We’ve considered before what we might mean by video mobility but a supplementary question might be why should people care about it?
The reality is that mobile collaboration tools are already in the workplace. That ever-present smartphone pinging you with new email and text message alerts is already enabling you to operate and collaborate no matter what your location. The current generation of people entering the workplace for the first time have spent the last few years of their education with access to all types of smart devices. In fact, in a recent report by Ericsson (www.ericsson.com/ericsson-mobility-report) they identified that video traffic in 2013 accounted for around 35% of total mobile data traffic, but this number is expected to grow to more than 50% by 2019. Whilst this statistic covers all types of video (real time and streaming) it highlights that users are extremely comfortable with accessing and viewing video on mobile devices. Add in the familiarity of users today with consumer based video chat tools and it is natural that they will expect the same kind of instantly available, rich media collaboration tools in the workplace.
This comfort factor with video collaboration and the ability to liberate it from being confined to a conference room is also reflected in the benefits that people are seeing from it. In the past people would talk specifically about having a video conference - the use of the word “conference” automatically gets you thinking about a formal meeting, internal to an organisation, between traditional boardrooms and conference rooms. That was how video communications was originally implemented, and the vast majority of benefits focused on cost savings, typically through a reduction in travel expenditure. But now the ability to deliver video to just about any device (IP phone, desktop, smart device) means that people are now collaborating rather than conferencing, and the benefits being seen are evolving in a similar way. Customers are now using video collaboration in business for topics as wide ranging as online buying, disaster recovery / business continuity and even remote inspection. A recent survey conducted by Polycom and the industry analyst Wainhouse Research (www.polycom.asia/video-collaboration/benefits.html) showed that 94% of respondents were using collaboration for productivity and efficiency gains.
The wide ranging benefits that video collaboration delivers, plus the almost mandatory demand for these tools across all devices by the latest generation of workers, means that organisations need to be considering how they implement this within their organisation if they haven’t already. The top three things I would recommend any organisation to do as they start on this journey of mobile collaboration would be as follows:
Identify your use cases and user base: Learn who or which processes in your organisation will benefit from video collaboration the most. This will help identify what the most productive and cost-effective collaboration solutions will be. Find out which employees are involved in these processes and need to communicate with, from where, and how often, to establish the basic framework for collaboration within your workforce.
Identify the most suitable types of mobile devices: A one-size fits all strategy for devices outside the conference room may not be suitable across all business functions. For instance, a teleworker may require a higher quality desktop solution, such as a video-enabled desk phone or laptop, whereas for a salesperson who is constantly on the move, a mobile or tablet device with a video application may be the right way.
Analyse network requirements: Will users be on-net or off-net? Will they be coming in over a VPN or in the clear across the internet? Answers to these kinds of questions will help determine the firewall strategy to implement video collaboration, along with any associated security requirements such as encryption.
Video collaboration, both fixed and mobile, delivers real benefits to all types of organisations and is rapidly becoming a “must have” for any workforce. A little bit of forethought and initial planning can go a long way to help ensure that a video roll out is smooth, and delivers immediate benefits.