Tag Archives: collaboration

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Video Conferencing in Project Management

As technology keeps on progressing, industries are constantly adapting to a dynamic world. With the development of business at a faster rate, it is increasingly significant to execute improvements on projects. The fundamental key of effective project management lies in excellent communication specifically in conveying goals, updates and other information to the people/stakeholders involved.

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Rocketboard: All Purpose Remote Collaboration Whiteboard

When you work in a company and you are part of a team, one of the most important things is collaboration. Without actually collaborating with team members you simply can’t create the best product on the market. Collaboration works because each member brings his unique perspective and ideas in order to provide something helpful for the overall project.

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The Elephant in the Video Conferencing Room

The fundamental challenge of running enterprise-wide video conferencing (VC) is keeping users happy. Happy users feel empowered, not foolish when confronted with the challenge of setting up or running a VC meeting. If you keep users happy you have most likely cut support costs while increasing utilisation – both metrics critical to any AV service manager come review time.

However for some inexplicable reason the VC industry as a whole has done a very poor job of keeping users happy. Regardless of what the respective vendor marketing departments say, most VC users consider the experience to be at best annoying, at worst completely off-putting. Integrators try to put lipstick on the vendor-grown pig, but inevitably only add cost and introduce unneeded complexity.

New SaaS Offer: The Lifesize Cloud

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Lifesize, a division of Logitech

The revamped and refashioned logo of Lifesize indicates its desire to rebrand itself in the video collaboration circuit and bring in new innovations and technologies to better suit the needs of organizations and businesses today. Having brought in HD video conferencing nearly a decade ago, an introduction that changed the face of business communication, Lifesize has reinvented its video conferencing technologies to suit today’s need for easy, flexible and economical collaboration to ensure effective and efficient transfer of data and information within and among organizations. With “cloud” playing a predominant role in video collaborations in recent times, Lifesize has come up with the new “Lifesize Cloud” to bring the benefits of cloud into video conferencing.

Raffle – 100 Articles on Telepresence24.com

Dear readers, we have truly anticipated this moment and we would like to use this opportunity to also thank each and every one of you for reading our articles, contributing in the discussion and even guest blogging. It is you, for who we are doing this and it is the exciting moments that we share with you, that keep us going.

To celebrate the 100th published article, we are doing a raffle among our email subscribers. You can win an Amazon.com Gift Card with the value of 50 $ (US) or equal value of your local Amazon store, if you are outside of the United States.

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How to join the raffle?

If you are already a subscriber, you’re all set and ready. If you do not yet follow us via email subscription, please sign up using the widget on the right side or just visit our subscribing page.

When will it happen?

The raffle will happen on Friday the 4th of October and the winner will receive a notification to the same email address, which they have also signed up with.

Who can participate?

Everybody can – Feel free to pass this to friends and colleagues or anyone who is interested in Unified Communications and Collaboration.

Meetings in the 4th Dimension


Shanghai, Frankfurt or Chicago: Global teams meet each other in person only occasionally. Many staff members work from different locations. To enable collaboration, remote solutions need to be used.

Meetings with dispersed participants can be challenging. Solutions that help meetings function as if all participants are in the same room, significantly determine how far you can avoid misunderstandings and achieve your business goals.

Companies are increasingly using audio and video conferencing for professional collaboration. Some of them even go one step further and share their desktops allowing the team to view PowerPoint, Excel and other files. Regardless of high-quality equipment, remote meetings can end up being more or less passive in nature. What’s the reason for this? There is something missing, which plays an essential role in traditional face-to-face meetings; the ability for everyone to be engaged in the process of developing ideas and content by collaborating and writing on one common surface.

SRS

This visual aspect to virtual meetings increases productivity and leads to better results.

Imagine if the Product Manager in Shanghai annotates on a document someone shared on a screen. He presents an idea and quickly drafts a chart. His peer from Frankfurt picks up the idea adds some remarks in hand writing and explains via video which barriers need to be overcome to successfully implement the idea. Without long explanations and sending files back and forth, everybody immediately understands the ideas their colleagues are presenting. The visually edited document can be sent with a single click and becomes a working file that reflects the team’s collaborative work.

In the fourth dimension of collaboration teams are surpassing what they would normally achieve in a dispersed collaboration environment. All participants experience being an integral part of the meeting, just as if they were all on-site. Interacting with ideas, strategies and concepts from no matter where you are highly encourages teamwork and reveals aspects which otherwise would not have become visible. This kind of active engagement and rich interactivity leads to effective meetings, that inspire a new level of collaboration.


Kerstin Fischer, SMART Technologies, Autorin, Social Media, Manager

Kerstin Fischer

 

About the Author

Kerstin Fischer is Social Media Manager at SMART Technologies. SMART Technologies is a leading manufacturer of Collaboration Solutions. A simplified approach to audio and visuals is completed with the addition of interactive content creation with digital ink. This kind of visual collaboration aids the productivity of meetings and leads to better results.

