Collaboration Technology Supports the New Normal

Andrew Cadwell, President, Presidio West
02/25/13 at 04:50 am

Dynamic collaboration across enterprise and inter-enterprise boundaries represents “the new normal.” Organizations are now challenged to work closely with suppliers, partners and contractors to deliver their offerings in today’s high velocity markets.

“Web 2.0 tools such as video portals, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and discussion forums are changing the way in which information is created, published, managed, and consumed,” according to a recent report from Cisco. “Technology advances and the need to work outside of normal business hours and locations foster an increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. A flood of new devices and applications is entering the corporate IT environment as employees elect to merge consumer-based tools with standardized communications.”

As organizations grapple with global value chains, information overload, and more mobile workforces, they are challenged to embrace and integrate new collaboration capabilities.

“As the number of intra- and intercompany stakeholders increases, the number of collaborative tools and communication formats increases,” states the report. “In other words, the scope of collaboration must be broadened. It must combine document- and text-centric collaboration — such as email messaging, instant messaging (IM), team workspaces, and conferencing — with voice, video, and context to fully support the needs of the business.”



Cisco contends that enterprises will need to recognize several key principles as they implement collaboration technology and infrastructure in the coming years. Among them:

·      An interoperable, open architecture: As collaboration increasingly occurs across organizations and with people on the move, it is no longer a given that IT can control the devices and applications used in collaborative sessions. Today’s environment requires an interoperable, open architecture that allows for any device or application to use a core set of collaborative services.

·      Secure inter-company collaboration: Organizations will increasingly move from collaboration within functions to intra-company collaboration to inter-company collaboration. In this environment, securely enabling collaboration with partners, suppliers, and customers as if they were behind the firewall is fundamental.

·      Flexible deployment models: IT requires the flexibility to adjust to a dynamically changing business and technology environment. Enterprise and IT architects do not make decisions in the context of on-premises versus on-demand, but seek to couple the robustness, security, and performance of the enterprise network with the openness and flexibility of collaboration through the cloud.

Strategic planners in IT need to ensure they construct a core foundation that supports a rapidly evolving set of applications — one that also optimizes the various media types that comprise today’s collaborative experience. They’ll need an open architecture that secures collaboration and supports multiple approaches to deployment.

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Collaboration: Why Video and Why Now?

Dan Stephens, UC Practice Manager

Over the last two years I have been atop my soapbox screaming VIDEO…VIDEO…VIDEO! The one question that stumps the sales guys and customers alike is, Why? Why video and why now? It’s been around for 25 years and hasn’t gone viral so what is different about today. Three things are at the epicenter of this movement, Bandwidth, Quality and Relationship Management.

Bandwidth in the 80’s and early 90’s was calculated in bits per second, and in the late 90s to early 2000’s it moved to kilobits per second and now in the early 201x’s we are measuring bandwidth in the megabits and even gigabits per second. Video is about the experience; it’s about being able to talk to someone face to face without having the voice lag 2 seconds behind the facial movement. Bandwidth to present the moving pictures with high enough resolution to forget you are using video has begun to hit the market wholesale. Even 4G wireless carriers are bringing speeds between 50 – 100 MB to mobile devices. The bandwidth to our offices and homes is more stable and affordable than ever before. The bandwidth is here for video.

Quality is the ability to get the video from one device to another reliably every time. Now that we have conquered the size of the pipe we have to manage the flow control of the pipe. Quality of Service defines which data packets get priority on the wire. QOS has blossomed into a critical component of all networks as the telephony industry has moved away from traditional analogue PBXs to Voice over IP on converged networks carrying both voice and data on the same wire. With about 10 years of VoIP in the industry QOS is now both pervasive and considered high priority in a majority of corporate networks. QOS guarantees that voice and video data will receive priority over web surfing, music streaming and file sharing. The corporate investments in QOS for VoIP have created the ideal network to enable Video.

Relationship management moves us beyond the technical aspects of our conversation and into the reason for video in the first place, the experience. Video is not about communicating it is about communication. When one makes a phone call and talks to someone there is no doubt that you are communicating, but the subtleties of communication are missing. Facial expressions, eyes rolling, yawns, grins and frowns all say as much if not more than the words someone chooses to express. Communication builds relationships by capturing attention during the moment of the conversation and either builds trust or expresses visually points that one may feel are not being accepted as true via the individual hearing and seeing them. Managers want to see their employees, business partners want to see one another, team members want validation for ideas and numerous other use scenarios all rotate around the experience.

Relationship management can now us video collaboration because it has low cost bandwidth and pervasive quality to provide a real life experience. What are you doing to enable video?