By Jeremy Keefe, Area Sales Vice President - UK, Ireland and Benelux, Polycom
You are a modern day worker who enjoys being mobile so you can work from different locations and believe in flexible working as it allows you to be productive. Yet every time you manage to secure yourself a meeting room often it feels like you have walked into a blank space which can definitely do better with a little more hint of technology.
While most workers have moved on, some employers are still trying to catch-up but there is no respite with the rising cost of real estate and inflation hammering down on the economy. Businesses are aware that their workforce is battling time zones every day and it is time they gear up for 2017 by thinking about the types of meeting rooms their workforce requires for delivering the good work while being mobile and flexible.
As a regular participant of meetings, there are several different types of meeting styles that I see frequently.
Type 1 – Meeting room for an in-person discussion:
Mind the word ‘discussion’ here. This is the most common type of meeting room that will be needed as while conducting business across borders is becoming more common some 1-2-1 chats still need to take place. These are often the meetings that kick off a partnership or significant reviews and are the catalysts for driving the next type of meeting room requirements as they often lead to the need for sharing information or for third party participation.
Type 2 – Meeting room for sharing content:
This type of meeting room will attract the most traffic across all groups whether they have two, a few more or a fairly large number of participants. Sharing content in the format of documents such as PowerPoint presentations is not uncommon and it is important to have the right content sharing software solution that is easy to use.
Type 3 – Meeting room for an audio call:
Audio is the backbone of all meetings and the most common way of conducting meetings. Also, it is quite obvious that without proper audio you cannot have a video meeting. A popular means for both booked and ad hoc meetings, more than often you will need to ring someone on their phone for work. Whether it’s on fixed line, mobile, conference phone or Skype for Business, audio-only meetings are essential.
Type 4 – Meeting room for a video call:
You cannot attend all meetings in person at all times, and as more and more people are working from home nowadays, video is becoming an essential part of the day-to-day work. We still believe face-to-face meetings are essential in a working life and therefore travel is still a part of it. If you cannot travel but still want to make the meeting more impactful, you need to attend it on video. Video meetings are important and this is a no-brainer for the digital time we live in today. The benefits felt from video meetings can range from not needing to travel great distances, to being able to get home in time for dinner with the family.
Type 5 – Meeting room for working from anywhere:
Work From Anywhere – a new way of working that doesn’t require you to work from one set location. A small meeting space or a ‘huddle room’ can cater to the needs of workers when they are visiting one of their office sites or any other location. All the other pieces of technology listed above will enable them to find the right meeting space when needed. In addition, software solutions that allow collaboration from the devices of their choice will empower them to work from anywhere.
When I heard the news about Facebook’s new venture – Workplace – I was glad to see that another technology company is listening to what employees really want. Facebook seems to have really grasped the way people want to communicate with their colleagues. In day-to-day life we don’t sit in the same spot all day to liaise with our family and friends – we see them, speak to them, and message them (on the move or face-to-face). Why should the workplace be any different?
As Facebook describes it: “The new global and mobile workplace isn’t about closed-door meetings or keeping people separated by title, department, or geography. Organisations are stronger and more productive when everyone comes together.”
Social media has drastically changed the way we communicate and maintain relationships with one another in our personal lives, so it was inevitable that this style of interaction would eventually creep into our work lives too. We are now constantly connected and the pace of business is quickening, so it’s crucial for work teams to be agile. Any tool that improves communication across levels of seniority, departments, or even continents, is going to be beneficial to an organisation.
Being able to collaborate with my team, wherever I am, is vital to me. I can’t always be creative and resolve problems when I am stuck behind a desk on my own, and it’s not like I just switch off from my work the minute the clock hits 6pm, or when I’m away from the office. I’m lucky that at Polycom I have the option, thanks to the technology we have, to collaborate and share new ideas where and when it suits me. I don’t have to waste time sending thousands of emails – with just one click I can join a group video meeting with my team and instantly share any bright new ideas I have.
