Planning Technology-Enabled Collaboration Rooms

Collaboration is, essentially, a group of people coming together to get the most from their combined analytical and creative energies. Time and again collaboration proves to be one of the most significant ways to solve business challenges.  Today, the meetings themselves can be a challenge given the increase in remote workers and changes necessary for others returning to offices.  The balance of live and remote engagement must be considered even more. Meeting and collaborationroom with projection and flat panel and seating in a large U shape

Often collaboration occurs in teams within individual departments during design reviews, production analysis, and planning, or presentation planning. When collaboration involves two or more departments, the value realized can increase exponentially. Diverse teams can bring very diverse types of content that need to be effectively shared. For example, sharing CAD design concepts between engineering and manufacturing teams can optimize a product for smooth production and after-sale service. Reviewing end-to-end workflows in large spreadsheets or visual diagrams provides insight on the impact one group’s work has on another’s. Cross-functional collaboration such as this not only improves workflow and time and cost savings, it also boosts satisfaction of engaged participants.

Designing Collaborative Spaces for Users’ Workflow

Enabling effective collaboration requires an investment in meeting spaces and technology appropriate to the tasks. Given the shift to remote workforces, more meetings require technology to facilitate discussion.  Most organizations are overwhelmed with digital communications, data, and images. The use of printed handouts or huddling around one computer never was ideal for a collaborative environment, and they are definitely not effective tools now that so many people are working remotely or even separated in meeting spaces. Connecting remote teammates is especially difficult without thoughtfully designed distance collaboration tools, including both hardware and software.

As many people do return to work, there needs to be an effective balance with in-office and remote meetings. Ultimately, the displays and collaboration tools in the room should suit the user content and objectives. The type or number of large-screen displays in a meeting room is only one of many technology decisions to be made. Audio, connectivity, software, and other tools are key to enabling productive sessions and remote connections. A review of sample use cases, workflows, and user profiles could lead to the standardization of room designs based on recurring work, teams, and their data requirements.

Define Success Up Front

Start your planning with the end in mind to guide design. How will you know the investment in collaboration technology was successful? Will you be measuring space utilization rates? Are you trying to increase the number of cross-functional meetings? Do you need to support a growing, globally dispersed workforce? Do you want more engaged users who are building a culture of collaboration?  How to measure success is a topic unto itself, but knowing what success looks like will guide space design and technology choices.

Questions and Considerations in Design:

With so many component options and platforms available, ensuring seamless integration of all equipment is critical. Involve an AV design specialist as early in the process as possible. This is especially important with new construction to ensure the interplay of space, sound, visuals, and structure is considered up front to avoid costly rework later. An experienced designer should be asking questions such as:

  • Are you planning spaces for new construction or renovating an existing space?
    • If existing, does the layout or structure create any limitations for running network cables necessary or added electrical connections?
    • If new construction of multiple spaces, is there an opportunity to standardize room sizes and technology based upon the work being conducted in them?
  • Is user content mostly spreadsheets, documents, and PowerPoint slides, or is it more complex 2D/3D data and photo-realistic rendering?
    • If the content is complex, at what scale should it be viewed to enable effective review and reduce time-to-insight?
  • How many different user applications/software packages must be open at one time?
  • Will users want to share content from their devices? If so, will the sources be a mix of laptops and hand-held devices?
  • What codec (Cisco, Polycom etc) is in place or required for remote participants?
  • Will there need to be a primary presenter and podium in the space?
  • How is the seating arranged as this will affect microphone placements.
  • How many and what types of audio sources will be in the space?
  • Will multi-point remote collaboration be necessary and, if so, between how many locations?
  • What network bandwidth is available for sharing complex data remotely?
  • What interaction capabilities do remote participants expect?
  • What level of security is required?
  • What technical support plan is necessary to ensure systems are maintained and available to expectations?
  • When users experience a problem or have a question, what support structure is in place to minimize meeting delays?
  • How long does the technology need to last?
    • Does your company have a regular refresh cycle or do you need systems to last as long as possible?

