As regular followers of The UC Buyer know, we love sharing the latest on how organizations are using communications technology to improve and grow their businesses. One area that many companies are especially interested in is video collaboration – and particularly in enterprise-scale video projects. To delve into the current state of enterprise video collaboration, I recently spoke with Joe Arena, Senior Vice President of Advanced Services at Yorktel – you can hear the whole podcast interview here.
For those who aren’t aware, Yorktel is a leading business in enterprise video implementation and management. With more than 10,000 systems under management worldwide, they partner with some of the largest businesses and government agencies around the globe. I wanted to know from an industry expert how organizations can take full advantage of video collaboration, and make it work best for their business. In particular I wanted to understand what it really takes to assess the needs and to implement a successful enterprise-quality video collaboration project from start to finish.
First Step: Perform a Detailed Video Conferencing and Collaboration Assessment
To be clear, I recognize that video conferencing has been happening for decades with varying degrees of success. However, many projects that set out to offer seamless and high-quality video collaboration across the enterprise fall well short of the mark. So, what does it really take for businesses to succeed in providing the platform, tools and user experience that this valuable medium promises? Joe explained that executing on an accurate and detailed assessment project as a first step is a crucial component that’s often overlooked.
The process of performing a detailed video collaboration needs assessment involves many steps, as well as understanding the answers to some critical questions. These include:
Understanding the user community. You need to identify the stakeholders who will be using the video service, and how they will be collaborating. Video users from different departments and with different needs will undoubtedly use the service differently. For this reason it is recommended that the assessment be used to identify the various employee needs, and create a user persona map detailing the results.
Know where your video collaborators are located. Will the service be used by remote workers and those working from home? Will it be used by sales staff from the road? The answer to these questions will help determine the type of client and connections required.
Define platforms and tools. Will users be connecting from their laptops and desktops? From their mobile devices? What role does unified communications and collaboration software currently play in the enterprise? Video conferencing has traditionally been a conference room experience, but with all of the technology available today, people are jumping on from all over the place on various devices and expect to have great functionality beyond the conference room.
Consider the backend service and infrastructure. Will the video conferencing platform be run on premise, or as a cloud service? There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and the factors that go into making this decision involve careful consideration of the existing capabilities.
Consider the network. Along with the server and data center capabilities, the capacity of the network must be given careful consideration. In order to provide a high-quality user experience, the network must be able to handle a sufficient number of concurrent video connections.
Understand the support model. The question of how video conferencing will be supported within the company is another often overlooked issue. Will there be dedicated helpdesk and support personnel? How about training for the users of the service? Connected to the support model is the necessity of the IT team proactively monitoring performance and maintaining the infrastructure and the network.
The Output of a Video Assessment Project
So what should a company expect to come out of a video assessment? Joe walked me through the result, which should include the following at a minimum:
A business case or quantification of needs. In the past this may have been something like financial justification achieved through reducing travel expenses. Today this is more about people being able to collaborate anywhere, at any time. This is now far more about increasing productivity than it is about saving a one-time expense.
An understanding of whether and how existing technology can be leveraged. Where are we today, what tools and software do we have and will we be starting from scratch or building upon an existing video collaboration or UC platform?
User experience assessment. What are the conference-room locations like? Are they conducive to video collaboration? What about huddle rooms? Are locations and experiences throughout the organization consistent? What do we need to deliver to home workers to make their experience seamless and powerful.
With so much riding on the output of a video conferencing implementation, it is critical to start with a solid plan. I’d like to thank Joe for his insights into some of the best practices Yorktel helps their clients address. It is definitely worth a listen the whole way through! What about your business? Are there additional areas you feel like you need to address or have included in your video planning efforts? Let us know in the comments section below.