David Danto, Jules Trono, Simon Dudley, and David Maldow (some of our favorite unified communications influencers on twitter) discussed some of the big themes and products at InfoComm 2015 – what they liked, what they hated etc. In addition to the brief discussion on the logistics of the event itself, “Drones” and AV, there were a few thought-provoking points in this discussion that I want to point out. Check out the highlights below.

 

 

Interoperability Is Achievable.

One of the most important themes of this year’s Infocomm event, and one that separates it from events prior is the lack of discussion around interoperability. As technologist David Danto puts it – at this point we all know interoperability is achievable (paraphrasing a tad). Manufacturers build products that work seamlessly with other products because businesses and consumers alike expect it to work when they plug it in. Danto also mentions that video technology innovators like Acano with their Microsoft (s4B) integration demonstrate how interoperability is expected today, not just a bonus feature. This conversation ultimately leads to an important question about the new role of the systems integrator. Where do systems integrators fit in when all UC and video products play nicely together out of the box?

Plug And Play Products

Overall, this group of industry experts had nothing but great things to say about the products on the exhibition floor. From the “Prism” to interactive whiteboards, it appears that every piece of technology is making the leap from, “this is easy for my IT person to understand” to “this is so easy that the user can operate the technology without assistance”. The new video conferencing interactive wall technology had mixed reviews overall, but the consensus was that the product demonstrated excellent plug & play capabilities.

David Maldow of Let’s Do Video brings it back to the topic of the systems integrator role and says that no one is pushing back on products that are making it easier for everyone to use. The next task for systems integrators is defining value and carving out a new place within this new plug & play model that video conferencing technologies and unified communications are adopting. For example, as opposed to having the IT person deploy new products and check back in with the users in six months later only to find that they haven’t been using the technology right; systems integrators can now step in earlier and teach users how to get the most out of these products right away.

Meet me at the bridge

Jules Trono talks about the shift to personal meeting rooms to further reinforce this big idea of interoperability being the norm in the video collaboration space. In the cloud services, it’s much more of a “meet me”, rather than engaging with someone directly on the phone. Phone calls and answering machines are becoming less and less normal these days and are being replaced with IM’s that say “are you ready to meet?”.  All you have to do at this point is say “yes, I’m ready to meet”, and drop the url to your meeting room where anyone can connect via their preferred real-time communication client.

And now, rather than worrying about which client it is, it’s “meet at the bridge” according to Jules. I love this discussion and the Acanos and Pexips of the world will too. Rather than being “machine-gunned” in the face with technology first, we start off by simply talking about how humans like to interact in 2015. A User-inspired design is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the video space now that the technology works everything out for you. I’ll save the discussion on millennials for another article.

Remote workers create REAL savings.

To answer the question that one of our previous articles brings up, yes, we can finally put the “video replaces travel” myth to bed. Danto talks about this in the video, showing the difference between travel budget savings and real savings with more remote workers. When talking about video ROI, the shift to more remote workers creates in an organization the REAL savings, separate from travel budget savings. Working remotely saves the company on utility costs and other offices expenses to host an employee M-F 9:00 – 5:00, and plus it saves the worker a commute. If the idea of the virtual office REALLY took hold, we might even be able to save the world from a good percentage of toxic emissions.

Stop Chasing The Dollar

To wrap up on the discussion about video in the modern workplace and the virtual office. Simon Dudley gives the example of how much of an impact video can have on one employee’s life. When you’re 25, moving cities to work at another branch might not be that difficult as opposed to moving cities when you’re 35. Instead of having employees pack up their families, move the kids to new schools and literally “chase the dollar”, video can help save someone in your organization a LOT of trouble. This way of thinking, or rethinking the way we communicate and travel in the workplace, is what is going to help make video more pervasive in our world. We just have to start today.

If you have time, I definitely recommend watching this recap as I’m sure their are some great points that I might have missed. Thank you David Danto, Jules Trono, Simon Dudley, and David Maldow for having these discussions and posting them online! Very excited about what has happened in recent years as well as what’s in store for the video / UC industry in the future.

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