Regardless of how long collaboration technology needs to last, understanding workflow and expected use cases is a critical first step.  Effectively designed spaces and appropriate, simplified tools will be highly utilized and generate measurable return.  Establishing metrics to gauge success also needs to be done at the beginning, though measures and benchmarks can be updated as experience increases.  Regular monitoring of use and performance data will provide timely insight into needed system modifications or user training. When the time comes to plan the next set of technology upgrades, justification for investment is much easier with data that proves the payoff.

Read the follow up post Measuring the ROI of Technology-Enabled Meeting Rooms

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5 Top Audio and Video Technology Trends In The Enterprise

The enterprise has seen a tremendous rise in the use of audiovisual and video technology in recent years. Today, there are some common trends popular with many commercial organizations that want to maximize their use of AV technology to achieve important business goals. The top AV and video technology trends are the ones that are being used the most often and have the most widespread impact on the enterprise.

1. AV Technology To Facilitate Remote Working
Forrester Research projects that by 2016, 43% of the United States workforce will work from home. The development of AV solutions that can make it easier for employees to work from home is an important trend in the enterprise for companies that want to conserve their budgets and improve worker satisfaction.

2. Opening Up Training Opportunities For Employees With AV
The next trend pertains to the way that organizations train their team members. Training has been made much easier since the popularization of audiovisual technology. It is possible for companies to hold seminars and even bring in guest speakers by using audiovisual systems that they have in place at their organization. An added benefit of using AV systems for training is that many platforms allow this training to be recorded so that the company can refer back to it in the future.

3. AV Systems In Huddle Rooms
In the past, companies often focused on establishing a single large conference room where many people came together at once to collaborate. Because of changes to collaboration methods in the enterprise and reluctance to spend money on the equipment needed for elaborate conference areas, huddle rooms have become one of the top AV and video technology trends. These huddle rooms are usually equipped with a central table, a few chairs, and a display that allows for video and audio conferencing. They make the perfect environment for small teams to get together and collaborate, even if some team members are not physically present.

4. Integrating Digital Signage Into AV Systems
Digital signs are commonly used in the healthcare, education, and transportation industries. Increasingly, these signs are being integrated into AV systems so that they can be updated with information in real-time. Digital signs are helpful for assisting people that need to find the right place to go and giving them news about happenings that matter to them.

5. Cloud Solutions For AV
The rise in popularity of cloud computing has eased the on-site burden faced by companies that want a dependable solution for audiovisual systems. Cloud service providers are very desirable for enterprise users of AV systems because they allow these users to scale their AV without having to stress about managing the hardware needed for communication.
These are just a few of the top AV and video technology trends that are impacting the enterprise today. Only time will tell which of these trends will last and which ones will be replaced for newer, more efficient methods of using audiovisual systems.

At Pentegra Systems, we work closely with our clients to provide them the right audio, video, low voltage and collaboration technologies that support their business goals. Serving customers throughout Chicagoland, Pentegra aspires to be the first company you call for your system integration needs. Ready to learn more, connect with us here. We are happy to help!

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Every School Needs a Systems Integrator

If you are reading this, chances are you went to school at a time when you were lucky to have an overhead projector in your classroom and really had it made when your teacher rolled in the TV cart to watch a movie. You’ve most likely been out of school for some time and might not realize just how large of a contributor education technology has become in the classroom today as opposed to ten years ago, let alone twenty or thirty. What was either considered a luxury back then or just extremely expensive is now a thing of the past. Schools are now depending on these technologies more than ever and actually use it as a selling point to make their school a more appealing option. If you’d walk into any given classroom in 2016, you might not see as many textbooks as you’d imagine. Instead, you’d see students with Chromebooks or iPads in their hands working on educational software or other educational apps. A school’s technology is sure a lot to keep track of and stay on top of that personnel at the school most likely aren’t capable of handling. This is where a systems integrator comes in.

 

Consultation

 

Whenever you are looking to purchase something, the best thing to do is talk to somebody. Independently researching only goes so far. If you are seriously looking to acquire or upgrade your technology, your best bet is to talk with someone who knows the industry, knows the products and pretty much has their finger on the pulse. You can’t expect your school’s Director of Technology or other IT personnel to know everything. What types of technology are available? What do I really need? What is best for the students? Working with a systems integrator will answer all of your questions. Teachers and faculty of the school know how day-to-day operations go and what areas need improving. A systems integrator can help identify these areas for improvement and suggest what the best solution would be based on their vast knowledge of systems integration.  Having a direct line to that source of knowledge is extremely beneficial.

