A Virtual Meeting Room is a versatile tool because it has two fundamental advantages:
1. It connects different devices and platforms for face to face meetings.
- Devices the users are familiar with.
2. The devices it connects are many and varied and so it delivers True Flexibility to the IT team.
- Connecting devices that the IT team already have, or the Customers their increasingly being asked to connect to, already have.
- The Flexibility means that you can tackle a whole variety of use cases, which we are going to cover here at a high level to demonstrate the breadth of versatility and variety of Virtual Meeting Room uses.
We will split the uses cases into three categories:
- Those the help IT solve tactical issues.
- Those that solve Platform Connectivity issues.
- Those that help Business leaders solve teamwork or tactical issues.
The First IT issue is office communication, face to face internally beyond Skype for Business and then with outside parties. We will call those external parties your eco system for the benefit of this blog.
There are couple of dimensions here as Virtual Meeting Rooms help with the first big step which is:
How do I connect everything we have Internally so we can Meet Face to Face?
Starting Internally, is a good place to start. What we call 3D communication is becoming very popular for a variety of very good reasons that go way beyond Skype for Business and other collaboration tools:
3D Communication with images and body language
1. This upgrades voice based audio conferencing and screen and audio based web conferencing into TRUE Face to Face Meetings, where you can share content, record meetings, Stream meetings etc.
2. Why is this an upgrade?
- firstly seeing images, scientists have shown that you absorb IMAGE CONTENT 60,000 times fast than you do word content. So the speed people can grasp ideas and concepts when you can share images across different devices and platforms is a huge collaboration advantage.
- secondly, body language, people have argued important meetings should always be face to face and they are right. The fact that you can share Visual Images and See body language so you can sense the more subtle messages means that Virtual Meeting Rooms with HD quality deliver, either the same quality of experience as you get meeting face to face or very near it. Body language has been shown to deliver up to 55% of a meetings true message.
Here is where the real advantages start to occur, once the business buys into the Face to Face Meeting as a minimum standard of meeting:
IT Teams can now consolidate the suppliers of Audio, Web sharing tools and have one across platform and device answer to connecting all their devices and platforms. Quite often the additional cost of Virtual Meeting Rooms can be offset by moving away from Audio and web sharing tools.
You can deploy Virtual Meeting Rooms as widely as Audio conferencing accounts using pay as you go tariffs for example.
Make sure you do not get tied into annual room tariffs and minimum room order quantities that can escalate costs and remove the flexibility that monthly tariffs and PAY AS YOU GO per minute tariffs offer.
A South West legal company saved 40% against BT conferencing using the Pay as you Go 2.5p/m audio tariff.
Upgrade to Virtual Meeting Rooms and Consolidate Suppliers Summary
Consolidating suppliers, cutting audio and web sharing suppliers, whilst benefiting from the communications upgrade 3D face to face communication offers is a logical option.
Secondly, the Any Device Flexibility gives you the option to connect audio callers to Skype for Business from local call charge numbers, as one example.
Thirdly those with Skype for Business can connect their video fleet in their boardrooms. This is very simple and has the benefit of using native Microsoft features. Why are native features important?
1. No downloads or plugins to deal with which makes the IT lifting non-existent.
2. The User have no new processes to learn - no new workflows
How do you Implement it?
Firstly there are several ways:
- Adhoc Connectivity
The Virtual Meeting Room is loaded in your Microsoft Directory as a contact.
First name Virtual Meeting
Surname Cisco Video
Email (virtual meeting room SIP address firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Video User simply dials that address to connect to Skype for Business
The Skype for Business user simply searches their directory for the room name in the invite and selects the video icon in Skype for Business to connect.
- Automatic Connectivity
You can programme the same Virtual Meeting Room to auto dial the video unit every time someone connects to it. (load the Cisco dial string in the auto dial Virtual Meeting Room settings)
This is superb, as the Skype user can either click on the video icon to connect to the Virtual (Video room) Meeting Room or they can drag the Virtual Meeting Room into the Skype for Business call. (Drag and Drop)
The Video Room user does nothing more than switch the video unit power on, as the virtual room will dial the video unit. This makes their experience a walk in sit down and it works, ideal scenario!
Their are countless other I.T based use cases which we will now list and briefly touch on before we go into the Microsoft use cases and the Business Use Cases.
The Collection of IT
Virtual Meeting rooms deal with the Collection of IT, the IT Teams get delivered as a daily connectivity challenge, nicely:
a) The Virtual Meeting Room Any Device and Any Platform flexibility means that you now have an Ace card.
b) Internally you have a tool that connects your disparate offices whatever they have in them
c) You can migrate from one piece of kit or platform to another knowing you have a virtual room solution that can manage that transition, without disrupting the business.
d) You can then extend the life of Video equipment without "Group License costs" or "Skype for Business Licenses" with cheaper more flexible Virtual Meeting Rooms.
