At Polycom we’re a bit spoiled. We have so many stellar solutions to choose from when joining a conference call. Typically, people fall into the habit of using one or two solutions and don’t venture into new territory. As someone who has worked from home exclusively for my entire Polycom career (six years), RealPresence Desktop is my daily go-to. I can connect to my colleagues, share content, and collaborate straight from my laptop.
Despite our committed relationship, I decided it was time to expand my horizons and try out another one of the many Polycom solutions available to me. Enter RealConnect for Skype for business. My mission? Use it solely for a week and report on my findings.
From the very beginning, RealConnect made things easy for me. To schedule meetings, I simply had to go into my Outlook and click the handy “Skype Meeting” button. With that simple button click, all the necessary links and phone numbers automatically populated in the invite. No need to go searching for VMR (video meeting room) numbers or dial-in details. I was impressed.
When it came time to actually attend the meeting, that part was smooth and simple too. I made sure I was logged into my Skype for Business account and then clicked on the “Join Skype Meeting” link in the invite. Success!
My internal communications colleagues were willing participants as we tested all the usual features—sharing content, audio and video, muting, etc. (see below!)
The collective consensus was how easy RealConnect was to use. From scheduling, to joining, to collaborating within the meeting, it was all a cinch. Multitasking was also super easy and convenient (I will admit to this!) as when you click out of the meeting into a browser, Outlook, or anywhere else, a mini version of the RealConnect meeting pops up to the forefront so you can always see it. The content sharing experience was similar to when you share content via Skype for Business, so no surprises there. And Skype for Business made it easy to message links to each other directly in the meeting. We were COMPLETELY connected, and it worked!
For testing purposes, I joined one meeting using the Skype for Business app on my iPhone 6 Plus. That was stellar too. I was able to see my team on video, and was even able to share iCloud drive content via my phone. Impressive!
A colleague tested using RealConnect on her home Mac, and even that worked. She was prompted to download a Skype for Business browser plugin and install, but that took just a few minutes and she was then able to join the meeting just like everyone else.
According to my colleague in the Austin office, RealConnect looked just like a regular Polycom call except the video boxes were a bit smaller when dialing from a RealPresence Group Series (see below). It was also easy to dial into.
The only downside we ever experienced was due to what I mentioned earlier—we are spoiled with many solutions that provide exceptional video and audio quality. The quality on the RealConnect calls was comparable to a Skype or Facetime call, which as we all know gets the job done. But it wasn’t quite as crisp and clear as using something like RealPresence Desktop or RealPresence Group Series.
Overall, I was very impressed and have found a new go-to solution to schedule any calls that involve participants outside of Polycom. Not going to lie though, I do still love my RealPresence Desktop and don’t plan to break up anytime soon!