Business communication technology is a vibrant space right now, and Facebook’s Workplace will be a great addition to the mix. The modern workforce is becoming increasingly spoiled when it comes to integrated collaboration solutions, because there is now technology that can enable almost every type of interaction.
For example, for more complex communications – such as creative brainstorms – you have the RealPresence Centro, which allows quality group collaboration. Important business calls can rely on high-quality video and audio technology to ensure there are no hiccups or background noise, while global teams can feel closer together with content collaboration tools.
Facebook’s Workplace will certainly assist in team collaboration, but it’s just another piece of the jigsaw puzzle of creating a truly collaborative working environment. As the world becomes a smaller place, and flexible working continues to grow, it’s important that organisations integrate a variety of technologies to keep teams genuinely connected.
Guest Blog: Ray McGroarty, EMEA Director, Industry Solutions and Market Development
Financial Services is a fast-moving sector where new decisions about the most valued commodity – money - are made with every passing second. Having a collaborative workforce that is driven towards improving business productivity and speed of decision-making is therefore pivotal to the success of any financial services company as well as their customers. The right mix of workplace collaboration tools can not only improve engagement internally between the various departments of a geographically dispersed financial service workforce, but also externally between internal departments and their suppliers and customers. This allows the workforce to be more agile and productive and in turn promotes flexible working.
The applications, devices and workspaces used to conduct business in financial services have evolved from being consolidated, homogenous and predictable to being fragmented, heterogeneous and spontaneous. The workforce is more dispersed and mobile, and business is conducted from almost any location and at any time. This is leading to an increase in the demand for workplace technology that enables borderless collaboration and improves the speed of the decision-making process for businesses within the financial services sector.
The five pillars of financial services
With the advances in technology, the ways in which customers access information supplied by their financial services providers have also changed. For example, customers can easily access their banking information or details of a payment they made using their mobile phone or computer, eliminating the need to physically visit a bank. Within the workforce, there is a growing need for mobility and access to services that do not compromise expert face-to-face interaction for the internal teams. When it comes to external communications with partners or customers, business workflows need to be able to provide the same functionality conveniently as during such meetings there is often a need to discuss documents, applications and approvals. To do this, we need audio-visual interaction along with content sharing ability. Audio-visual interactions enable customers to understand clearly as they can read the gestures and body language too, and ask questions in real-time, discuss concerns, share documents through content-sharing solutions and obtain spontaneous feedback where possible. This speeds up the decision-making process for the financial services firm without compromising on customer satisfaction.
Agility and Flexibility
Financial service companies need to be agile to be able to search and hire new talent – currently there is a struggle to attract the best talent and make hiring decisions promptly. Utilising video collaboration for talent acquisition, on-boarding new employees and providing learning and development opportunities helps improve employee engagement, communication, as well as the reach of corporate initiatives. Additionally, financial service organisations need to offer flexibility to work, flexible locations and training.
The challenge around creativity is how to synchronise to ensure work and efforts are not being duplicated and that the creativity is shared – whilst this is often conducted through email, video proves to be efficient and there is a better understanding when employees are able to see and discuss in real time. It’s not always possible to meet every day so video solutions enable a financial service company to collaborate effectively.
To evolve as a business, visual interaction, especially when it’s an interesting higher-value transaction, is desired to put the face back into the heart of financial services. When making important decisions, it is vital that decision-makers feel confident and can trust that their financial services advisor is making the right choices. Millennials are reluctant to engage with big banks, they have current accounts, credit cards, but they aren’t investing their money in the same way as their parents’ generation. The financial services sector needs to start attracting this generation if they are to drive value from these customers. There are also wider economic implications for the financial services sector and the UK market as a whole if they can’t rebuild that trust and encourage the public to engage again.
Facilitating convenient access to specialist advisors through video collaboration, and making those digital appointments as valuable as their in-person counterparts through real-time content collaboration solutions, allows customer advisors to cross-sell, up-sell and improve the overall business efficiency. To learn more about the changing face of financial services and how you can achieve collaborative financial services to gain competitive advantage please join me and FinTech expert Mike Baliman on the 5th May at 10am BST by registering here and join the #FaceOfFinance twitter hashtag to join the full conversation.