 

Healthy Business Relationship

 

Consulting and doing business with are two different things, yet a trustworthy and reliable systems integrator has you covered in both aspects. Not only can they steer you in the right direction they also bring the vision both of you come up with together to life. Having a strong relationship with an integrator means you don’t need to go elsewhere. This saves you a lot of time and from the hassle of having to find someone else. Working with a systems integrator is more than just purchasing technology; it should be a partnership and a team effort to ensure not only the best working environment for teachers and faculty, but most importantly the best learning environment for students.  The benefit of finding a reliable, hard working, honest integrator is a luxury if you often make technology purchases and upgrades for your school. Repeat business not only benefits the integrator, but also the client by getting better deals and better pricing given the repeat business over an extended period of time. As in any sort of relationship, both sides need to benefit for the relationship to continue

 

Changing The Culture

 

Having a good systems integrator can single handedly change the culture of how students learn at your school. Sure, the technology itself is the real propeller of instituting change when it comes to learning, but the systems integrator is the means of transportation to get it there. A good systems integrator can be the one to bring in the very best and top-notch systems into the classroom, not only making the teachers jobs way easier, but bringing a new level of collaboration and interactivity among students that they might have no had previously.

 

 Management All In One Place

 

Having your own integrator is not just beneficial to the school and all of its end-users, but also to the technology itself. All aspects of your technology both in AND out of the classroom can all be managed in one place. Your sound system, presentation system, phone system, data network, surveillance, etc. can all converge on the very same I/P network and going through the same systems integrator can make that all possible. Having all of your low-voltage integrated systems run on the same I/P network simplifies not just how it operates, but also adding new technology in the future.

 

 

Having a systems integrator that you can call your own can help your school in several ways. The only real question left is where you find a good systems integrator. For more information on what to look for when picking the right systems integrator, check out one of our recent blogs posts Picking The Right Integrator.

 

Are you looking for a systems integrator? Perhaps Pentegra can be of service.

Call us today at (630) 941-6000 or visit us online at www.pentegrasystems.com!

 

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Are you using Video Conferencing yet?

It is almost 2017. The internet has allowed us to achieve levels of communication and collaboration we would have never dreamed about. You can communicate with someone halfway across the globe instantly and effortlessly. This has improved not only our personal lives, but these possibilities have also had a lasting impact on the world of business. Basically, unless you have been living under a rock, video conferencing is here to stay. It goes without saying that nothing beats a real face-to-face conversation, but what do you do when that’s not available? Sure you can have your emails, instant messaging, telephones, etc. but the next best thing to an actual face-to-face conversation is indeed video conferencing. Can you believe there are still people out there NOT utilizing this technology? There is nothing wrong with being a late-adopter, but if you ARE a late-adopter you’ve most likely heard time and time again how beneficial video conferencing from others that have used it. Here are some major advantages and reasons to start using video conferencing:

Productivity:

Whether your employees work out of the office or at home, the luxury of attending a meeting whenever wherever is a blessing for businesses. The world of video conferencing negates any travel whatsoever. You don’t have to drive across town, hop on a plane or even just walk to the meeting room upstairs. Taking traveling out of the equation leaves employees more time to get work done which increases productivity for any business.

Money Saver:

In most cases business meetings are local, but in other cases you’d need to catch a flight to wherever. In either case it costs the company money. Traveling not only costs you productivity (AND TIME), but it also hits you financially. Got a meeting and it takes an hour to get there and an hour back? That’s gas money. Need to attend a meeting in Phoenix next week? You’ll need to pay airfare, accommodations, rental car, food, etc. Imagine the money you’d save by just clicking an application on your computer or mobile device and remote in through video conferencing? No muss, no fuss.

Employee Satisfaction:

Let’s be real, traveling can be a hassle to varying degrees. No matter if it is for a few hours or a few days. Who wouldn’t want to remain at their desk opposed to spending time on the road or in the air just to attend a meeting? You don’t need to pack your suitcase, you don’t need to dread the road trip, don’t need to go through TSA, don’t need to be away from your family, etc. Instead of boarding a flight, your employees will be onboard with this.

