Category Unified Communications

Making Sense of Unified Communications at InfoComm 2015

Joe Laezza speaks at InfoComm session on Unified Communications

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In my previous post, I touched on first-day impressions of InfoComm 2015, and the ideas that emerged from a session on “Workspaces for Tomorrow.”

Now I want to recap the IMCCA meeting that followed, “UC as a Service: Has the Cloud Changed Our Sweet Spot?” The lively Simon Dudley, who accurately calls himself a Chief Contrarian, led a group of panelists that included experts from Polycom, Starleaf, Cisco, AVI-SPL, Videxio, and Blue Jeans. The session started with Simon posing a simple but thorny question: “What is unified communications?”

One response described it as video, content, audio, instant messaging, and email all brought together, which felt a bit incomplete. Another definition put it in terms of actions rather than technology: talk, connect, share, and be able to look back at what was covered. The Blue Jeans panelist provided an answer that gave context to the others: UC provides the ability to shift from any form of communication to another.

Joe Laezza, AVI-SPL SVP of UCC and Service Solutions, followed that line of thinking by asserting that UC is not a technology, but rather an application.

Other highlights from the panel:

  • Small companies can have the same collaboration tools as those used by larger ones.
  • Solutions have to suit the means of communication. I took this to mean that unified communications systems must unify those devices people prefer to use when they connect and collaborate with one another.
  • The convenience afforded by a technology surpasses any other benefit a supplier may use to convince a customer.
  • The supplier of unified communications technology is often as important as the technology itself, as clients will need ongoing support for their systems.
  • Combinations of cloud and on-premise solutions will give end users the quality and convenience they want.
  • Context and content will become more important as collaborators have multi-site video sessions between their in-person meetings.
  • Cloud-hosted UC services will become more secure than those kept on-premise.
  • Three years from now, the UC market will be dominated by a small number of video-in-the-cloud carriers. This should be a good development, as the cloud, because it removes pressure off of IT departments, is putting business decisions in the hands of business people.

Check in later today for some thoughts on day 2 of InfoComm 2015

 

 

 

Thoughts on the First Day at InfoComm 2015

InfoComm 2015 signage

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Well, day one of the InfoComm 2015 exhibition is in the books. This is my third year at the show, but the first time I felt my industry knowledge had grown such that I wondered if three days would be enough to take it all in as I walked the expansive, seemingly endless exhibit floor.

The north end of the hall is dominated by visual marvels in the form of huge video walls; below them, companies are eager to demonstrate all manner of collaboration solutions. I “oohed” and “aahed” at the sight of holographic objects floating in space, at a robotic base of the type used in motion rides, and at a magician who somehow made a guest’s wrist band appear within the innermost of a series of nested locked boxes. The attempt to tie in the sleight of hand with the sponsor’s products was forced and none too convincing, but at least it was entertaining and didn’t have the desperation of those who hired booth babes whose sole purpose, it seemed, was merely to scan badges.

Nothing stimulated me as much as the discussions held on the third level of the Orange County Convention Center in room 315A. There, in consecutive sessions, panels of industry experts gave their thoughts on “Workspaces for Tomorrow” and “UC as a Service.” Both of these were reflective and inward looking while also giving attendees a sense of where collaborative technologies are moving and how they are likely to affect the organizations that use them.

 

 

Workspaces for Tomorrow

David Danto, director of emerging technologies  for the IMCCA (Interactive Multimedia and Collaborative Communications Alliance), which sponsored the session, set the context by comparing the way we worked in 1985 to today. That comparison led to his observation that remote working is now the norm, and that collaborative technology affords us the ability to have the same experience of camaraderie as we do in the home office. From there, his astute panelists (including AVI-SPL‘s Danny Rogers, VP of global channels) offered their considered thoughts on the politics of onsite vs. offsite work, the need for simplicity, and how to improve work culture with collaboration tools. Below, I’ve summarized some of the salient points of the discussion:Danny Rogers speaks at IMCCA session at InfoComm 2015

  • Remote working is the norm, but we still require onsite workspaces that are easy to use, that value simplicity (because the technology supports real needs) and tie together meeting rooms, desktops, and our mobile devices
  • Some of the workspaces that we work in today and tomorrow include intelligent open spaces, quiet booths, and huddle rooms. That’s because we’re trending with simplicity, which supports flexible workflows. Think of it this way: the easier the technology is to use, the more likely we are to use systems on an as-needed basis to work through tasks.
  • Companies need to get past the mindset that if you’re not working in the office, you’re not working. As David (and others have said before), work is not where we are, but what we do. For David, that consists of being able to get out of bed and simply walking down to his basement office. Danny gave an example of his day — waking up at 5am, working for a couple of hours, getting in a workout, then spending the balance of his day on business and the occasional personal errand. This, he asserted, frees him to work much later in the day than he would if his day were dictated entirely by a 9-to-5 office schedule.
  • Technology advances have freed us up to work together on an ad hoc basis, and are supporting our need to create ideas together.
  • One attendee noted the idea that being able to leave the office to work can replace a sense of team with the concept of employees as commodities. But as the panelist from Acano noted, “culture trumps technology.” And while changing a company culture can take time, if the culture embraces collaborative technology, people can feel they are indeed part of a team.
  • Danny, who works primarily from the U.K., noted how close he felt to someone from Florida with whom he had only ever communicated with over video for two years.
  • Working remotely emphasizes the need to deliver results. Once management understands that its people aren’t working eight hours straight, they can focus on what’s important — results.
  • Collaborative technology does not replace, but rather augments the in-person meeting. It fills in the gaps to keep people and groups connected so that items can be addressed before the next meeting at a common, physical location.
  • When it comes to working in the office, we want to bring our preferred devices to collaborate. That’s because, as Danny noted, the consumer and consumer technology are driving business change.
  • Understand where you want to improve work operations and don’t be afraid to make mistakes with technology. Be an advocate of change, and find the tools that overcome hurdles.
  • Recommendation for companies: Simplify what you already have — bring together audio, video and the web. Experiences need to be easy to use and applicable to every environment.