If you are unable to make the webinar you can always download the full version of our new free whitepaper which will give you access to a new, exclusive video detailing what should be top of mind for leading financial services institutions to remain competitive.
Sechs große Technologie-Trends lassen sich identifizieren, die unsere Arbeitswelt branchenübergreifend von der Fertigung über den Banken- und Gesundheitssektor bis hin zum Bildungswesen beeinflussen werden.
Der "Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft" wird heute in vielen Unternehmen bereits gelebt. Mobiles Arbeiten von überall her, Zusammenarbeit im Team über zeitliche und örtliche Grenzen hinweg, steigende Flexibilität bezüglich Arbeitszeit und -Ort - das ist für viele Mitarbeiter weltweit bereits Realität. Um den Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft allerdings tatsächlich in einen produktiven Ort verwandeln zu können, brauchen Unternehmen die richtigen Werkzeuge. Welche Entwicklungen müssen sie im Blick behalten, um den Anschluss nicht zu verpassen?
Mobility wird zur Super Mobility
Bezeichnete "Arbeit" früher primär einen Ort, an den wir gingen, steht der Begriff heute vielmehr für die Tätigkeit - unabhängig von Zeit, Ort und Endgerät. Herkömmliche Büros und Besprechungsräume weichen deshalb offenen Arbeitsräumen und mobilen Lösungen, die ein effektives Arbeiten zulassen. Laut den Analysten von IDC nutzen 2015 bereits 1,3 Milliarden Menschen weltweit mobile Technologien zum mobilen Arbeiten beziehungsweise für das Home Office. Und Smartphones und Tablets machen 40 Prozent des gesamten IT-Wachstums aus. Rund 87 Prozent der Unternehmen haben bereits eine Strategie für Mobilität und mobile Geräte eingeführt, wobei sieben von zehn Unternehmen damit kämpfen, mit der rasenden Entwicklung im mobilen Bereich Schritt zu halten.
Computer im traditionellen Sinn werden am Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft nur noch eine geringe Rolle spielen. Telearbeit beziehungsweise mobiles Arbeiten wird zunehmend zum Standard und mobile Geräte damit immer mehr zum voll ausgestatteten Mini-Computer mit einer Vielzahl an Funktionen für den Arbeitseinsatz. Unternehmen sollten darauf hinarbeiten, ihren Mitarbeitern Technologien für ihre mobilen Geräte zur Verfügung zu stellen, mit denen sie produktiv und einfach zusammenarbeiten können - beispielsweise durch Integration in die Video-Kommunikation des Unternehmens und mit Lösungen, die Content Sharing und Content-Bearbeitung ermöglichen. Entscheidend ist dabei laut Sir Cary Cooper, Professor für Organisationspsychologie und Gesundheit an der Manchester Business School: Die Lösungen müssen bedienungsfreundlich sein, damit der Anwender sie problemlos einsetzen kann und das Potenzial der Investition voll ausgeschöpft wird. Ideal sind Lösungen mit intuitiven Benutzeroberflächen, die auf offenen Standards basieren und so eine barrierefreie Kommunikation auch mit Anwendern ermöglichen, die Systeme anderer Hersteller verwenden.