Improved Communication:

You get all the benefits of a face-to-face conversation with video conferencing. Much of communication is determined by body language and facial expressions. It is difficult to read a person over a conference call or e-mail. This helps build your relationships with your customers and also your fellow employees. You get the effect of being there…without literally being there. It is much easier to become engaged in a meeting when you can see the people you’re speaking with.

Sharing:

Most meetings have visual aids, something to compliment the speaker. With video conferencing, not only can you see the people you’re speaking to you can also share files effortlessly online. Need to show an informative video? Need to display a PowerPoint? The members of your meeting can view these files through screen sharing and easily keep up with the topics on the agenda.

Build the Best Staff:

As a business owner or decision maker for you company, you want to do what is best for business. A crucial aspect of any good business is employing the right people. Through the use of video conferencing you don’t necessarily have to limit your personnel search to just locally. Let’s say you find a prime candidate for a position that is more qualified than any of the local applicants however this person is in the next state. No problem. Video conferencing enables you to bring this person onboard because you can work from home and never miss a meeting or suffer from a lack of communication. Also this enables your business to cover more ground if your employees are working out of different locations.

 

Technology has come a long way and is becoming more easily accessible to everyone, everywhere. There are several different options to choose from when it comes to video conferencing and they are all so incredibly user-friendly. Even the most out of touch late-adopters would find it easy to use should definitely take advantage of this communication tool. Let one of our engineers steer you in the right direction and help determine what video conferencing system is best for you today.

 

Call us today at (630) 941-6000

Or visit us online at www.pentegrasystems.com

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Advantages of Leasing Technology

It is 2015 and let’s face it technology has become a necessity in almost every aspect of your life. This is a harsh truth to some people, but so is the fact that if you want the best technology it sure doesn’t come cheap. Is your business in need of network equipment? How about a video wall in your lobby? Chances are you can be looking at a substantial investment. What if you just don’t have that sort of money when you need it most? Leasing technology quickly becomes a pretty appealing option.

SAVING You Money

Let’s say you are the facilities manager at your company and you need to look into buying a video surveillance system to monitor the grounds. To acquire a proper system fitting both your needs and your wants, your system has a price tag of $60,000. Your company definitely needs this system, but just doesn’t have that money to spend right now. By leasing this surveillance system your company can get the exact system you want and need today and pay it off over a specific time frame with a pre-determined monthly cost. Plus, more than likely there will be no down payment to begin with. You can spend that total of $60,000 over the entire lifetime of you using it opposed to dropping that serious amount of money all at once. By leasing this technology, you conserve your capital. By not buying the system upfront, you free up that money you would have spent otherwise. This way, you not only get your video surveillance system, but now have additional money to spend in other areas that also need it.

Keeping You Up-to-Date

In today’s world your brand new cutting edge technology could become outdated by tomorrow. You buy a brand new phone and within months, or weeks now it seems, an even newer phone comes out with much better features that is miles ahead of the one you just purchased. We have all been there. Being stuck with outdated technology is just a common burden that cannot be avoided. Leasing technology gives the buyer the option to update their current equipment when their current lease is up giving them the freedom to periodically have the most up to date products on the market. When your lease agreement comes to an end you simply pick from the current options available and begin a new lease agreement. Plus, since the technology you are leasing will never be outdated, you are also saving yourself the expenses of necessary repairs. If you are stuck with technology that you bought up front, the longer times goes on the more and more that equipment will need to be repaired and maintained, thus saving you even more money.

Other Advantages

When tax time rolls around, the IRS lets you deduct the full cost of all newly purchased assets in the previous year. This does not only mean equipment you purchased upfront, but it also includes equipment you leased. Select lease structures are 100% tax deductible. The entire cost of you leasing your equipment can often be reported as an expense item when its income tax season and could potentially give you a larger tax deduction.  Also, when looking to take out a lease on equipment or technology, most financial services can turn your transaction around in one day’s time. Depending on the size, the much larger transactions are often given high priority. Financial Services not only make the transaction smoother, but also save time and resources making it as hassle-free as possible.  In addition, depending on your type of organization, you can qualify for additional benefits. For example, School Districts have an even greater advantage when leasing due to tax-exempt and flexible payment lease programs that lower the costs of ownership even further down. Schools have tight budgets as it is, they can’t afford to buy equipment upfront in most cases, so in addition to the money leasing will save them additional programs will also save them even more. Faculty, staff, students and parents can definitely appreciate a school with the most up to date technology without the large financial burden of paying for it all at once.

