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Innovative Technologies for Investor Relations

The utilisation of innovative technologies in Investor Relations gains more and more weight. The global finance crisis led to uncertainties across financial markets. The reactions on incoming news and information from Investor Relation departments impacted the market heavily.

Jan Johansson, President, CEO, SCA, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, Investor Relations, Camera, Display, IP Video Streaming, Solution, Annual General Meeting, AGM,

Jan Johansson (President & CEO of SCA) during an annual general meeting (Photo: SCA)

That is why it is now an important task for the management of such companies and their Investor Relations departments to re-gain trust. The target is to enable a target-driven direct communication to investors, analysts and other stakeholders without giving a wrong impression or deliver data that would lead to wrong assumptions. For this communication to happen, more and more organisations utilise innovative technologies. Such technologies are also known as “Unified Communications” tools and aid Investor Relations significantly with the efficient communication with a usually large number of recipients. On top of that many investors and analysts are scattered across the globe and therefore subject to time zone related difficulties.

Important technologies within the Unified Communication tool-set utilised in Investor Relations are:

Video Conference Services

Video conferencing services allow organisations to rapidly and easily get in contact with one or many investors or analysts. This way of communicating is becoming more and more attractive as the prices for video conference system deployments have significantly going down recently – becoming a much more affordable solution. Beyond the normal functionality of communicating with audio and video dimensions, high-end video conferencing technologies also allow sharing screens or other digital content into the video conference, such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations or business plans in form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for instance. Now one is able to present such files live without sending the data per mail prior to a meeting., which cuts a lot of issues like “having an out-dated file” at hand during the conference. Video conferencing not only is a great way of delivering high quality communication, but also can save a lot of costs and increases productivity of teams. While Investor Relations officials would be required to take a plane to fly to an appointment, now the very same person can save time and costs by arranging a video conference and getting the message across to many even on the same day.

Live Video Streaming via IP

Another way of delivering information from important events is the live video stream via internet or intranet. Like this an organisation can easily broadcast from an annual general meeting (AGM) and deliver a video feed in HD not only to on-site audience but also to remote investors and analysts. The video stream could be watched from Notebook, PC, Mac, Tablet or even from Smartphones. With Digital Signage the event could be embedded into information displays that could be deployed in meeting rooms or public areas. The possibility of facilitating IP Video Streaming do not always require an own infrastructure and staff for events that happen only once per year. They can be also booked as a service and the streaming solution will be provided by specialists at scalable costs. If an organisation however runs events at a high frequency or requires video transmission for other reasons, they can invest in own infrastructure and managed services to look after their infrastructure. This would enable an organisation to flexibly utilise video streaming solutions and would save costs on long-term outlook.

Video-on-Demand Platforms

QSC AG, Quality Service Communications, Annual General Meeting, AGM, IP Video Streaming, Analyst

Analyst focused on watching an annual general meeting (Photo: QSC AG)

A Video-on-Demand solution serves archiving purposes and enables the playback of any previously recorded videos, video conferences or events in case someone could not attend the live video stream. You could for example provide access to shareholders, who would usually not be able to see the live broadcast due to being in another time zone. This kind of solutions is also known as “Corporate YouTube” using the role of YouTube as “mother” of all Video-on-Demand platforms. Also for Video-on-Demand solutions organisations can choose between solutions managed and hosted for them or deploy them in their own infrastructure and have it supported by managed services to ensure a maximum availability to the users.

Summary

In summary we can see that innovative technologies such as Unified Communication tools are utilised in Investor Relations and being a great value-add to the communication and delivery of information towards stakeholders of internal and external nature. A business case is relatively quick assembled, since the technologies increase quality in communication and also steadily decrease costs that would normally be spent on travel and hotels. Also the technologies can greatly increase productivity of teams even if they are not in the same place.

What is Telemedicine?

The term telemedicine is currently a big buzzword and has been written about by renowned press, such as the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The first use of telemedicine and hence the use of the term too dates back a couple of years ago though. Generally the term telemedicine describes an approach where the physician is physically separated from his patient while examining or diagnosing him.

Through substantial improvements of modern video conferences and steady enhancement of IP networks worldwide, telemedicine has become a lot more important again. Telemedicine has been further professionalized driven by big countries and regions with a comparably low population density. Telemedicine can be used to make decisions essential to human life faster and for first diagnoses. Experts can consulted at a cheap price. Pioneers in telemedicine are the USA, Australia or the Scandinavian countries.

Modern video conference systems are often used as technical platforms, since they already offer many important features for telemedicine. Among the most important features are an optimal HD video conference quality for point-to-point connections and video conferences with more participants as well as the possibility to exchange files, x-rays or blood levels via video conference (Desktop Sharing). Especially video conference services that can be operated with different devices offer a good solution for telemedicine. Physicians can communicate with the patient via video conference from the meeting room, while the patient himself sits at home in front of his PC. Furthermore a specialist could be consulted via iPad while using the Wireless connection of his hotel.