Collaboration Tools überwinden globale Grenzen
Stärker als jemals zuvor arbeiten Unternehmen über zeitliche, räumliche und kulturelle Grenzen hinweg global zusammen - mit ihren global verteilten Tochterunternehmen, Partnern, Zulieferern und Kunden. Damit diese Art der weltweiten Zusammenarbeit funktioniert, sind effektive Collaboration Tools erforderlich, die für jeden Geschäfts- und Aufgabenbereich speziell zugeschnittene Lösungen bieten: Während HR-Abteilungen vermehrt Bewerbungs- und Mitarbeitergespräche über Video führen oder damit schneller und kostengünstiger Schulungen durchführen , kann in der Produktentwicklung mit neuen Technologien die Go-to-Market-Zeit reduziert werden. Dienstleister kommunizieren damit zukünftig besser mit externen Kunden und Partnern - beispielsweise, indem ein Versicherungsberater vor Ort einfach und schnell einen Experten für einen bestimmtem Bereich auf seinem Tablet per Video zuschalten kann. In der Fertigung werden die Technologien verstärkt eingesetzt, um Fernwartungen oder Fern-Qualitätskontrollen durchzuführen. Für alle Einsatz-Szenarien gilt: Video, Voice und Content Sharing in Unternehmensqualität sind gefragter denn je und Distanzen werden zukünftig eine geringere Rolle spielen.
Die Cloud setzt sich in der Kommunikation durch
Cloud Lösungen sind als Trend schon längst in aller Munde. Die Cloud hat auch den Kommunikationsbereich erreicht und wird dazu beitragen, dass sich dieser in den nächsten Jahren rapide verändert. Ein Großteil der Diskussion rund um die Cloud wird sich darum drehen, welche spezifischen Anforderungen Unternehmen und Mitarbeiter an die Lösungen haben. Video Collaboration in Echtzeit bzw. Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) wird dabei ohne Zweifel eine der Lösungen sein, die Mitarbeiter fordern.
VaaS-Angebote aus der Cloud, welche Anwender von jedem Gerät aus abrufen können, gibt es bereits. Der Vorteil: Sie sind auch für jedes kleine oder mittelständische Unternehmen zugänglich und flexibel anpassbar. Zudem entstehen weniger Kosten, denn teure Investitionen in eine Hardware entfallen und nur bei Nutzung wird auch abgerechnet. Bereitgestellt werden Videoservices von Service Providern und zwar schnell, zuverlässig und vor allem sicher, über unterschiedlichste Plattformen, Netzwerke und Endgeräte. Eine Entscheidung, die sich auszahlt. Und was kommt als nächstes? Auf jeden Fall offene, standardbasierte Lösungen, welche sich sicher mit der Cloud verbinden lassen. Darüber hinaus wird die Cloud Unternehmen dabei unterstützen, via Fernüberwachung zu kontrollieren, wie gut die Rechenzentren arbeiten und wie häufig Video, Voice und Content Collaboration-Lösungen im Einsatz sind.
Endgeräte werden noch intelligenter
IDC kommt zu dem Ergebnis, dass aufgrund der enormen Zunahme an smarten Wearables, Haushaltsgeräten und medizinischen Geräten, zukünftig auch die Ausgaben hinsichtlich solcher intelligenter und kollaborierender Produkte steigen werden. Und all diese Endgeräte werden in den nächsten Jahren nicht nur miteinander verbunden sein, sondern auch untereinander kommunizieren können.
Um allerdings eine Interaktion zwischen den Geräten zu ermöglichen, müssen diese mit einer gewissen "Intelligenz" ausgestattet sein, um tatsächlich kollaborierend "handeln" zu können. Weiterentwickelte Media Management Lösungen können bereits genau das, indem diese Inhalte mit einer intelligenten Sprach-Text-Transkription erfassen, verwalten und präsentieren. Darüber hinaus können diese Meta-Daten markieren und sind mit einer Suchfunktion ausgestattet, so dass alle Personen sofort wissen, wo die entsprechenden Daten abgelegt sind. Und darüber hinaus interagieren nicht nur Endgeräte untereinander, sondern Endgeräte kollaborieren mit Collaboration-Tools in Unternehmen, und verschmelzen miteinander. Meetings können so gestartet werden, Content geteilt, Musik gehört werden etc.