In the grand scheme of things, leasing technology makes the most sense, especially for education and government customers. Municipalities and schools definitely need up-to-date technology and just can’t consistently afford or be as efficient by purchasing that equipment outright when compared to leasing it. Leasing gives you more money to work with now which is crucial in today’s economy. The advantages of leasing become extremely beneficial not just when it comes to affording the equipment, but also using it given you will always be using current technology that will rarely need repairs, let alone replacing.

 

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The Difference Between Consultants and Integrators

Imagine this scenario. You are the owner of a medium sized business whose sales have been on the upswing for the past several years. Due to this increase in business, your company is in the process of expanding into a brand new facility to support the increased operational demands that accompany your business success.  Your new facility has ample office space to house your growing workforce, and includes huddle rooms for ad hoc collaboration and a large conference room for formal presentations. Even your warehouse space is drastically larger than your previous location. You are now faced with a dilemma and you need answers. What technology systems will you need to best support the way you do business? What are your options for audio and video systems, telephones, internet connection, security, etc? Where do you start? These are decisions that need to be made not only in a timely fashion, but they need to be made correctly for the overall well-being of your business. At this fork in the road, there are two directions you can go: seeking out the help from an independent consultant or enlisting the services of a design-build systems integrator.

Independent Consultant:

Whenever someone is faced with an issue in life, they tend to seek out help or advice. They tend to consult someone on what they should do next. That is where independent consultants come into play in the technology field. A consultant is there to steer you in the right direction when you have very little to no knowledge of what steps to take. These consultants are skilled at strategically evaluating current and future needs. They have no particular affiliation to a product line or relationship with a contracting company and as a request will provide an unbiased opinion. Independent consultants can conduct a feasibility study after visiting to your site or start with a “blank slate” when designing for a new facility, and in either case formulate the design direction. Independent consultants are typically part of a larger architectural and engineering team charged with designing a new facility or renovating an existing facility, and will ensure the technology systems are integrated within and coordinated with other elements of the facility design. Independent consultants act as the Owner’s advocate, refining the technology systems’ design to best balance the Owner’s concerns, including technology scope, system complexity and level of user expertise, and costs. The design process typically culminates in a set of documents – drawings and specifications – that are used to solicit bid proposals for each trade division that are required to construct the facility, and consultants often have the opportunity to recommend a list of prequalified  systems integrators that  can best execute the scope of work.  The independent consultant method serves best to establish a defined scope of work on which multiple systems integrators may bid, resulting in bid proposals that may be compared directly to each other in an apples-to-apples way.

Design-Build Systems Integrator:

When Owners are looking for a more cost-effective option, they seek out the alternative.  Known as a Design-Build process, it utilizes the design knowledge and expertise of the systems integrator, themselves.  For the Owner, the initial process of selecting a systems integrator is the most difficult, and requires a targeted effort on their part to be successful.  How do I find the right integrator?  What integrator has the appropriate expertise?  Can the integrator design multiple types of systems for my facility? All of these are important questions to ask, and the Owner must ask these and other questions in order to receive answers that establish a level of comfort and trust in choosing an integrator that will deliver success on every aspect of the project scope. So, what exactly are the answers an Owner should expect from such an integrator?  Owners should ask for – and contact – an integrator’s references for similar projects, which is likely the best indicator of how successful they will be on your project. A systems integrator should have a detailed process for assessing the Owner’s systems needs and should compile those needs in a written narrative describing the design of each system in conceptual form, and then review and refine the design and associated costs with the Owner toward arriving at a final design and cost that best meets all of the Owner’s needs and concerns.  Integrators should be capable of working with multiple applications and system types that interoperate with one another, typically through the data network, of which the integrator must also have design expertise. They should also have a good track record of working with other vendors and trades on a project in a harmonious way.  Integrators must have the personnel and internal resources to make the project a reality from concept to completion, including industry certified design engineers, standards-based CAD departments, certified project managers and highly trained shop and field technicians. A systems integrator designs and builds systems for Owners by combining both hardware and software from multiple vendors to assemble multiple systems in a custom way, which when performed correctly can lower the overall cost of the design and installation of these systems by achieving an economy-of-scale typical of a single integrator approach.

