During the creation of this post our team - and candidly - our entire AV and Unified Video Communications Industry - was gathered for #InfoComm and a massive show off/show-me session. For PVC this is always an exciting week of innovation AND it has proven to
create a lot of noise.
More clouds in a cloud set of cloud options. Who needs it?
You do. It is during this time where we all evaluate the strength of our partner choices and the roadmap of the products we rely on for flawless, or PERFECT video conferencing. Innovation, disruption, mergers? MIA manufactures?? It all takes shape here. For those interested in this space, we are sure your inbox demonstrates this well. LOTS of product announcements. PVC will also keep you updated.
We do. It is during this time where we learn about new directions, offers, improvements and failures. InfoComm helps us see through the clouds and find clear, scalable and reliable choices for our partners and customers. I posted some of my thinking here.
They key winners? Reliability and Flexibility. Oh, and the consumer, ie YOU. Options have improved and prices continue to come down.
(Insert summary video link from InfoComm)
With that in mind it is important for a decision making community to remember some key factors we use to guide customers from both an audio visual facilities perspective and from a user adoption workflow perspective. In short, remember to keep it simple.
Facilities teams need consistency.
- Consider your building. If you are going to deploy cables and wires, do you have an existing and usable path from the TV or credenza to the table? Getting wires from point A to B can be an afterthought, however, a little consideration goes a long way. Use velcro raceway to at least keep it clean and professional.
- Don’t overlook the table. If you have power and a cable management solution, can it accommodate the new deployment? If not, retrofit or change. The user satisfaction goes up even if you just give them more options to power up their mobile devices or connect a laptop to power. It does not take much to remove the cable clutter. Doing so practically and visually improves the users’ expectations.
- Choose a platform that allows interoperability with others. A solution needs to work as expected AND connect with others.
Users want features and prefer not to change.
- Consider your culture. You use Google and Hangouts is free? You have users that get frustrated with other platforms? Buildout AV hardened Hangout rooms. The technology is ready, finally. It’s not as robust as a purposeful design solution like Starleaf or Lifesize, but if you have users who hate change and you lack the resources to motivate them or support them- take the path of least resistance.
- Choose a lane and allow for on-ramp and off-ramp interoperability. LIfesize and Starleaf are great examples of this. The Crestron Mercury also is working towards this approach- Choose a device that is locked into great audio and visual, then allow the bridge or platform to call out to others or that allows others to dial into it.
- Push a standard home office and mobile office deployment. Pick a supported headset, camera and equip users with Ethernet access. Above all else, teach them where the mute button is and how to share content.
Communications managers need quality.
- The better you train our community, the more the satisfaction level goes up. Record your best training and have new staff get self-paced learning and a tech buddy for the first few meetings.
- Coach your meeting facilitators and managers to call out any video conferencing technology challenges you may have early and provide training as needed. Solve the problem, even if it is end-user specific because perception becomes reality very quickly.
- Make sure the data networking and environment support high-quality audio, video and content sharing. Most of the meeting rooms will be used just for presentations, so be sure to keep that process as simple as possible.
We track our customer tickets in two main categories- hardware/software failure and user challenges. In the latter category- user issues- we have found that nearly 70% of the tickets raised are due to a lack of training, retention or deployment complexity. For example, a user gets an invite with both a join by phone link and a join by video. If the invite is not clear to do one OR the other, many times a user will do both. End result? Echo, echo, echo, echo…. and a crappy call for EVERYONE else.
Bottom line. Keep it simple. Know your budget, your goals and your users.
As you consider initial setup and long term management, remember: KISS
- Start with supporting key functions- content share, voice calls, video calls as needed.
- Can your solution play well with others? You can’t force a client to join your platform sometimes, so be able to join theirs.
- Cables, wires, dongles? Make content sharing easy.
- Use what you have or budget for what you need.
- Get help from a subject matter expert. Beyond the AV install, seek help deploying within the customs and culture of your organization.
Video conferencing doesn’t have to be expensive nor complicated, but if done right, it can be perfect.