Opinion: Evaluating a UC solution

It’s important to start with the end game in sight. Where do you see video adding value to your business and how do you decide what video solution is right for you?

Previously, we looked at the rise of the collaborative workplace and the role unified communications (UC) is playing in this. The next step in the UC journey is thinking about evaluation.

It’s important to start with the end game in sight. Where do you see video adding value to your business and how do you decide what video solution is right for you?

The most successful use of video we’ve seen is where our customers have spent time really thinking about their business model, their teams, their customers, the supporting network infrastructure, and business processes. If you are responsible for IT, this means sitting down with your management team and identifying how video will add value and drive revenue growth across all areas of your business. Undertaking this evaluation upfront will be time well spent and it will deliver returns when you start getting involved in partner and vendor negotiations.

Encouraging people to make the behaviour changes needed to accept new technologies remains one of the IT department’s biggest challenges.

When considering user adoption, my advice is stick with what you know.

If you choose a solution where you have to type an IP address or some other long acronym it can be difficult and time consuming and your video investment risks becoming an overpriced room dressing.

However, if you select a system that delivers a simple user interface that people are familiar with, then adoption becomes much easier.

In 90% of meetings we share content. Your video solution should be able to deliver the same content sharing tools remotely that you would have access to face-to-face. Effective video collaboration enables you to see and share content like spreadsheets and presentations in real time which improves collaboration, decision making and engagement.

When thinking about your digital content requirements, it comes back to understanding your company and your business processes. What type of information do your people need to share and receive in order to get the job done? Are your people predominately office based or do you have mobile workers who need remote access to share content and attend meetings while on the move?

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This will then help determine the type of video collaboration solution and supporting network bandwidth that will best suit your needs.

There are no magic bullets - it may seem like more work, but spending time doing your homework upfront definitely pays off. You will have a far more productive conversation with partners and vendors if you already have an idea of where you need video to make an impact.

Ten questions to evaluate a solution

1. Who will be the main users of video in your workplace? : office based workers, mobile workers, vendors or customers?

2. How will video be used: group meetings, sharing content, HR recruitment and training, one-on-one conversations, customer meetings or multiple uses?

3. Where do you want video available: conference rooms, small meeting rooms, desktops, smartphones, tablets, laptops or a combination of the above?

4. What standard of experience will users demand: high-definition (HD) video and audio, traditional conference style, split screens, flexible anytime, anywhere connectivity?

5. What content needs to be shared: spreadsheets, diagrams, presentations or video?

6. Do you need to collaborate in real time:? such as remote teams working together on shared work files or using digital whiteboards?

7. Is it open standards and inter-operable?: does it have the flexibility to integrate and work with existing network infrastructure and other vendors?

8. Will the investment be future-proofed?: can the solution be updated to maintain relevance with changing technology?

9. Is your network prepared?: do you have the right bandwidth and quality of service to support increased collaboration - sending and receiving high definition (HD) content?

10. Are your network connections secure?

The next article will go deeper into the area of mobility and BYOD and how to make this work to your advantage within your video collaboration strategy.

Gary Denman took over as MD of Polycom A/NZ in April 2012. In this role, Gary is responsible for developing the long-term business growth and market strategy for the ANZ region.

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