As you can see, both independent consultants and systems integrators more than serve their own respective purposes in the world of technology. Which method would you choose when making decisions about the technology in your new space?

 

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How to Manage BYOD on a Wireless Network

In the past, it was commonplace for employees of a business to only use resources provided and owned by their respective employer. Usual examples include computers and company phones. Businesses had total control of how these devices were being used since they were in-house and more than likely that’s where they stayed. Fast forward to present day, things have changed quite a bit. Through the help of wireless networks, a movement called BYOD has become quite popular. BYOD is an acronym standing for “Bring Your Own Device.” This allows for employees of the company to bring their own personal mobile devices to the workplace to use. These devices are most commonly used to carry out usual business practices which often involve the accessing of privileged company information and applications. BYOD has proven to drive employee satisfaction as well as overall productivity. This initiative also saves companies money since they do not have to supply the employee with a company device. The issues are that since these devices are also used for personal use of the employee, companies don’t have that complete control over these devices and how they are used. Since BYOD is a trend that most likely will grow, the question arises: how does one manage BYOD on a wireless network?

When first implementing a BYOD policy in the workplace, the decision needs input from everyone across the board. If valuable company information is going to be accessible on personal devices of employees, collaboration is needed from top ranked management officers, the IT department, human resources, etc as to what extent of information can and can’t be accessed. Every single person involved needs to be on the same page when thinking about what is best for the company. Once these decisions are made rules and guidelines absolutely need to be put in place as to what employees are and aren’t allowed to do on their devices while using them for work purposes. These rules need to be as specific and as clear as possible to avoid any unexpected or unwanted usage issues.

There are several ways to go about managing BYOD. Companies want the capability to monitor what employees are doing with their devices. Many mobile devices already offer a slew of technologies that can monitor usage of multiple features. Such technologies include GPS receivers, camera recorders and audio recorders. However, most companies commonly implement the use services and suites to closely manage how their users are using their devices. These technologies have the ability to act as a safeguard for both outgoing and incoming files and information. If these devices have access to valuable company information, companies wouldn’t want any of their private information to accidentally leak out. BYOD management software has a tight hold on the data traffic ensuring nothing will fall into unwanted hands. The same principal goes for monitoring what comes into these devices such as downloading files or applications that can be harmful to the business.  Alert systems are also incorporated to immediately notify necessary parties of any sort of issue that arises. Tighter security measures must also be in place for CEO’s and various higher ups within the organization due to their access to perhaps more confidential information than that of the average employee.

Any website, hyperlink or e-mail attachment has the potential to be extremely hazardous. As employees browse the web and open e-mails, the possibilities of viruses arise. Viruses are a significant issue when individual users’ devices get infected given the amount of data stored within those devices (account numbers, financial information, personal information, etc.). However, the issues only intensify when an entire company is at risk. Viruses can’t only steal information; they have the capability of bringing down an entire network. Policies need to be in place where all devices need to be running antivirus and anti-malware programs especially if the device runs a vulnerable OS such as Windows, Android or Linux. These programs will be the first line of defense against incoming threats. In addition to companies already securing their data, companies need to deploy a dedicated device such as SonicWALL to manage the security of the network. Relying on simple firewalls is not enough. Your network should be a managed impenetrable fortress to the outside world.

In an effort to manage the system in a much more efficient way, the BYOD initiative should not include “any” device. Employees shouldn’t assume they can bring whatever device they have and expect it to work with the system. There are a slew of mobile devices available and one cannot expect every single one to be able to be included. The business has quite a large task on their hands as it has to oversee what is going on with everyone’s device, the narrower the spectrum of devices, the easier it will be to manage and create policies and security measures.

Security is the big picture when managing a BYOD program, obviously. Decision makers need to also create loss, theft and exit policies. How many times has one of your friends or family members told you that they lost their phone again? When an employee brings their device to work and has access to company information, these devices indirectly become an asset to that company without the company actually owning them. A prime example is contact information. If an employee leaves a company for whatever reason, they no longer just take away the experience from that job; they have information in their device such as important contacts among other things that they can more than likely utilize elsewhere. These policies will need to balance features and risks to protect the personal information of the user as well as the reputation of the business.

