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How to become a Videoconferencing Expert

I will start this article by answering what exactly is an expert – to me it’s a person who is really really good at something. Simple as that. This post is only about my thoughts on what it takes for a person to become such, not how he uses his expertise.

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There is more to becoming an expert than this.

I agree with the assumption that all humans are born as “tabula rasa” (lat. blank state), meaning all their knowledge comes from learning, experience and perception, but with genetics playing significant role in the process. Unfortunately, not all people take advantage of the amazing opportunities that lie ahead of them in becoming really good in something they love doing, often due to fear of failure. But failure is not something to be feared of, on the contrary, as Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Every person can be good at anything, good in so many things at the same time. But becoming really good at anything isn’t just a walk in the park. It takes discipline, focus and more importantly a strong will to make it happen.

So how does one become expert at anything? Well, I believe the formula is pretty much the same for any skill you choose. Since this is a Unified Communications blog and it happens to be the field that I’m currently working in, I’m going to point out what I consider to be important in becoming a Videoconferencing Expert.

Videoconferencing Education

I believe education is the first step in becoming good at something. Once you identify your objective and set your goals, you have to start preparing for reaching that goal, show genuine interest in learning all the bits and pieces that are related to what you really want to do, in this case Video Conferencing. I’m talking about harvesting knowledge you can use from every source you can get your hands on: specialized courses , forums, blogs, whitepapers, industry reports, product guides…

When it comes to official training, major industry leaders like Cisco and Polycom are already offering specialized training programs for anyone interested in becoming engineering or sales expert in Videoconferencing / Unified Communications and these certifications are usually valid for 2-3 years in order to keep up with the latest trends in the industry.

Cisco recently added two new programs to their certification portfolio focusing on Video, which already included the Cisco TelePresence Solutions Specialist and Cisco Rich Media Communications Specialist:

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CCNA Logo by Cisco

  • CCNA Video establishes an individual’s ability to deploy video endpoints, set up new users, and operate networked voice and video solutions for job duties that include configuring voice and video single-screen endpoint devices, supporting telephony and video applications, and troubleshooting. The certification also validates a candidate’s knowledge of the architecture, components, functionalities and features of Cisco Unified Communications Manager solutions.
  • Cisco Video Network Specialist establishes and enhances key skills including the ability to configure video single-screen endpoints, set up new user accounts, support video applications and troubleshoot networked video solutions.
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Polycom Logo

Polycom is offering the Polycom Certified Videoconferencing Engineer – a program that confirms the successful candidate has the necessary knowledge to perform implementation, configuration and troubleshooting operations for small to medium-sized environments on the Polycom RealPresence Platform including. In addition, the PCVE exam will validate the individual’s knowledge of networking models, standards and protocols relevant to videoconferencing.

Plenty of free training material is also available on the Internet. Personally, I liked the old Tandberg Certified Expert Partner (TCPE) program, simple and straight to the point, it’s perfect to gain the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to Video Communication.

Forums such as the VTCtalk and the Cisco Support Community are a great place for promoting and  sharing knowledge and engage other experts in constructive conversations about topics of the Videoconferencing / Unified Communications industry. There are also great groups on videoconferencing business and technology available on LinkedIn for anyone to join and listen or contribute.

Working Experience

It has been said many times before – no amount of theoretical knowledge compares to a real world experience, no matter what field are you part of. If you’re just starting in the industry, try an entry-level position and work your way from the bottom up. There are also companies who first offer training to their personnel for couple of months, and then make hiring decision, this is another good way of getting practical work experience.

And once you get there, try to learn as much as possible, try to learn everything you can about the topic, focus on becoming better and better until you become “so good they can’t ignore you”.

The constant hunger for knowledge is what separates experts from…well, everyone else. The beauty when working with technology is that it changes constantly, there is always something new to digest. Personally, I don’t understand how some people are pretty content with doing the same thing day by day. There is much more you can do, if you want to. The internet is there, the books are written and there are heaps of people to talk to, who are more than happy to engage in discussions – so jump right into it and become an expert!

I am going to end this post with two quotes from people who were really good at something and accomplished a lot:

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

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.

Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank, Zentrale, HQ, Headquarter, Frankfurt, FFM, Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland, Germany, Hochhaus, Hochhäuser, Mainhatten, Skyscraper, Bank, Finance, Financial Institute, Mirror, Surface, Modern, Design, Architektur, Architecture, Germany, Building, Sky, Himmel, Blau, DB, Taunusanlage, 12, Video Conference

“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!

VoIP is Perfect for Business Communication

In the past, the way to communicate was through snail mail and landline phone service. This was one of the major obstacles when conducting business. Mail is slow to arrive and phone lines are busy all the time. Suppliers and producers alike have to handle transactions over the phone and voice support alone is not enough to convey enough information. Today, there are VoIP service providers such as RingCentral that could make work easier and more efficient.

VoIP is now being dubbed as the future’s communication super technology and already today a part of  the Unified Communication Strategy of many enterprises. VoIP is the abbreviation of Voice over Internet Protocol. It makes your voice cross boundaries through the Internet. In any type of business, communication is the key to gain success. This of course entails the use of only the best modes of communication. So far, VoIP service is already gradually becoming a leader in this type of industry. It’s because it offers so many services and applications that landline and mobile phone services cannot.

voip-headset-logoVoIP is Easy to Use

If you know how to chat using the ones offered by email service providers, you would not have any problems learning how to use VoIP. Instructions are very easy to follow and even your employees will not have trouble toggling VoIP applications. You can use VoIP using your desktop computer, laptops, smartphone hybrids or have it directly connected to your analogue system. The best way to make use of this of course is from a computer-to-computer basis because calls will not take up any costs. 

VoIP is Very Flexible

Businesses are now making a switch to VoIP because it also offers an intra-office communication solution. Instead of each person or division having their own numbers, the employees are now required to have their very own VoIP account for easier inter-office communication. This is advantageous for the employees because they will not have to transfer desks to give necessary documents when they can just send these with the use of VoIP. It can also be used when sending and receiving messages to other people outside the office. This can also be used for outside communication. In fact, it is currently being used by businesses that have more than one office and can also be used to communicate with other business contacts such as investors, suppliers and clients.

 VoIP Offers More than Just Voice Support

VoIP is not just a service that mimics telephone conversations. It is far more progressive than that. If you have a webcam, you will be able to see the person you are speaking to, facilitating a video conference. You also have the capability to talk to multiple users if you wanted to and make it a multi-site-call. This can be an advantage if you are on vacation but need to be on call for business related activities. For example, you have a file you missed to endorse to a certain employee. VoIP can let you talk to this person and share that file at the same. What is more interesting is that text files are not the only types of documents you can share using VoIP. You can also send rich media files such as videos and audio. You can even attach a voice message using your email!

When you choose VoIP, you improve inter-personnel communication. Since people now are discovering the advantages of using the Internet when placing orders or building business contacts, you too can benefit by making yourself easily reachable with the use of VoIP and other Unified Communication technologies.

Polycom enables Telepresence with Skype, Facebook and Google

Telepresence with anyone?

Today I would like to present you something I considered rather exciting news. So far only the Blue Jeans Network MCU solution was able to bridge Skype users into enterprise-class video conferences but this might change and might even be bested by Polycom.

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So what’s new?

Announcing “Business Class Video Conferencing with Anyone”, Polycom is extending their RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite to be compatible with pre-industry telepresence applications including Skype, Google Talk and Facebook Video Chat. Beyond that it is said that anyone with merely a browser and webcam will be able to join video conferences as well, no matter if they are within the firewall or outside of it.

All your contacts from those directories along with your corporate contact list will be available in a single platform. Simply point and click your participants to establish an enterprise-grade secured video conference. Further they are including smartphones and tablets to be available for video calls.

Content sharing is said to be available even though it is yet to be seen how that works with clients like Facebook Video Chat that do not support a content channel by default. I am keen on seeing more of this solution.

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When will it be available?

The extension is expected to be available in April 2013. Contact your Polycom Sales Rep or visit their webpage for further information. If you already had some insight into the solution feel welcome to share your comments with us below.


Demonstration of the Polycom RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite with new features to work with Skype, Facebook and Google

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICVttZzDysM

Join the Call – VoIP vs ISDN Telephone Conferencing

VoIp, Telephone, Conferencing, Voice, Comparison

Technology is constantly evolving and being adapted to make things easier for us, to make tasks more efficient – and even automated in some cases. Technology is one industry that moves at an overwhelming speed. You can buy a computer today, and then next month new and improved components could come out making your computer no longer ‘state of the art’.