Can Your Business Benefit From Cloud Computing?

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Simply put, cloud computing is computing based on the Internet. So, instead of running programs or applications on a physical server, cloud computing allows you to access the same apps and software online, without needing to download or install them. Web applications, including but not limited to email, document sharing, instant messaging and more, are all designed to make it easier to collaborate and get work done no matter where you’re located.

From reducing costs to improving communication and collaboration to enhancing productivity, the benefits of cloud computing are countless.  Because of this, it’s important to understand the benefits of cloud computing and just why so many businesses are moving to the cloud.

 1. Reduced costs

Moving to the cloud will not only help you reduce costs on infrastructure and software but you’ll also be able to invest more money back into your business in research, marketing strategies, product innovation and anything else you need. Using the cost savings from cloud computing to free up resources will give your business a strong competitive advantage in the market.

With cloud, you only need to pay a small amount of money in return for a huge amount of storage space. Plus, cloud resources are easily scalable which means they can be altered to suit your exact needs as your business grows.

2. Disaster recovery

Did you know that 800,000 laptops are lost each year in airports alone? Although replacing the laptop may be costly, what do you do about everything you have saved on it? When you have everything stored in the cloud, you no longer have to worry about losing or not being able to access your data because it’s all in the cloud, safe and sound.

If you’re a business owner, cloud-based services will also help you solve issues faster in the event of a disaster. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group revealed mid-size businesses took almost half the time it took larger companies to recover after a disaster because of their commitment to the cloud. Furthermore, cloud-based disaster recovery services were able to get companies up and running again in 2.1 hours, compared to eight hours for those not using the cloud.

3. Automatic software updates

Using the cloud means you’ll no longer have to worry about purchasing, installing, downloading and updating software. Cloud computing suppliers take care of this for you – security updates included – thus freeing up your time so you can focus on other important aspects of your business.

Not only does this save you hassle, but it also means you don’t have to worry about hackers exploiting out of date software.

4. Increased collaboration

Cloud computing makes collaboration easy as all employees – no matter where they’re located – can access and work on shared documents at the same time and don’t need to keep sending them back and forth over email. This is a huge benefit of cloud computing as all files are stored in a central location which means employees can talk to each other while making changes to the central copy at the same time. The collaboration is simplified and it translates to business efficiency as no time is wasted on uploading and emailing files and waiting for updates.

5. Work from anywhere using the cloud

You can have employees working from anywhere in the world, so long as they have an Internet connection. In addition, the cloud has also become more accessible via smartphones and tablets, which means that you really can have access to your documents anytime and anywhere.

As you can see, the reduced costs, the flexibility and security provided by cloud computing can truly give a business leeway to focus in its core priorities.

Can you think of any other fantastic benefits of using cloud computing? Go ahead and share them with us in a comment below.

What is WebRTC? – Overview for Busy People

webrtc, logo, chat, bubble, shapes, colours, colorsNo other topic is roaming the news and social media as much as WebRTC these days. But what is WebRTC and what should it mean to you?

Today I would like to give you an overview around this trend and where it came from. In this article I would like to try out the “For Busy People” article format by consolidating all hot topics into quick facts to add value to you without getting side-tracked. I know you busy people are busy and so you can just skip the parts of the article that you are not interested in.

What does WebRTC stand for?

WebRTC means Web Real-Time Communication, so we are talking about ways to communicate without any delay, based on a web-browser, without the use of software that needs to be installed beforehand.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is an open framework for placing real-time communication components on web-pages and is controlled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), who are also taking care of other web-standards such as HTML, XML, CSS and others. WebRTC components could include methods such as VoIP, Instant Messaging (or just “chat”), video conferencing or a combination of these. Personally I would count WebRTC to the umbrella of Unified Communications, but the actual use of the WebRTC solutions depend on each enterprise.

Where does WebRTC come from?

WebRTC technology was first developed by Global IP Solutions (or GIPS), a company founded around 1999 in Sweden. In 2011 GIPS was acquired by Google and the W3C started to work on a standard for WebRTC. Since then Google and other major players in the web-browser market, such as Mozilla and Opera, have been showing great support for WebRTC.

How does WebRTC work?

The framework is based on HTML5 and JavaScript but does not utilise SIP or H.323 like other Unified Communication solutions. The signalling and transfer of data works over RTP and with an XMPP extension called “Jingle”. With the newly introduced JavaScript Session Establishment Protocol (JSEP) direct connections can be established without the need of a piece of hardware in the middle. Depending on the deployment audio, video and / or other data can now be exchanged to allow WebRTC to happen in your browser.

