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Video – the new shared meeting space

Author : Mike Blackman, Integrated System Events managing director

16 January 2017

Video collaboration and communication systems are the corporate and public sector’s AV tools of choice. Regardless of application in enterprise or civil service circles, video communication is in overriding demand with real-time face-to-face collaboration the key.

Mike Blackman

“There is a fundamental move toward large scale deployments of standard, easy-to-use cost effective collaboration and communication solutions,” asserts Jon Sidwick, vice president of AV distributor and SI Maverick.

“The days of the high end bespoke ‘video conference room’ are being replaced by a ubiquitous approach to AV in all meeting spaces from offices and meeting rooms to huddle spaces and even shared areas such as canteens.”

According to Paul Childerhouse, group director at Pioneer Group, the trend in corporate AV is toward all-in-one collaboration systems which incorporate video conferencing, presentation systems and audio:

“The ability to walk into a room and share content simply from your mobile, laptop, tablet or any device is the way corporate AV is moving,” he says.

“People work by sharing things, scribbling down notes and comparing designs, processes and ideas; whatever your work entails. Wireless technology and connectivity is making this even easier and more intuitive.

“People already use their phones do that for their personal meetings, and we’re now at a point where technology lets us do that in the business meeting room, too,” he continues.

“The old meeting rooms from 10 years ago presented a one-way solution; there was a screen that a person ran. Now people can interject with their own content from their own technology to make a point, which just wasn’t possible before.”

All of this fluidity and flexibility tends to make for a more creative workplace.

“In the workplace of the future it’s going to be a case of ‘innovate or die’,” emphasises Ray McGroarty, global director for Enterprise UC Solutions at Polycom.

“In order to be innovative, organisations need to foster a culture of creativity. One of the best ways of doing this is to let people work when they can perform at their best and from wherever they are most inspired and efficient.

"Flexible hours and a location-agnostic approach to the workplace are going to be essential in unlocking the great ideas within most corporation’s most valuable asset; people.”

Jim Harwood, managing director at AV integrator Focus 21 agrees that clients are looking for collaborative and connected solutions but with one simple interface and management platform that makes their day to day maintenance and operation easy.

“What’s missing is the connection between the needs of someone in the enterprise space and feeding that data back to desktop applications,” he says.

“Skype For Business, for example, is a great connected solution for desktop and huddle rooms but is not as effective in large screen auditoriums and meeting spaces, meaning two different systems need to be implemented making it complicated for the user to move between the two.”

A single projector or presentation display is often an inhibitor to collaboration as it’s a bottleneck to the amount of visual information that can be shared at any point in time.

Beyond time being wasted while physically managing cables to switch from one device to another, decision making is hindered when you’re dealing with incomplete data.

“For true collaboration you often need to view content from more than one participant at a time,” argues Dave Kung, VP of Product Strategy at Oblong Industries.

“Imagine, for example, any project where you need to consider budget, scope, and time to assess your situation and make decisions.

"Multi-display systems [like Oblong’s own Mezzanine] provide teams with a dynamic and physically immersive canvas to share content. Participants then have the vital content they need to perform at their best, where data from multiple sources can be easily shared, viewed, and choreographed simultaneously.”

Video solutions are particularly important to the state machinery. From summits between presidents to enhancing citizen engagement, video collaboration solutions, allow government bodies to conduct face-to-face meetings ideally resulting in improved coordination and faster decision-making.

Services can be offered in different languages, which becomes crucial in countries where immigrant communities are thriving.

AV solutions are also used in the justice system create to reduce the amount of time it takes to handle cases.

“This helps reduce the costs and risks associated with transporting offenders and inmates between facilities such as prisons and courts,” says Andrew Graley, Polycom, Director - Healthcare, Education & Government.

“Video collaboration technology also allows for witnesses to be interviewed remotely and, more importantly, for testimonies to be given from secure locations; which is often a key concern in difficult cases.”

The public sector is no longer playing second fiddle to the private sector in terms of digital communication, reckons Steve Smith, UK Sales Director for Oblong Industries.

“We see public service sectors now embracing the realities of the digital age. Once lagging behind the private sector, we now see the public sector driving a technological leapfrog to the future.

"As they attempt to integrate legacy systems with more modern applications, they realise that there are very few platforms available today that will enable a workflow that combines all of these disparate tracks fluidly, simultaneously, and with the capability of embracing the future.”

Public sector organisations must, often by law, digest, synthesise and act on extreme quantities of data and information in real time.

“Without Infopresence - that is to say the ability and experience of bringing together all of your vital content - team members and data in the most effective fashion, decision-making is compromised.

"It is important for growing public sector organisations to understand the value of real time immersive visual collaboration wherever they, and their teams, are operating.”

Video content management has a huge part to play in the public sector, for internal training for staff, and as a resource library for citizens.

National and regional governmental organisations can create video libraries of content with advice on healthcare, education, tax, finance and more. Many such services already record calls for due diligence and training purposes.

“The increased use of video comms means that services need to record and store this content in a searchable way, like they would audio calls or emails,” says Graley.

“This will become more prevalent in the future, as more services go digital.”

A broad trend driving change across the public sector is delivering on the expectation which consumers have for receiving information by video whether that’s over digital signage or more personalised environments like meeting rooms or IPTV in schools and hospitals.

A case in point is Coventry City Council which deployed a signage and IPTV solution to deliver internal messaging, TV into communal and public spaces and a more modern approach to visitor communications.

Fourteen screens with Amino STB players were implemented at the council’s head office with Tripleplay Services software used to manage bespoke content.

“Digital media is integral to people's daily lives; they see it in the high street, they interact with it on their phones, so when they go to see their local government why should that be any different?” argues Tripleplay marketing manager, James Keen.

“Digital communication is a massive expectation among users which county councils are having to embrace.”

Challenges are emerging with regards to security and network access as BYOD becomes a more common expectation.

“This is happening more so in this market than in others,” says Harwood.

“In education, for example, the focus is on sharing data but in corporate and government the aim is to protect it. Manufacturers need to be addressing this and provide solutions that improve daily working practices whilst ensuring high security.”

Indeed, governments are more than ever concerned about security and cyber threats. For instance, before RealPresence Centro became part of NATO’s operations, it had to be cleared as a secure solution and be integrated into its restricted network.


Green energy sustainability is another increasingly important consideration. Some estimates put Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the source of between 2% and 3% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

The worldwide and European standard bodies, ITU-T and ETSI, have collaborated in the definition of a number of standards which, in part, allow organisations to determine the environmental impact of ICT project and deployments.

This should allow for more consensus around effects and the level of scrutiny of solutions.

“Sustainability and energy efficiency is really key in government installations,” reports David Crafton, VP of federal sales for SiliconCore.

“Efficient power and heat management can be particularly crucial in this sector; many installations are in very secure areas with space constraints so high heat output would be completely unmanageable.”

Perhaps the biggest sustainability change that AV tech is driving is the ability to hold remote meetings.

“You might initially think that sustainability is all about power consumption, but there’s a whole different side of the coin in terms of environmental impact that this generation of high-quality VC is having,” says Childerhouse. ISE 2017 takes place from 7-10 February 2017.

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