Video is all around us. It’s the YouTube/FaceTime era and there is no escape. Rather than fight it, companies must embrace the idea that their employees want – and increasingly expect – to be able to participate in videoconferences with their colleagues, partners and customers no matter what device they may be using.
Faced with that challenge, IT naturally has lots of questions. To find out what the most common questions are, we asked Dan Hofferty, National Sales Director for Carousel Industries. He came up with four common questions with respect to videoconferencing.
1. How Do I Deal with Videoconferences from Mobile Devices?
“The most frequently asked question is certainly on the mobility piece,” Hofferty says. “There’s lots of ‘bring your own device’ in organizations and companies are looking to enable video with tablets and smart phones to allow employees to make video calls from anywhere, anytime – hotels, airports, wherever.”
The key to enabling truly functional mobile video is to have a sound core infrastructure in place. While you can download a free video client, all that will get you is the ability to connect point-to-point via video, he says. A converged management application (CMA), on the other hand, enables capabilities such as a 4-digit dialing plan, so employees don’t have to worry about using different IP addresses depending on where they might be. That makes video calling much simpler, which is a crucial requirement, Hofferty says. Registering with a CMA also enables clients to share content with each other, whether online documents, PowerPoint presentations or anything else.
2. How Do I Prepare My Network for Video?
The next question companies typically ask is what they need to do to ensure their network is video-ready, such that video traffic doesn’t adversely affect other critical voice and data applications. “There’s a whole network design and consulting piece that we talk to customers about, to make sure you have bandwidth available, plan for quality of service, prioritization and that kind of thing,” Hofferty says. “Otherwise you get collisions, lost packets, latency, jitter and poor video quality. If you invest in video but don’t have the proper network infrastructure in place, people will have a poor experience and go back to the phone.”
Carousel has a data-networking division that Hofferty’s team works closely with to identify any network bottlenecks and recommend fixes, while also coming up with a security plan – another crucial component.
3. How Do I Best Integrate Video with Unified Communications?
Videoconferencing is often part of a larger unified communications (UC) effort, so customers ask about best practices with respect to integrating video into their UC solution, Hofferty says. They’re looking for features such as the ability to launch a video call from a contact list as well as presence capabilities. Presence involves knowing when a person is available and what means of communications they have available at any given time, including phone, video, and instant messaging. “If I prefer a video call, are they using a desktop or room-based system, or are they on the road using their iPad? Best practices involve implementing a system that will tell you all of that,” he says.
4. How Do I Integrate Video with My Existing AV System?
The most crucial aspect of enabling video in conference rooms is ensuring the user experience is the same from room to room, Hofferty says. “We’ll go into one location and video is set up to use the remote to make a call while another room has a control system you have to use to launch the call,” he says. “We try to get folks to have a consistent user experience no matter what conference room they’re in. It helps with training and making sure users have an easy way to launch calls.”
Companies also need to plan their rooms according to the expected use, with microphones and speakers placed appropriate so that everyone can hear. “Some rooms might have a camera on your presenter at the front and have them mic’d,” he says. “But if it’s a training room, you have to prepare for others to participate by having a mic available to them or have the whole room mic’d up.”