It’s difficult to think of a business process or task that has been left untouched over the past decade by technological advancements, so it bears asking: What upgrades have you made to your company’s conference rooms?
Conferencing technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, transforming the static meetings we all loathe into collaborative, dynamic meetings that foster creativity and productivity. “There is a whole new generation of group video conferencing solutions that deliver richer experience, ease of use, and far more advanced capabilities, such as RealPresence Group Series,” says Brian Phillips, senior product marketing manager for Polycom. It’s vital that IT professionals help their companies realize these benefits, as collaboration and innovation are increasingly seen as business differentiators.
In no particular order, here are seven ways you can upgrade conferencing technology to bring meeting experiences into the 21st Century.
1. Enable users to share high quality, interactive content. Modern video conferencing solutions deliver full 1080p60. That’s better than BluRay, and far beyond what solution providers delivered just 10 years ago. While it’s important for meeting participants to be able to see a detailed Excel spreadsheet or standard PowerPoint slides, for example, this upgrade is particularly appealing in terms of the new use cases it presents. Industries like media and entertainment, where motion is critical to success, can share full motion video clips and animations in real time with participants on the other side of the country.
2. Give users easy, flexible control. Starting a video conference call these days can be as easy as walking into a room and tapping the “Join Meeting” button. No more dialing complex phone numbers. Solution providers have completely reimagined the conferencing interface so that it’s easier to use – and more likely to be used. They’ve changed the way people and content appear on the screen, and added simple and intuitive controls to ensure participants can be clearly seen at all times. In addition, the experience is consistent in each meeting room.
3. Reduce presence disparity. Advancements in audio help block distracting noises and outside voices to reduce presence disparity for everyone on a video call. For example, Polycom’s NoiseBlock blocks out non-human sounds like keyboard typing, rustling papers, or barking dogs. The technology mutes a noisy user’s microphone but immediately unmutes it if he/she begins talking. Acoustic Fence blocks noises from outside the meeting space from coming through so that remote participants can more clearly hear those on the call. These types of audio blocking technologies help participants focus on what’s important.
4. Replace video conferencing cameras. If resolution is the only criteria you’re evaluating when selecting video conferencing cameras, you’ll overlook other valuable features and benefits of visual collaboration. There are more features to consider beyond just the ability of a camera to focus on a little square with 10 heads at the end of the table. Modern cameras can deliver close-up views of each person as they speak during the meeting, regardless of their position. They can also cut between participants in a room without going to a group shot in between. The ability to clearly see facial expressions and body language enables everyone on the call to communicate more effectively, and enjoy a more personable meeting experience.
5. Deliver deep integration with Skype for Business. According to Brian Phillips, deep integration with Skype for Business is the No. 1 reason why organizations are upgrading their conferencing technology. However, Phillips warns, “Everyone claims interoperability, but there’s a huge and distinctive difference between being interoperable and having deep integration.”
Deep integration means that the core technology is built right into the conferencing platform. Users can call directly into Skype for Business with the appropriate protocols with no translation needed in the middle. It’s easy and intuitive for users, and simpler for IT to deploy and manage.
6. Achieve true return on investment (ROI) measurement. Previously, to determine ROI on conferencing technology, organizations had to count meeting room locations and estimate how many people used each one. Today’s conferencing technology enables you to accurately track and measure utilization of your conference rooms. You get real metrics to calculate accurate return on investment (ROI) – no cobbled together spreadsheet required.
7. Allow users to take video anywhere. The proliferation of camera-equipped mobile devices has empowered collaboration technology providers to develop the software to bring video conferencing to the palm of your hand. A simple app download and registration to an enterprise system means that users can take high quality video collaboration outside of traditional conference rooms. Between personal, mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets and immobile conference rooms are video collaboration solutions deployed on kiosks, manufacturing floors, medical facilities, natural disaster areas, etc.
Taken together, these seven upgrades enable meeting participants to engage more meaningfully regardless of whether they’re in a conference room onsite, in a coffee shop on the other side of the world, or in a satellite office. Time spent in meetings is more productive for everyone. But perhaps even more important is the quality of the meeting outcomes, as participants engage in true collaboration and innovation that help drive the business forward.