Browser Advancement with ALL Browsers now with webRTC
e) With Browsers now ALL in the webRTC Club (web real time collaboration standard) you can use virtual meeting rooms to connect your plethora of devices and browsers, without the need for any software or plugins!
Virtual Meeting Rooms now come with the full range of features, be they basic chat or cross platform screen sharing or more advanced recording, streaming, dial out to Skype for Business or Video units, or the ever versatile autodial out to bring in Skype for Business or Video Units.
Caveat, the devices must be camera and WiFi enabled of course, which most now are.
Not to be under estimated is the memory resources required to run video on the older laptops with less than 8GB of RAM, which can look like quality issues, but are actually just the memory being over worked!
Note: Beware Chrome on iOS is a Safari webkit and Safari are very late to webRTC and therefore whilst native chrome is the BEST webRTC browser on any non iOS device, iOS Chrome is a badge on an old Safari webkit and therefore does not support webRTC, at the time of going to press.
Moving to Connecting The External Devices and Platforms
f) The key here is once you have solved the Internal face to face meeting with Virtual Meeting Rooms you can solve the external face to face meeting.
Virtual Meeting Rooms extend your options to connect whatever your companies eco-system has a devices or platforms they want to use as "doorways" to access the meeting.
Connecting Multiple Platforms for Face to Face Meetings
Whatever the operating platform therefore are multiple ways to connect to a face to face meeting using a virtual meeting room.
As a platform Video Equipment can now connect to its brothers and Sister brands without the need for any expensive group licenses.
It can also connect to any browser on any platform on any device and share content, record meetings and stream content.
And the need for expensive legacy connectors from video equipment to any Microsoft environment be it Lync, Skype for Business or Teams, has been removed.
Google were the first platform to enable webRTC from the browser across every device and alternative platform (except iOS) and now with Hangouts Meet have enabled video to any device and platform via those very clever engineers in Pexip. Pexip are the only partners Google have worked with to open Hangouts Meet and therefore if you choosing a Virtual Meeting Room make sure if you need Hangouts Meet connectivity that it is a Pexip based solution. (Zoom, Blue Jeans, Polycom, Cisco WebEX none of them are either partnered with by Google or enabled)
The Hangouts Meet connectivity is relatively new and Native. It requires an authority token to allow a number of connections within the Virtual Meeting Room. You simply buy the capacity you think you need, within your solution.
Have never entered the video or collaboration space with anything but FaceTime. However their two operating systems have numerous "Doorways" that allow the iOS and OSX users to collaborate on what are very highly specified and Camera enabled devices.
iOS. All of the collaboration APPs connect to Virtual Meeting Rooms be they from Pexip, Zoom, Blue Jeans or any others.
By far the Easiest access to a Virtual Meeting Room is by Safari which requires no software or downloads, just click on the Virtual Meeting Rooms Link to Join the Face to face meeting.
Safari is native to Mac's however its a late entrant to webRTC (no downloads web real time communication)
Google Chrome however, is the frontier breaker with 5 years or more under its belt and as a browser is a superb tool.
Sharing Content, Recording, Chatting , Streaming, Dialling Out are all possible from Mac OSX users.
And as Platforms and operating system go that leaves the collaboration Market Leader with 79.3% market share Microsoft with Lync, Skype for Business and now Teams as Topic/ Chapter in its own right.
When you are looking at Microsoft Certified Partners there are three:
Blue Jeans, Polycom and Pexip.
We can only speak for Pexip as our solution is based on it for very good reason.
1. Microsoft Certification is not something lightly gained or given.
The Pexip and therefore Close Platform enjoy that certification because they use a NATIVE approach towards the integration of the Video streams and associated media streams.
Native means no downloads or plugins are required because the Close Virtual Meeting Rooms use native Microsoft features and workflows to connect. The Virtual Room address is stored in the Microsoft directory as a contact, you invite people to join via any of the Virtual Meeting Room addresses with an Outlook invite. You connect to the room by search for the contact and selecting the video icon in Skype for Business. Simple.
Microsoft has enabled advanced features to work that need the Pexip enabled platform to be based on Azure its Cloud offering. The Close Platform has been hosted on Azure for some years.
All the Media Streams are encrypted with military grade AES 128 byte encryption a no video data is stored as part of the solution. The Close platform is purely used for signalling and authenticating people and systems to access meetings.
The Pexip solution is already Skype for Business certified and it also future proofed with Teams certification.
So What does that pedigree do for you the IT Manager/Team?
Firstly, you get the basics, the ability to connect any device or platform to Lync, Skype for Business or Teams.
Secondly, Any browser can join a Skype for Business meeting in 1 Click through web RTC.
Thirdly, Any Skype for Business user can join a Virtual Meeting Room in 1 Click from with Skype for Business.