And for our firewall traversal specialists: WebRTC can do STUN, ICE, TURN, RTP-over-TCP and supports proxies. What else do you wish for?

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How does WebRTC work? – Click for larger pop-up

What does WebRTC mean to me?

Imagine the impact of 1,000,000,000+ endpoints. Not bad! This is the potential amount of endpoints talking to each other and making VoIP calls or even video conferences. Even though Microsoft is strongly pushing Skype for desktop video conferencing, they are also making sure that their Internet Explorer is ready to take on the WebRTC challenge.

But the missing link right now is: Will there be interoperability between WebRTC and other Unified Communication solutions? I believe the first developers, making both worlds compatible to each other will have edge.

Examples for WebRTC?

The possibilities are impossible to count. Especially in the age of BYOD everyone has their smartphone always ready and beyond that every notebook and desktop PC could participate in WebRTC. Here are some examples I could think of:

  • Customer service via video conference (the end of the service hotline?)
  • Working together on documents via web (web-collaboration beyond firewalls)
  • Smart-TVs allow you do do video conferences without infrastructure or service running in the back (if there’s a browser – there’s a way!)
  • Not interested in video conferences? Have a video diary! (takes only cloud storage and WebRTC)
  • WebRTC might change the face of Social Media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter completely if implemented (why not quickly talk about it?)
  • Instead of displaying phone numbers to your common window-shopper, provide a QR-code or a NFC space, so users can reach directly to you with their smartphone or tablet (we got a camera, a mic, a speaker – so let’s use them!)

Is there a WebRTC presentation?

You are lucky! Google has recently released a web-based presentation with a lot of interesting slides. I have also added a video below, for your to get some more details on WebRTC, Let me know of your thoughts!


Web Real-time communication – Google I/O 2013 – by Justin Uberti

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2HzZkd2A40&w=575]

Microsoft Lync 2013 – New Feature Overview

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Microsoft Lync 2013 – Main Window

Are you planning to upgrade your unified communications IM client? Following up on the article “What Is Microsoft Lync?” by Mark Stubbles we would like to introduce you today to all new features of Microsoft Lync 2013.

In comparison the Microsoft Office Communicator (also known as OCS) had the look and feel of Windows XP, the Lync 2010 update brought it up to speed with the Windows 7 design and finally Lync 2013 has the looks of the Windows 8 and Office 365 environment. But of course there is much more under the hood than just eye-candy. I listed below a few of the new features that were most interesting to me.

Overview of new features in Lync 2013

Visual Features:

The main window has been optimized to provide better access and a more intuitive using of the application. The new tabbed conversation feature gets rid of having several chat windows open at the same time – so you can keep track of all your conversations in a single place and just have to browse through them. Similar to the tabbed browsing of Google Chrome you are also able to move a certain chat out of the tabbed conversations and provide them with their own window and naturally you can move it back into the tabbed conversation window.

And for everyone who would like to display the images and fonts larger they can easily adjust the display setup in the configuration of the client. This is not only a help to users with sight challenges, but also can be useful for a deployment on wall-mounted displays.

Easier Deployment:

The main Lync 2013 client and the Online Meeting add-in is now included in the setup program of Office 2013 so deployment on the software side has been made significantly easier, especially for large enterprises with many thousands of workstations.

However because this part has changed Microsoft has also changed how the group policy is deployed. Instead of working on the communicator.adm file to define policies, certain ADMX and ADML admin templates are provided along with Office Policy Administrative Templates to work on. For more information on this particular topic I suggest reading the Microsoft article on “Group Policy Settings for Lync 2013“.

BYOD Enhancements:

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Microsoft Lync 2013 – Calling a Smartphone

With Lync 2010 the App for smartphone, there was only support for presence and instant messaging while the new Lync 2013 App for smartphones and tablets also supports Voice calls and mobile video conferencing over WiFi and cellular data connection alike. Regardless of the fact that many desk phones can be connected with your Lync client, utilizing Lync on smartphones and Lync on PCs within your organisation your permanently replace the requirement of having a separate hardware phone on your desk and cutting costs for invest and maintenance by enforcing unified communications technology. For a more detailed overview of the features for mobile Lync I recommend the “Mobile Client Comparison Tables” page by Microsoft.

The users accessing from non-corporate workstations via browser also get some good news. The Lync 2013 Web App for web-based conferencing received support for voice and high definition video conferencing devices. Meeting participants can also show their screens for collaboration or presentation and re-assign the presenter role to others – They get the full Lync 2013 meeting experience without having the software client installed on the machine.

Functional Features:

The Lync 2013 client can handle virtual environment better. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) fully supports audio and video devices, like a headset and a webcam, to be connected to the client even though you might be using a virtual machine such as a thin client or a differently re-purposed workstation. For more details on how to deploy the Lync VDI plug-in please check the Microsoft TechNet article.