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Example of Telemedicine:
Concept Art of Sarah Kaiser

Easy usability of video conference solutions is essential. The target group often exceeds the 60 years and is not used to handling modern equipment. Simple installation and self-explanatory user interfaces are hence crucial aspects for the deployment of telemedicine. Video conference solutions with a relatively low bandwidth should be preferred, since many patients will not have broadband Internet connections.

Telemedicine is used more often in Germany as well. Possibilities to make use of it are manifold. Physicians draw on systems for exchanging information with international colleagues. Patients can be dialled in for precaution, diagnosis and after treatment via the telemedicine system. Live broadcasts from the surgery to a lecture hall of a university are possible.

Despite the many possibilities to use telemedicine it has not spread as widely yet. The reservations can be explained with lacking experiences and high initial costs. Physicians increasingly look for easy solutions that can be rented and only cause relatively small costs per month.

Video conference hardware providers and video conference service providers have to take these requirements into account. Only some service providers are able to offer first class telemedicine concepts at a moderate price level already today.

Due to rising quality and lower costs of telemedicine and video conference services, also physicians in Germany will see the advantages of technical advancements for their patients and themselves in this sector and eventually integrate these developments in their daily processes.

Video Conference Services for Banks of the Future

How Video Conference Services can create additional value for banks of the future.

The Banking Sector and the whole financial industry have been subject to considerable change within the last couple of years. The fast development of the Internet and the growing acceptance of Internet users for online banking, entail great chances as well as great risks. Deutsche Bank AG Co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen has expressed his concerns about possible competition from big Internet companies such as Google or Microsoft, who have detailed knowledge about their customers’ preferences, which they could use for financial services.

Also video conference services play an ever growing role in the banking sector and add positively to change and modernization of business processes. Especially investment banks make use of video conference services in order to globally exchange real time information about markets, shares, currencies and other relevant information.

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“Deutsche Bank Skyscrapers in Frankfurt, Germany” by Thomas Wolf (www.foto-tw.de)

Up to now video conference services have been used seldom in areas such as Private Wealth Management, although those could potentially have an important impact on changing banking products and offers. Many banks keep themselves busy with designing concepts for bank branches of the future, in which video conference services certainly will be one of the components.

If you take a closer look at the traditional banking concept for private customers throughout Germany (provident banks, cooperative banks, Deutsche Bank, Postbank, Commerzbank and many more) you will not find a lot of creative approaches for change: During normal office hours customers get detailed advice about accounts and construction loans, leaving almost no time for individual advice.

Video conference services could leave more design scope to banks, thus helping them to offer better, faster and more tailored advice to their customers.

Improving Internal Communication

Using modern video conference services enables banks to equally inform all employees at all locations about current developments at the financial market, political changes or new products of the bank and their business partners. A big advantage compared to ordinary media channels (e-mail, intranet, video streaming, etc.) is the personal contact, which allows for further inquiries and therewith promotes a higher level of knowledge. Furthermore participation numbers are transparent.

Remote Experts Advice via Video Conference

In many cases customers confront their bank advisers with very complicated questions. The worst case is that the adviser will give the customer bad advice or has to start a lengthy inquiry within the bank to get the necessary information from an internal expert. Either way is not very customer friendly. A smart solution here would be to patch in the expert via video conference. This concept could also save travel costs where experts are shattered across the whole country and it additionally could accelerate decision processes concerning sales and distribution deals.

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This lady can talk to the right expert, thanks to video conferencing services.

Customer Advice via Video Conference

Modern video conference services can also be used to advice customers via video conference. Many video conference services permit taking part in a video conference via desktop PC, Mac or also with Tablet or Smartphone as mobile service. In the future bank advisers can effortlessly communicate with their customers via video conference. This still might sound like a vision to banks, but it should not be forgotten that the coming generation has been exposed to video conference services such as Skype since their early childhood and does not have any reservations against this communication medium. Banks certainly will have to look into this new consumer behaviour.

Consequently video conferences and modern video conference services have great potential for innovative financial services and banks. Putting technology to use in a smart way can be the decisive competitive edge for banks in creating an ideal environment for individual and superior advice also in the future.

Have you ever been using service like these or is your organisation having similar approaches? Let us know of your experiences and drop us an comment below!

What you need to know about Job Interviews via Video Conference

In some companies it’s already a common practice: The job interview via video conference. This article tells you what you should take into account as applicant as well as HR professional.