Big, Bigger, Big Data
Big Data ist nach wie vor das Thema der Gegenwart - und wird auch in Zukunft weiterhin in allen Trend-Listen vertreten sein, vor allem, wenn es darum geht, wie mit Big Data die Zusammenarbeit verbessert und die Produktivität gesteigert werden kann. Laut IDC werden sich in diesem Jahr die Datenmengen verdreifachen, vor allem hinsichtlich Bild- und Videodateien. Denn diese wurden von Unternehmen gerade "neu entdeckt", um hieraus mehr über ihre Kunden zu erfahren. Große Videoanalyseplattformen werden deshalb zukünftig dazu beitragen, das Angebot an unstrukturierten Daten zu überbrücken, hin zu strukturierten Erkenntnissen - um so Business Intelligence zu ermöglichen.
Intelligentes Content-Finding, basierend auf Analysen, wird die Entwicklung zunehmend mitbestimmen. Durch die Arbeit mit Metadaten und intelligentem Tagging-Content kann jedes Meeting und jedes kollaborative Erlebnis aufgezeichnet werden und für eine Sprache-zu-Text-Übersetzung aktiviert werden - so kann suchbarer Content erstellt werden. Dieser Content kann anschließend für jeden verfügbar sein, der innerhalb eines Gesprächs oder innerhalb einer Präsentation nach spezifischen Details sucht. Fazit daraus: Ein Gespräch muss nicht mehr stundenlang angehört oder eine Videoaufnahme angesehen werden. Das geht nicht nur sehr viel schneller, sondern ist auch effektiver.
Um Collaboration vorantreiben und an sich wandelnde Bedürfnisse anpassen zu können, muss die Programmierung flexible handhabbar sein. Der Trend geht seit einiger Zeit hin zu offenen Standards. Aber mittlerweile hat sich die Erkenntnis durchgesetzt, dass nicht alle offenen Standards gleich sind. Viele Unternehmen verwenden standardbasierte Technologien, die jedoch keine breit angelegte Collaboration ermöglichen. Anbieter wie Polycom setzen auf sogenannte "Open Standards". Diese erlauben es Entwicklern, mit einem offenen Toolkit und offenen Programmierschnittstellen neue Collaboration-Lösungen zu integrieren, um einen Videocall zu starten oder direkt mit salesforce.com ein Meeting im Kalender zu erstellen.
I recently took part in a Q&A with one of our UK&I partners, Videocall, in support of their campaign on ‘Whether the perfect office environment exists?”
It was a good opportunity to get my thoughts down on paper; I found it an interesting exercise! Below you can find a taster of what we talked about. You can also see the full Q&A here.
How do you see the employees of the future working?
83% of enterprise employees around the world already use video conferencing solutions at home today, and 56% of business leaders and managers expect video to be their most preferred collaboration tool in 2016. That means that the employees of the future will be communicating over video, there’s no doubt about it. I for one hope that video collaboration eliminates the convoluted email trail. Imagine how much more we would all achieve if we didn’t have to trawl through an inbox!
Within ten years distance will become largely irrelevant. We will work in a location agnostic way, fitting our work around our lives and responsibilities, not the other way round. I look forward to the diversity this will bring to the workforce as we make it easier for parents, carers or those with specific needs to work in a way that benefits both them and their employer.
What will happen to the office of the future?
The office will continue to exist, but the face of it will change. Offices will be more flexible, with different spaces for different kinds of collaboration. Work will become something we do, not a place we go. The office will take on a new vibrancy as a creative collaboration hub rather than somewhere we pass the hours from nine till five. There will still be a need for some office space, as some people prefer to work this way, but it will be more suited to employee needs. That might mean more ‘watercooler’ areas that foster the casual conversation that leads to a ‘eureka’ moment; these will become what we call huddle spaces, equipped with voice, video and content collaboration for impromptu sessions.
Could you describe the perfect office environment? Does it exist?
The perfect office environment is whatever best suits the needs of your business and your employees. In my opinion that is always going to be a shifting set of goalposts, so having an office that is flexible and scalable is the perfect solution. Creating offices in the cloud is a way to achieve this, with Polycom Virtual Meeting Rooms you can enable your employees to collaborate without physically building any more space. These VMRs can be increased and decreased both in size and number as the need changes.