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Microsoft Lync 2013 – Chat Room Integration

Another interesting new feature is the chat room integration (also known as persistent chat rooms or topic feeds). In older versions you were already able to create group conversations for multiple users to chat or hold a presentation for instance. In the new Lync 2013 however these can be promoted to be permanent and will be also available for others to be joined, including all the content that was added and when. It might not be applicable to all services and organisations, but this feature might the need for static email lists and adds a new dynamic way of sharing information and making such available for all. If you don’t want it to be available for all users, there is also the option to limit the visibility to certain users or user groups.

Also newly implemented is a feature that lets Lync 2013 automatically assign you with “presenting” status, to block incoming communication unless the sender is in an approved group. If you are a two-screen users however this is not automatically done for you, if you use the secondary screen as presenting space.

You may have made experience with previous versions of the client that you would like to keep a certain conversation up for reference but you need to restart the machine. What happens? The information is gone. In the new Lync 2013 once you are back booted up, the conversation comes back along with the content of the conversation, you held before rebooting. I found this to be quite the time-saver in those moments.

Improvements of already deployed functions:

  • Outlook Meeting Scheduling updated
  • Native Video Conferencing enhanced
  • Web App and Mobile App now support voice and video conferencing
  • Contact and card view was improved
  • Meeting participation functions were heavily improved for better collaboration

Have you tried Lync 2013 out yet? Missed your favourite new feature? I would be delighted to hear your opinion. Drop us your comment below!

Do You Need A Policy For Your Remote Workers?

After Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has previously reaffirmed the ban on telecommuting, discussion spread across the social web. Not only potential remote workers and telecommuters are affected by such policies but als the employer. For those who cannot agree on her decision, we would like to give some pointers around the creation of a remote working policy and what you should consider.

A remote working arrangement can be a great way to increase your company’s perceived flexibility, and it’s particularly beneficial for parents of young children. Working from home makes it easier for employers to recruit globally, and to hire otherwise-qualified but physically disabled workers who wouldn’t be able to make it to the office. The arrangement that’s best depends on your company’s location, work type and culture; if you’re planning to allow some of your workers to operate remotely, you’ll need a sound policy. Below, you’ll learn more about remote working policies and the parts to be included.

Creating an Effective Policy

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to foster a productive environment. Making the switch to remote working can be difficult, because it requires that you give up some degree of control over that environment; after all, who’s to say that employees won’t game the system? How can you effectively supervise workers whom you don’t see each day? Before a remote working arrangement can be implemented, those questions need to be answered. The first step in implementation is to create a remote working policy, which is a set of guidelines for work-at-home employees. As you’re drafting your policy, keep the following ideas in mind.

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Telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

Will you Need Multiple Policies?

The first question you’ll need to answer is: Do you need two policies, or one umbrella policy? If at all possible, avoid having separate policies for in- and out-of-office workers. Separate policies can confuse workers and lead to unfairness and resentment. Put together a unified policy that amply covers the job’s basic requirements, but make it broad enough to allow workers to operate in the most efficient way.

Outline Your Expectations to Remote Workers

To ensure that your workers remain on-task, you’ll need to set forth some expectations. Employees like working from home because it offers greater flexibility, but you’ll still need to let them know that you expect work to be completed on a certain date. Allow employees to work from home, but establish deadlines and measure output so productivity stays high.

Assign Responsibility for Expenses

When drafting a work-from-home policy, you’ll need to assign responsibility for business expenses. With remote working, the boundaries between work and home life tend to blur. Do you buy employees’ office supplies if they work from home? Do you change your mileage-tracking method if employees begin their commute from home? Your company should already have a policy for in-office workers, but you should have guidelines in place for remote workers as well.

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Barry Mulcahy Makes His Point (Photo credit: topgold)

Technology Toolset and Unified Communications

To provide your remote workers with an environment close to or equal to what they have in the office, you need to consider the technology that they will require. You should liaise with the IT department around your unified communications solution that you have in place and make sure it can be utilised from a remote position as well. If you are planning unified communications strategy and roadmap, you should make sure to consider your remote workforce as well.

Data Security

One of the largest remote-working challenges is keeping sensitive data secure. Working from home allows for greater flexibility, but it also requires a certain degree of data vulnerability. If information security is an important part of your corporate philosophy, collaborate with the IT department to properly secure and access data, and give remote workers the security tools and training they need.

If your company allows for remote working, you should have a policy in place. Remote working policies protect both you and your employees, and they set forth clear expectations. When drafting your policy, be clear and consistent without taking away any of the flexibility that makes remote working such a popular option—and once the policy is completed, be sure everyone knows what’s expected.