Technology for Consumers

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What a Social (Media) World!

As personal consumers, we tend to think of technology more in terms of social media, smartphones, tablets, computers and video games.

Every year we see fantastic new updates to the consumer technology market, things like the iPhone which get updated every year, computer components like memory, hard drives, processors, graphics cards and motherboards all see radical improvements year after year, even TV’s and the technologies we see in those are updated on a yearly basis; Blu-ray, 3D etc. technology is a huge part of our day-to-day lives, and it makes things a lot easier for us.

But technology plays a huge part in business too, without technology in business, the world as we know it would not exist! In-fact, business users probably account for a huge percentage of smartphone and tablet users…

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Connect to the World

 

Technology for Business

Technology helps businesses and organizations in a number of ways. It helps them to collaborate, it helps to manage time and productivity, it can help to manage products and inventory, and it can even automate or dramatically reduce the costs and time involved in certain tasks – like marketing, communication, collaboration, invoicing and so much more.

One of the oldest and most prominent uses for technology in business is for conferencing / meetings. Telephone conferencing and holding meets via telephone call (ISDN) instead of conventional methods save companies millions of dollars each year.

Despite how popular telephone conferencing is among business users (and personal users, Skype is a VoIP service which is very similar to telephone conferencing), it hasn’t changed a great deal over the years. The only big changes to this particular niche in the tech industry were when VoIP was introduced into the mix, and then of course when video conferencing came about.

What is VoIP?

voip, voice, over, ip, internet, protocol, blue, globe, tech, technology, icon, logo, shadow, reflection, emitting, radar, waveVoIP is the abbreviation of Voice over Internet Protocol, and the term basically covers any technologies, protocols, methodologies or equipment used in voice and video communications over ‘Internet Protocol’ networks like the internet.

If you’ve ever made an audio call on your computer using software like Skype, then you’ve made a VoIP call before! VoIP took off properly in 1994 with the first ever VoIP application being released – MTALK for Linux.

What is Video Conferencing?

Video conferencing is the same as a standard telephone conference, only with the addition of video. As long as you have a webcam or network camera, a computer and internet connection, then you can hold a video conference online.

man, dude, headset, webcam, video, conference, videoconference, telepresence, laptop, notebook, grey, icon. screen, shineVideo conferencing (also known as Telepresence) allows you to make your meetings and conferences more personal. If you were having a meeting with a client then a video conference would seem more welcoming than a telephone or text based conference, it’s as close as you can get to being ‘face-to-face’ without actually both being in the same room hence the term “Telepresence”.

 

Comparison: VoIP vs ISDN

VoIP

  • Overview: Uses software installed on your computer or mobile phone to place your call over the internet. It supports real-time, two-way transmission of conversations over Internet Protocol. It’s popular among business users as well as personal users, and can also include participants using a standard telephone.
  • Required Equipment: You will need VoIP Software, a computer with internet access, computer audio system and microphone.
  • Benefits: VoIP allows you to access calls anywhere there is an internet connection, it’s often much cheaper than teleconferencing, and often includes additional features and functionality like video conferencing or IM and file sharing features too.

Telephone Conferencing (ISDN)

  • Overview: Requires a conferencing service provider and places calls through telecommunication networks using a landline phone.
  • Required Equipment: You will need any standard telephone, a telecommunications service provider (you can also get special conference phones for meeting rooms if you need them).
  • Benefits: Telephone conferencing delivers the same audio quality as a regular telephone call, it’s as easy as placing a regular phone call and it works without an internet connection. Often these services include recording and playback services, and they are not impacted by internet usage limitations. You can also get 800 number conference call services that allow people to call in to the conference at no charge.

As you can see, VoIP conferencing and telephone conferencing both allow you to do the same thing, and perform the same functions, but different requirements are needed for each. The decision on which one is best for you and your business depends on your current setup and capabilities.

One of the best benefits of VoIP conferencing and conference calls is the price, it’s much cheaper than conventional methods of holding meetings and relaying information via conference and there are rarely extra costs involved for utilising services like video streaming and file sharing in IP based conferences.