That concept of “unification” of technology is a satisfactory segue into the session that followed on unified communications. Please check in with this AVI-SPL blog on June 18, when I will review the takeaways from that talk, which featured experts from Polycom, Cisco, and AVI-SPL, among others.

InfoComm’s UCC Solutions Summit is Back

UCC SummitIf you’re attending InfoComm 2015, then this post is for you. (And even if you’re not coming to the AV industry’s biggest show this side of the Atlantic, at least have a quick look at the ways experts will approach the topic of business collaboration.)

Attendees, chances are you’re in travel mode — packing, double-checking flight plans, making a list of everything you plan to accomplish while in Orlando. May I suggest you add to your itinerary some sessions on unified communications?

The UCC Solutions Summit, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday, will look at (to quote the brochure) “what works, what needs improvement and what is about to change.” And what you need to do to enable UCC in your organization.

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY LUNCH AND LEARN

Lunch is good. Learning is good. So InfoComm is bringing them both together where industry experts and senior executives address the latest issues related to conferencing, collaboration and unified communications. Attend the luncheon to nosh, ask questions and challenge the panelists, including Tim Riek, AVI-SPL SVP of Service Operations.

WORKSPACES OF TOMORROW

Learn about the new work environments and policies that have proven to be a success for organizations. Panelists, including Danny Rogers, AVi-SPL VP of Global Channels, will discuss how activity-based working and smarter working are changing office design.

UC AS A SERVICE – HAS THE CLOUD CHANGED OUR SWEET SPOT?

This session will address the pros and cons of the various Collaboration as a Service options and explain what you need to know in order to use them effectively. Joseph Laezza, AVI-SPL SVP of UCC and Service Solutions, will be among the experts discussing the impact of cloud offerings.

Even if you’re not going to InfoComm 2015 — no worries. You can still connect with our experts at 866-559-8197 or sales@avispl.com.

What to Look for at InfoComm 2015

InfoComm show logoInfoComm 2015 is upon us — the exhibition runs from June 17-19 — and this year’s show brings the annual anticipation over what new trends we can expect to hear about and the new products for organizations.

Joseph Laezza, AVI-SPL SVP UCC and Service Solutions, offers his insight as to what this year’s show may reveal.

At InfoComm this year, I would expect to see and hear a lot about the following trends:

1. Workplace transformation – This is one of the hottest topics in the audio-visual and collaboration space industry as it relates to technologies, solutions, and integration. With dispersed workforces becoming mainstream, the millennial generation entering the workplace, and mobile technologies dominating the workplace demand, most businesses of all sizes are endeavoring upon the transformation of their workplace and collaboration solutions. There is a significant amount of technology refresh, and AV and collaboration evaluation among the business communities underway as a result.

2. Collaboration solutions for the new workplace – As with the trends and movement toward the next level of mobile workforce and workplace transformation, the technologies and solutions are rapidly changing. Software-based solutions and cloud deployments will dominate the trends here.

3. 4K UHD curved commercial displays and monitors – The new generation of Ultra HD displays are making their way into the commercial space and will take advantage of the trends in workplace transformation.

Companies to keep an eye on:

1. Microsoft – This year at InfoComm, Microsoft Skype for Business, and other collaboration solutions and technologies will be on heavy display. They will not only be demonstrating the “new Lync” now branded “Skype for business” heavily, but they will also be unveiling their new surface technologies for the collaboration space called “Surface Hub,” a large, 4k, all-in-one display.

2. Cisco and Polycom – Expect to see a common theme supporting the workplace transformation trends and technologies and solutions that are more interoperable and mobile than they’ve been in the past.

3. Acano and PexIP – Their new software-based infrastructure technologies are powering the collaboration solutions in the new generation of workplace.

4. Sony and Samsung – They will likely place HUGE ultra HD displays in the front of their showcases as usual, but this year I would expect to start seeing the consumer-like technologies such as the curved UHD display in their commercial-grade forms.

 

If you will be at this year’s InfoComm, be sure to attend the Wed., June 17 session “UC as a Service: Has the Cloud Changed Our Sweet Spot?” Joseph Laezza will be among the experts discussing the pros and cons of Collaboration as a Service options. Read the synopsis and register here.

See InfoComm 2015 With AVI-SPL

Next week, tens of thousands of people will descend upon the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for InfoComm 2015. While there, they’ll see the latest audiovisual and video communication systems meant to improve the way organizations of all types run their operations.

The company I work for, AVI-SPL, will be there too, demonstrating and explaining our ability to take those products and turn them into solutions for unified communications, digital signage, integrated AV, advanced visualization, control room spaces and video collaboration.

To help guide visitors seeking to learn about AVI-SPL and why we are the integrator and end-to-end solutions provider trusted by thousands of companies, we’ve created our own InfoComm show page. At this page, we have the schedule of speaking engagements featuring our experts; the schedule of our guided technology tour of booths for Microsoft, Crestron and more; and a form for getting in touch with us.

We look forward to seeing you at the show.