from Frost & Sullivan.

Web, Video and Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) conferencing all add a different dimension of richness to the meeting, but from my experience IWB can enrich a meeting more than the other conferencing technologies because it allows participants to collaborate at a deeper level, elevating communication to a deeper conversation.

Interestingly, the high ROI meetings are the highly collaborative meetings. This is where your organization can realize productivity or strategic benefit. These types of meetings can be stifled by experiences where the technology gets in the way or the technology does not deliver an experience that is rich enough for participants to communicate in a truly conversational manner.

For more information on the four conferencing technologies and how to assess your current room(s) download our free Guide.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Collaboration in Your Company

Boosting your collaborative capabilities does not have to be a huge investment. To be clear here, I am talking about real time or interactive collaboration which is a combination of 4 different conferencing technologies – audio, web, video and interactive whiteboards (IWB). There is a 3 pronged approach. Upgrading your collaborative experience does not have to be expensive and the returns can be huge. Putting in the right tools to support and enhance how you work together with people and increase your velocity of collaboration is paramount.

New Collaboration Tools That Fit Your Strategy

Collaboration is a hot word amongst the leading IT companies: companies like CISCO, IBM and SAP are all using ‘collaboration’ as a catch all word to describe the new ways that staff and customers can interact with each other. The word means slightly different things to each of these companies, but on the whole they describe both a physical, and virtual way that we can talk, share and interact with each other, which makes use of a variety of technologies.