So the week of 5th October was exactly as I described it in a recent EMEA Town Hall – a huge week for all of us at Polycom! I started the beginning of my week at our bi-annual offsite with the EMEA Sales Leadership Team – using that time to brainstorm ideas, meditate (yes you heard me) and to review progress on my all-important EMEA plan both this year and into next year.
Then the 25th anniversary celebrations began. On the Wednesday evening (EMEA time) Peter Leav kicked off the first event in NYC marking the start of our 25 hour product launch and celebration. It was at this event that Peter, Michael Frendo and Ashan Willy unveiled truly game changing products for us at Polycom. Once NYC had started proceedings, to mark the occasion and to provide the link between the different sites, we passed the ‘25th Anniversary Time Capsule (Time Capsule)’ through each event.
Moving through APAC, and then onto EMEA, when it was our turn there was a real buzz in the air from not only our partners and customers but also employees too. Moscow marked the start of the celebrations in EMEA after meeting with the team in India to receive the Time Capsule. There, the local team celebrated before handing over the Time Capsule to Paris. In Paris, they celebrated in true style, with customers and partners enjoying live music and 25 ‘Gateau’.
The Munich customer and partner event was up next, in which we all enjoyed seeing the local team dressing up in traditional Bavarian outfits to mark the occasion. When it was London’s turn to take over proceedings, I had the ‘pleasure’ of accepting the Time Capsule from Jens Bauer, our ASVP for Central Europe who had truly got into the swing of things and was wearing his lederhosen!
Our launch event in London gave all our employees outside those regions the opportunity to hear the unveiling of our new solutions EMEA style, and we also invited along a special guest panel including UK analyst house MZA, and two customers to add a third party dimension to our the story.
The panel, including, one seasoned video user from the Royal College of Music - talked about how they had used video since 2003 and were now pushing the boundaries and using video for their actual performances. Our other customer panelist, Pearson, is a new customer who is implementing the ‘future workplace’ right now. A toast from me and an extra item for the time capsule (a Welsh rugby shirt – courtesy of Jeremy Keefe, ASVP for UK&I and Benelux) later, signified the end of the EMEA leg before moving back to the US and back round to where we started in NYC.
It was a day of firsts for us at Polycom. Not least attempting a 25 hour launch, it also meant for the first time we are able to offer to our customers a depth and breadth of new solutions, regardless of business size, sector or budget, and this is something we have never been able to do before.
For Polycom and me personally, it is an extremely exciting time, as the new solutions make us even more compelling to potential and existing customers. As work has drastically changed from a place we go to, into something people do, the office of the future is about ‘people’ and our latest solutions will simply enable people to collaborate more effectively across a broader array of workspaces. So, here is to the next chapter and the exciting things it will bring.
Today marks the end of my first six months at Polycom. With two tough but rewarding quarters under our belts, this month brings me yet another mountain to climb. The real kind… my team and I embarked on this challenge four years ago when I was at Motorola and over the past four years we have conquered Mont Blanc and Mount Elbrus. This time we are climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of the charity Young Minds at the end of July with Everest slated next!
The climate has been tough these past few months; however one thing that is clear is that we are reaching a tipping point in the market, with customers understanding how technologies like ours can bring more to the party than just travel savings.
I have been waxing lyrical about Polycom enabling the workplace of the future, the need to offer employees flexibility, and the ability to talk to each other naturally, regardless of where they happen to be.
The Pew Research Center released a study today on Americans’ internet usage, and the outlook for visionaries championing the workplace of the future is so far, so good.
The non-partisan think tank based their review, titled, Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015, on 15 years-worth of data taken from 97 national surveys, and 229,000 interviews with members of the general public. The findings detail a closing of class, age, ethnic, and community gaps with regard to how much time users are spending online.
Particularly prominent was the spike in internet use by young adults, also known as members of the workplace of the future.
“In 2000,” reports the Center, “70% of young adults used the internet and that figure has steadily grown to 96% today.”
That means the status distinction between offline and online is continuously growing opaque. Future associates won’t ask if their colleagues are connected to the web; they’ll expect the lack of disconnect, and the intuitive question moving forward will begin with “how”: how are you connecting with your partners, customers, and internal network?