If you work in a business or organization that isn’t making use of conference call technologies at the moment, then it’s definitely something you should be looking in to because it can save your company time and money!


For your information we have also attached an infographic around the comparison of VoIP and ISDN based telephone conferencing. Enjoy!

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Skype and the Telepresence Holiday Surprise

Skype brings Santa Claus into Classrooms via Telepresence

Skype picked three classrooms from across the world and provided the chance to have a telepresence session plus open Q&A with the person they were all waiting for – Santa Claus. The schools were also provided with a $10,000 Microsoft Store voucher each to give the children a better chance to be educated about high-end technology and software. Read the full story on the Skype Blog.

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Events like this enhance the public recognition of telepresence as a common way of communication which is also good for the industry in the end. Such initiatives can also be seen from LifeSize, who are frequently holding educational events open for schools to join. The recent release of the new Nintendo console with telepresence capabilities also greatly adds to increase the consumer feeling of video communication being a normal option for communication that might replace the text chat that was used until now.

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It is interesting to see that Skype / Microsoft continues to drive this even beyond the Skype integration in Microsoft Outlook and of course it is great to see how they do it and making children happy on the way to a unified solution  and interoperability (or interop in short) between home and enterprise users.

And while we are in the right spirit now, please allow me to wish happy holidays to all our readers on behalf of the whole Telepresence24.com team!


Santa in the Classroom

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylz60v4chfk]

Telepresence Technology Connect Remote Employees

The benefits of working in a home office and using telepresence from the perspective of the employee.

Seven years ago, I was pregnant with my son when my husband decided that it was imperative for me to find a job. At the time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby to go to work, and so I decided that even if it made my job search an arduous one, I would hold out for the opportunity to work from home.

I was lucky, and within a month or so, I was offered a web content writing position with a tiny, semi-local internet marketing firm. The manager wanted me to come in for weekly meetings, but preferred for me to do the rest of my work from a home office. The company was only occupying a small space at the time, and finding a place for me to work there would have been a difficult feat, so I was able to sign on for the remote work I wanted without inconveniencing my new employer. I was thrilled.

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When this …

The Early Stages

In the beginning, I had a lot of questions, and finding useful ways to stay in touch with my supervisor led me to investigate affordable video conferencing options. Often, I felt as though it would be easier for me to do my job if I could still see and interact with my co-workers as if they were right there in my home. We tried Skype and other free services, but eventually I began doing more work with clients, the company grew, and our sales team expanded. At that point, it became worthwhile to research and employ more advanced telepresence solutions both at home and in the office.

When my employer presented me with what seemed like a giant monitor and camera set up, I was initially uncomfortable. It wasn’t life-sized, but it was much more intimidating than popping up on his 13” laptop screen when we needed to work on a project. Still, the possibilities for collaboration were endless.

Afterwards

I used multipoint video conferencing from my home on the East Coast to present information to clients in California. When a new customer was having trouble understanding our service, I set up my HD video conferencing equipment, and used a white board and my computer screen to walk them through the process. Technology connected me to meetings, sales events, and significant opportunities, all from the comfort of my own home. It was an ideal way to work, especially with young children in the house.

As more and more companies begin seeking out talented employees while paying less mind to their location, the video conferencing industry has taken massive steps forward in connectivity, user-friendly operations, mobility, definition, and more. Remote workers are signing in from tablets, mobile phones, and advanced equipment alike, all in an attempt to stay close and connected while doing their jobs from afar. Some, like myself, are parents who need to be at home for their children. Others are simply located at a great distance from the businesses that can most benefit from their services. Many are freelancers, but many more are doing full-time work for large and small corporations.

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… turns to this.

The Future has Arrived

Telepresence solutions are increasing in affordability and quality as well, and as they do, I predict that more offices will shut down. Start-ups and small businesses will cut costs by eliminating monthly rent and allowing their employees to connect from home. This is the sort of technology that, when used correctly, can attract a wider base of clients and pull staff from the widest possible pool of talented individuals. Video conferencing isn’t just a high tech toy these days – it’s a real solution that can help businesses grow their bottom lines while also contributing to employee satisfaction, and it’s just another indication that the future we dreamed about years ago is finally here!