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Video Conferencing: how do you like yours?

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We’ve been weaving through the evolution of video conferencing for a decade and more but never has it been more available than now.  Standards have improved, connectivity is ever-present and it’s affordable.  Time to get on board then…

Well, we’ve also been a bit traumatised by it: nightmares trying to get connected between different systems, on different networks, using different devices and software; it worked fine yesterday but not today.  You (and your boss) do not want to spend half your meeting time trying to get connected into a call.

So, having been burnt with this time and time again, what do we look for in a video conferencing systems?

First, is it easy?  Easy is hard and not everyone gets it right.  The trick we’ve found is to make the solutions as end-to-end as possible for the majority of use cases.  This means one source / vendor for the overall service including rooms systems, software, web access and – so far as possible – networking.  Of course we want to be able to speak to over a single systems whether they’re connected via a tin can or a dedicated telepresence suite but 90% of the time you can train and encourage people to follow your lead and work in a way you know will work.

Second, is it easy?  The user experience has to be easy for everyone whether they use video conferencing every day or once a year.  The chairman of the board needs to be able to walk into your boardroom, click one button and make it work.  If it’s that good, they will be flattered and you’ll be rewarded.

Third, is it easy?  Good video conferencing has traditionally been known as expensive and complex.  However, the biggest cost or opportunity of any technical solution is really the time it saves or consumes around the business.  If people like and use video conferencing more and more, they’ll promote it in the business and you’ll recoup and save and any costs quickly and deliver long term benefits.  If it carries a burden of support or people aren’t confident in it then uptake will be low and the ROI will be low.

Finally, you’re going to ask yourself how it fits in with your existing investments in telephony, collaboration, email and all the rest.  The buzz-words are Skype for Business, WebRTC and SIP.  You want to be able to play nicely with all these and ideally integrate with Office 365 or Google Cloud with calendar and meeting invitations.

So, the sort of features we’re looking for include:

  • Network / firewall agnostic connections: avoid complex or potentially hard-to-support protocols such as SIP within your network at least.  Let the service provider take the strain.
  • Cloud based provisioning and management – if you can easily see what’s going on in your remote offices, you’ll be better able to support your colleagues
  • A variety of tailored endpoint options:
    • Small and large scale room systems
    • Web clients
    • PC / Mac Applications
    • Mobile clients
  • Skype for Business, SIP and H.323 integration

The list can go on on and on.

Starleaf GTm 5140 Skype for Business Room Systems

Starleaf touch screen video conferencing

Luckily, over the past few months, we’ve found a vendor who we feel represents all these value and provides a great foundation in this rapidly evolving world.

Starleaf offer both dedicated Starleaf Cloud solutions with mobile, web, desktop endpoints and room systems, or full Skype for Business integrated room systems with unique integration features and the best user experience we’ve seen.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say so all we can suggest is to try them.

You can set yourself up with a free trial here: https://www.starleaf.com/signup or for more information, a free assessment of VC in your organisation or to arrange a demonstration, just contact us at Stripe OLT on 020 7043 7044 or 0117 974 5179.