Fortunately, Polycom has heeded this shift in mindset by preparing for the collaborative future the workforce is heading full-speed ahead to. According to a study Polycom conducted with Aragon called, Six Game-Changing Trends Driving the Collaborative Workplace of the Future, the workplace of the future will rely tools that work in tandem with the information highway.
A few of those connective tools include mobile devices and apps, social networks, the cloud, and video collaboration like virtual video meetings. Most notable may be that last one, video collaboration, which not only provides logistical support in the workplace, but creates the strong bonds that foster both profitable and prolific teamwork.
“When people seem physically close,” says the Aragon study, “others may feel that they are psychologically close as well. This can break down boundaries, promote trust and improve learning, collaboration and negotiation. Human interactions can change under the influence of video.”
With increasing reminders from studies like the exemplied Aragon and Pew research efforts, and even our own daily experiences with workplace mobility, it's clear that the limits of social and professional networks and their means are boundless. Luckily, it's not too late to understand that preparing for the workplace of the future is critical. It's easier than ever to get your hands on options that defy distance.
Use your web savvy to defy distance and talk about options with your Polycom representative, or review your Workplace of the Future tools now with a live demonstration.
On Wednesday 27th May, I hosted a packed Immersive Studio in London, full of European media and analysts, met with our colleagues and press across the pond to talk and see first-hand the ‘workplace of the future’.
The event hosted by our Execs in NYC – Jeff Rodman, Michael Frendo and Ashan Willy talked about Polycom’s past, present and future. It is very clear it is an exciting time at Polycom – celebrating our birthday and past innovations this year, and as part of the presentation … we were able to get a glimpse of what the future will look like, when we start to bring our new and exciting innovations to market throughout H2.
For me, what stood out, and really hit home is how unique our offering is to some of the vertical sectors represented in the customer panel. This was demonstrated throughout the commentary provided by five of our customers. Each took time out of their schedules to join us (in person and virtually) to share their experiences of how Polycom Solutions enhance their way of working and alternatively affect their own customers.
Two things that were repeatedly mentioned was how ‘the quality of HD voice’ was critical to the Manhattan School of Music’s ability to offer countless distance learning music and dramatic arts sessions across the globe… and ‘how the quality of HD vision’ was of a clinical standard, echoed by Veronica Southern, Teleswallowing consultant, ‘to the point it feels like you are in the room with the patient meaning you can provide a diagnosis in half the time, using half the resource and equally providing that valuable care to your grandmother or great uncle Keith’.
Hearing about how video can impact people’s lives outside the office environment, really shows how powerful our solutions are – you perhaps as an individual would quite possibility feel uneasy if your doctor asked you to connect via a consumer video app to undertake a complex diagnosis… however through using a business grade video solution like Polycom, there is the added security, and the HD experience that immediately puts you at ease. It also shows that the moment we move away from a more traditional pitch that focuses on travel savings, to showing how organizations can use our technology to evolve their processes for the better, the return is more impactful – going vertical is the way forward.
I see this event as just the beginning, as our customers were eager as part of this session to exchange stories and best practice – and this is something I want to actively encourage the team to do here in EMEA.
One thing is clear to me, the workplace of the future is already here; we have customers using our technology in innovative and exciting ways, all having a positive impact on their businesses and customers in turn. We just need more like them!
Despite advances in technology often bringing business costs down, IT investment always requires justification. With communications in particular, the challenge is tougher as there are knock on costs, such as further investment being required in infrastructure to support the changes or significant impact on user behaviour that requires training and perhaps updated HR policies.
Video conferencing is a case in point. Businesses may well believe that the value not only from reducing travel or benefitting the environment, but also from improved productivity and responsiveness to customers, is worth it. But they will still need to be sure that they are taking the right investment decisions, especially when they start out on a new installation.