One can generally say that video conferences and tailored video conference services do pose a perfect setting to conduct job interviews with potential candidates. This way costs can be kept low and the process of making decisions within the selection of applicants can be accelerated enormously.

Especially international companies spend a lot of money on travel costs to invite potential candidates to their headquarters. It is for this reason that phone interviews are often a first point of contact to get to know the potential candidate. However, often these interviews cannot replace the personal getting to know each other and are at the cost of our scarcest good – time. Using video conferencing can save a lot of trouble here: A number of interviews can be conducted in short time beforehand and only a small selection will be invited on site.

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What you should consider as HR professional

Before conducting a job interview via video conference it is essential to be well prepared. A thoroughly organized video conference will leave not only a professional impression of the company, but also of its potential for innovation and the work of its HR department. Poor quality and technical problems on the other hand will leave the exact opposite impression on the candidate. It is therefore crucial to choose the right video conference services.

Before choosing a video conference service provider you should check the expert knowledge of the provider in question as well as the already existing video conference solutions within your company and the technical environment of the candidate. Ideally the provider offers so-called Video Conferencing Managed Services, meaning he will take care of setting up the equipment, checking the connection and of course managing the video conference connection during the actual job interview.

If your company has the respective facilities, these should also be used to conduct the job interview. A great advantage here is the mostly good quality and the connectivity of the video conference service facility over IP.

A job interview via video conference is also well suitable to involve more people, for example the branch manager, who dials in from his own office.

Potential candidates do not have any need of expensive equipment. Modern solutions can be operated with video conferencing software. An ordinary PC or Mac, a webcam, common headset and a stable Internet connection are sufficient. This way the candidate can participate in the interview via his or her own PC, notebook or even from smartphone.

 What you should consider as potential candidate

For many candidates participating in a job interview via video conference is a completely new experience, although the Generation Y is usually well acquainted with video chats and other Unified Communication solutions such as Skype and should not encounter problems. A professional manner of appearance in front of the camera is key, as it would be in a personal interview as well. Just before the actual interview the candidate should check what can be seen of his or her surroundings on screen. A messy desk or big piles of dirty laundry do certainly not leave the best impression.

During the conference the candidate should take care of a good positioning of the webcam and the ideal adjustment of the microphone. And a hint for the HR Professional: the printed CV or other documents should not cover the microphone if you are not using a headset.

Learn more about Video Conferences

More tricks of the trade for the ideal video conference etiquette can be found here on our blog. I am happy to hear from your experiences!

Why ITIL is such a Crucial Criterion for Video Conference Managed Services

ITIL Standards everywhere – also relevant for AV services?

The ITIL Framework is the acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and constitutes an important framework for professional IT Service Management in most IT departments. The ITIL framework is constantly developed further and at the moment the ITIL v3 Edition is on the market.

Why is ITIL so important for AV, Media Technology and Video Conference Managed Services?

This question is easy to answer, but more complex to implement. The technical development of Video Conference Services, Telepresence solutions and conference room technology progresses very fast. The probably most characteristic trait in this technical development of media technology is the fact that systems increasingly can be implemented in networks. The development from ISDN based video conferences to IP based video conferences had a big share in this. However, also other components of media technology are produced in an IP friendly way, such as media technology for signal management, Routing or Room Control. The idea is to establish easier management and monitoring of media technology, ideally from a remote location.

The development described above further leads to changing responsibilities within the sector of media technology in companies. Previously facility management was responsible for media and room technology, whereas today IT departments increasingly take over the responsibility for IP based media technology and video conferences.

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To master these new responsibilities IT departments also pose new challenges to suppliers and operators of media technology, so-called Video Conference Managed Services providers. Video Conference Managed Service providers should speak the same language as other IT sectors (network, firewall, security, etc.), but additionally should have expert knowledge about video conferences and media technology. The ITIL framework makes it easier to find a common language and makes it possible to implement and optimize cross-sector processes. External service providers are quite often asked to use internal tools and ITSM platforms, in doing so incident or problem management, but also knowledge management are portrayed according to standardized processes.

This development means a big investment in an ITIL certification for Video Conference Manages Services Providers, who often also have to adapt established processes internally. Many providers simply lack the experience in big ITIL environments.

Companies that look into the possibility of implementing  Video Conference Managed Services in order to operate video conference infrastructures, video conference systems or Video Conference Bridging Services, should take a close look at the potential providers’ technical capacities in IT processes and ITIL frameworks, next to technical expert knowledge and experience with video conferences of course.

Nintendo brings Personal Telepresence to your Living Room

Nintendo and Vidyo announced that the new Nintendo Wii U console will support the Telepresence technology from Vidyo. Users will be able to use their Nintendo Wii U now to make video calls to other players. This Telepresence solution was introduced in November under the name “Wii U Chat” (Video attached below).