Fourthly you end users have no new workflows to learn, they use the same methods they use for the rest of Microsoft.
The Graph below explains the journey then you can embark on to expand your Collaboration to what we have termed True Collaboration.
It doesn't matter whether your at stage 1 Team Connectivity (just using Skype for Business internally.
Or your at Stage 2 where you have federated to other Microsoft users, in Siloed collaboration.
(93% of IT Teams surveyed still are!!)
With a Virtual Meeting Room and Skype for Business you an extend to any device Stage 3 Familiar collaboration or Stage 4 Any Platform True Collaboration.
Once you have hit stage 4 and your connecting to you partners, suppliers, customers and contractors on any device and any platform you can unlock:
- The productivity efficiencies you desire.
- The True Collaboration teamwork and creativity you really want.
- The "do we need to travel or commute" alternative of face to face meetings from any device or platform.
The Journey can then expand down a different path which is then enabling the teams to maximise the efficiency and flexibility of those Virtual Meeting Rooms with a host of CROSS PLATFORM features.
Recording Cross platform meetings can be recorded with one click on a mouse from a Close Browser session.
Meeting Recordings are stored for 24 hours for downloading and then destroyed for data protection and storage reasons - the recording service is free.
HR, PR , Training and Marketing find recording meetings invaluable for very different reasons be it Interviews or Recording Team Briefs, Sharing Peer training or simply capturing live customer testimonials or driving Google search rankings.
Streaming Cross platform meetings to either YouTube or a private webcasting service is easy. Simply use the advanced settings to dial out to the Streaming address and your meeting then Streams in High Definition to be either viewed later or edited to the finished product.
Again you save hours of studio time and money or farm valuable digital content for your Youtube channel, website or Google search rankings.
To Skype for Business or Video Equipment just requires you to use the advanced settings widget when logged into a call and you are connected to the other party.
Very useful for:
Automatic Dial Out
This powerful feature enables the Virtual Meeting Room to auto dial Video Equipment (single or multiple units)
Legal Companies use this a lot to connect a partner or customer in a meeting to a lawyer on Skype for Business, without either party having to LEARN a new process or procedure. The Virtual Room, when its dragged into a meeting dials the video unit address in its auto dial settings.
The Business User wants True Collaboration
They have gone way beyond the boundary of the meeting room and crave the flexibility to connect to any device and platform in any location, and to any person. They are after some far simpler deliverables that the Virtual Meeting Rooms Reach, Familiar device access and Flexible nature deliver.
The Business User/ Leader is after speed and better decision making faster, together.
Their markets are being disrupted, whether its Uber and taxi's, Amazon and retail, facebook and twitter and the media , almost every market is being disrupted and by competition, a-lot didn't see coming. They are having to move to the agile company model, where being able to disrupt your market or innovate faster than competition is now a core competence.
To innovate you need the best minds, who are often in different timezones and in high demand. You need their input quickly in a time efficient way, where they can add value quickly. Face to face meetings are a must, but without travel logistics and cost and often for short highly productive exchanges, required when your creating and innovating.
Equally the launch of the Minimum Viable Product is fast, requires very quick feedback from internal and external customers, and markets, to validate thinking and deliver "proof of concept feedback. Again agility, crispness of message, fast input and faster adaptation are the key.
You need to get Team members to input too and understand new ideas efficiently, they need images and body language to "get the ideas" and share their feedback. Unless you create that easy input and access to ideas in an inclusive way you'll be starved of the best talent! Or worse still unable to attract or retain it.
No clearer evidence is required than to look at the S & P 500.
The average age of companies in the S & P 500 25 years ago = 81 years
Today that average age has dropped to = 16 years.
The IT leader has with Virtual Meeting Rooms not a tactical weapon but a strategic tool and the wider its use the more flexible an environment they will live in. Able to deliver flexible face to face meetings across any device and platform.
The opportunities abound to upgrade the users experience with tools that are native and require no downloads or software because they have been designed thoughtfully by the very best engineers.
The Microsoft User has no excuses now, they have Microsoft certified options to move from Team or Siloed collaboration to Familiar device or Any platform True Collaboration. Their scope of opportunity has moved from Internally focused on what I can solve to Externally, beyond the organisation to its eco-system. Being able to connect any eco-system member or any device or platform will Gartner says be a Competitive EDGE for 30% of companies by 2020. For the other 70%, I guess they'll exit the market at a time that chosen by their competitors with that communication EDGE.
The Business User now has the tools to create and innovate in an agile and efficient manner, bringing team members with them in a fast paced inclusive manner. Team members will input to and understand new concepts very quickly using the Face to Face Collaboration tools upgrade provided by their Virtual Meeting Room supplier.
It would be wise to be fully equipped to compete
Useful Links for the Business Leader.