Quocirca's 2014 worldwideresearch project surveying over 800 current business video conferencing users, makes it clear that while most companies believe that they have been getting good value from their investment in video, it still has to be regularly justified. In an age where many believe consumer technology is 'good enough', making this justification at the start of the project is even harder.
I asked Roger Farnsworth, a senior director of services from Polycom, the sponsors of the research, what he hears about the value of video conferencing on a daily basis from talking to those who are starting out on the journey.
Rob:Video collaboration solutions are expensive compared to some well-known free tools - where does the extra value come from?
Roger: Generally it boils down to three things - quality, security and choice. Most organisations wouldn't consider free security tools or phone systems, and it's for the same reason that they should invest in a video conferencing system. The quality of free, web-based software is often inferior to the full HD video you get from a specialist like Polycom. Investment in a specialised, more comprehensive solution delivers better audio and video quality that enhances the host company's brand.
Compliance is also a major consideration for enterprises; many are legally obliged to conform to data protection and privacy regulations. Paid-for systems aid them in this.
A dedicated video collaboration solution also allows for better integration into your specific workflows. This is partly because of its integration with standard enterprise tools such asMicrosoft Lync and also because it can be customised to suit your specific needs.
According to the research, the quality of the overall experience is an important factor for boosting adoption of video, and thus gaining greater overall benefits. Some of this was expected to come from having a more reliable system and improving infrastructure such as network availability, but higher definition video was also seen as important. Video experiences do not all have to be high end immersive telepresence, but decent quality does play a significant part in making employees more comfortable with using video.
Many employees will have experienced some challenges using early video systems or will have heard stories about problems in the past from colleagues. In an organisation that is either installing video for the first time, or extending existing systems to be used more widely, this 'video folklore' or perception of problems will not help adoption.
When Quocirca dug deeper into the research and talked directly to installers of video systems, it became clear that many are not doing enough after making the purchase decision to get the best out of their installation. This is not helpful and can result in reinforcing negative perceptions about using video in the workplace, or denting the confidence of employees so that they only use video conferencing if there is someone on hand to provide assistance or set up the communications for them.
Rob: What can be done to ensure new video collaboration customers get off to an effective start?
Roger:There are several simple steps that an organisation can follow to ensure the smoothest possible roll out of video collaboration. The most important is thinking how video is actually going to address the business challenges and needs and then anticipating how it will fit in to the end users' daily routine. Video that is integrated into workflows will be much more rapidly adopted than a system that doesn't seem contextually relevant.
The second step is to prepare end users for what's coming to make sure they are comfortable with process and ready to engage. Think about the user profile and pick the methods best suited to them. For example, your digital natives and millennials will be happy to watch YouTube videos and tweet their questions to your support desk, but baby boomers might prefer a more personal and formal approach such as webinars, online tutorials and physical workshops. It's key that the users know what to expect and do not become concerned or nervous about this being a tool for them to use in the future.
Lastly; remember you only get one chance to make a first impression. Users should find collaboration tools easy to use wherever they are working. People who have an experience that is simple, with clear menu options and error codes, quick and reliable connections, and who get a satisfactory audio and video experience the first time they try are much more likely to become return users. Ensure that your users have a positive and quality experience first time and every time.
It is quite easy to look at consumer usage of video conferencing and think it will translate directly into straightforward use in the workplace, but this is rarely the case. While regular consumer usage builds awareness and familiarity, it is not sufficient for the rigorous challenges of the workplace. Things do not only need to be easy to use, they have to be reliable and build confidence that they will portray a professional image.
Partly this is down to the conferencing and collaboration tools and how well the infrastructure supports them as well as how conducive the overall workplace is for video use. Some of these factors are environmental and need to be put in place to provide the right settings, easy mechanisms for establishing calls and so on.
However, some factors are personal. Pro-active training and facilitation from the outset, will help establish confidence and this can be further developed with increasing awareness of the value and management commitment to video usage - fostering a positive culture of video adoption.
It is a significant investment, so it would seem foolish to do anything other than take it seriously and ensure that everybody in the organisation gets the best out of it.