The scope of service will be first for point-to-point connections only but it perhaps this can be enhanced to a multi-site-call, similar to the Google Hangout, in the future. This is the first step of bringing enterprise grade Telepresence technology into the homes of families and not only into an enterprise boardroom. This is an important step for Vidyo to take and shows again the success and potential of software-based Telepresence solutions as well as the importance of BYOD. We are excited about this news and hope we see new revelations in the market of Telepresence solutions for consumers soon.

More info:

Videoconference24

Telepresenceoptions

Vidyo


Product presentation with Satoru Iwata & Reggie Fils-Aime

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZO7wjmz8sA]

Desktop Video Conferencing – The largest Trend in Video Conferencing Business

Why are Desktop Video Conferences getting more and more popular?

The latest Forrester Report proofs again the importance of video conferencing and the continuous increase of desktop video conference solutions, integrated video conferencing rooms and immersive telepresence installations in organisations. The majority of the 1,000 participating companies stated that they are looking to implement desktop video conferencing solutions very soon. More than 40% of these organisations said also they are planning to introduce HD video conferencing and 25% are going to install immersive telepresence rooms solutions.

Desktop, Video, Conference, VC, Skype, Call, Lens, Camera, Close-up, Macro, Dust, Boke, Bokeh, Background, Blurry, Telepresence, Lync

This means…

There is an especially strong trend towards software video conferencing solutions, that can be used with already existing hardware such as PCs, Notebooks, Tablets and Smartphones. This is an important reason for the spreading of this kind of video communication technology in organisations but the main arguments for this are the reduced costs for installation and maintenance in comparison with HD video conferencing systems or immersive telepresence rooms.

Who’s new in the game?

The report provides a good overview around the current situation of the communication market and the manufacturing companies. The result is that next to big players such as for instance Cisco, Polycom and LifeSize, who are providing a wide range of video conferencing and unified communications solutions, several new companies are emerging, who provide software solutions. Two of the most important features of these new companies are a strong product focus and tailoring the technology to suit the clients. The report names some of the new actors in the game to be Vidyo, Huawei and Teliris.

Summary

Forrester shows clearly that many organisations are considering video conferencing as a strategic advantage and that the technology is placed in their long term planning for corporate communication.

How your Company can save Money by setting up Home Offices

Home-Office – Flexibility and Cost-Savings

In the last years flexible working time and virtual collaboration became more and more popular and relevant in many companies. An important aspect here is the “home office”. Especially for modern people the home office has been a tempting feature and often settles a decision on what company they should work for. Beside the high amount of free working procedures, there is also a financial aspect to working from home for employees. This could be for instance saving the costs for commuting to the office and back every day.

But what is the organisation’s opinion on home offices?

There are often concerns that the flexible environment might lead to the loss of control for the organisation. Also a potential problem would be that the productivity and the team work would not be optimal being apart from each other. On the other side the organisation could save a lot of costs for office space, office equipment and furniture as well as the charges that are spent on incidental expenses would not be required. That means using home offices your organisation could quickly save several hundred dollars per employee every month. But the most important subject next to leading and managing a virtual team is to provide the right technical infrastructure and collaboration solutions to the employees.

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The key for achieving this is Unified Communications. With the aid of tailor-made tools the employees are provided with a complete range of tools to communicate and collaborate. With the “Presence” function everyone in the team is enabled to understand the current status of a team member. This will point out whether a colleague is “Available” and can be contacted or if they are “In a meeting”, “Busy” or even “On leave”. In a glimpse you will be able to understand the overall status of your team and possibly even other teams. So you know if it makes sense to call your team member or if you should better drop an instant message or email to get a fast response.

New ways of Communication

In order to work efficiently together in a virtual team that is physically separated modern ways of communication can enable an almost immersive experience of team working. For instance you could start an instant message session with one team member or a group of users, or quickly turn the chat session into a video conference with the possibility to share content on your screen among the video conference participants. You can quickly send an email with either formal content or just a quick update of the latest file that has been worked on. It goes without mentioning that of course you can just make a classic phone call as well.

Did we make you curious?

If you are considering the implementation of home offices for your employees you should capture the expectations of team during the project to make sure you are aware of all the requirements. After that is done you can take this information into the technical planning and design of a home office solution in your organisation. Every organisation and even each department within the organisation might have different requirements to be able to work from home. Missing these requirements out did often lead to such an initiative not working out in the end in some cases. The big advantage of Unified Communication solutions is however to have lower total cost of ownership and to receive a well structured support model for service providers and manufacturing companies.

Summary

With good planning and analysis of requirements, home offices can be a great benefit for employees as well as for the organisation itself  and might put you one step ahead of your competition.