If employees are to use their own personal devices for work purposes, policies and security measures must be in place. However, the employees using their personal mobile devices most likely won’t want their phone or tablet on total lockdown. It’s at this point BYOD creates a risk for both the employer and employee. There needs to be a medium. In terms of what a company can have access to, there needs to be a fine line between a user’s company data and a user’s personal data. This is where managing a BYOD becomes critical for the initiative’s overall success and prosperity. The BYOD system has proven to be ultimately successful if this balance can be achieved.

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Videoconferencing Industry Growing on the Daily

The following is a great article by Chip Manning we found posted on VDO360 highlighting how the videoconferecing industry continues to grow.

 

According to Transparency Market Research’s latest study, at a projected valuation of $6.4 billion around the world, 2020 will represent a clear milestone in the videoconferencing market. That’s a phenomenal compound annual growth rate of 9.36 percent from 2014 to 2020. Industry-wide adoptions at the enterprise level will drive much of this progress.

While many industries have embraced the potential high quality videoconferencing technology has to offer, less traditional verticals like healthcare, defense, and the education industry are also starting to take notice. There are myriad reasons for this exciting growth when it comes to video collaboration—here are some of the most popular ones:

Flexible, Scalable Videoconferencing Solutions Expand the Marketplace
More businesses than ever before can afford videoconferencing solutions. A few years ago, only large organizations with significant tech budgets could afford to implement on-premise solutions with an in-house technology team. Today, companies can access VaaS (Video as a Service) solutions as well as cloud-based videoconferencing solutions at a fraction of the budget needed for in-house hardware, software, and support.

These flexible, cost-effective video opportunities allow small and medium-sized companies to do business in a global environment with the same resources as much larger firms. As more vendors come into the videoconferencing field, the competitive videoconferencing market has replaced previous concerns regarding security and availability with customized solutions that meet those requirements. Cloud and VaaS solutions can offer the same level of security as on-premise solutions, provided that vendors and clients understand their roles in protecting data and video services.

Videoconferencing Drives External and Internal Communication and Collaboration
As the general economy continues to mobilize globally, businesses can significantly cut overhead costs with the right videoconferencing solution. Remote workers can easily engage with teams around the world. Office branches in different states and countries can meet as necessary without stopping their daily work to fly to one central location.

HR and recruiting professionals can use videoconferencing to easily interview candidates regardless of location. Customer support professionals and account executives can also use videoconferencing tools to pitch products, help customers troubleshoot a problem, or work on a rollout project. Videoconferencing adds value universally.

In the healthcare industry, a main driver of videoconferencing growth, doctors can conduct remote consultations and discuss medical findings with ease through video-collaboration meetings. In the education industry, students and teachers from all over the world can connect in a virtual classroom to discuss ideas and grow in a global environment. The possibilities for interaction with high quality videoconferencing tools impact all sizes of business, industries, and initiatives. Even retailers, manufacturers, and restaurant managers can use videoconferencing to enhance operations and collaboration.

Invest in and Optimize for Videoconferencing Today
As the use of videoconferencing solutions of all kinds becomes more commonplace, organizations and consumers may start to expect a certain level of digital capability. If you still travel to a place and plan to charge a client for an in-person meeting that could easily occur through videoconference, you may lose clients or be asked to absorb the travel costs in the future. Start investing in videoconferencing solutions and optimization today to maintain a competitive edge during this industry growth spurt.

 

Learn more about how Pentegra Systems’ Collaborative Communication solutions can design, engineer and install your new videoconferencing system today!

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Trust by Design: Working With The Right AV Integrator

When it comes to AV Technology, most businesses make the common mistake of planning for technology only after their building has been constructed or their remodeling project is at the verge of completion. This leads to yet another grave mistake–equipment design that’s not compatible with their business needs and an infrastructure that is not adequate after the building is completed. This could and often does result in high additional costs or unsightly wires. This is a situation best avoided. But how? The answer lies in ensuring that your technology integrator walks you through the design process while understanding your business needs. The best integrators can sense the bigger picture, so they acquaint their clients with the pros and cons of a particular design while suggesting what is best for them. This can not only cut down the unnecessary cost of unwanted or unnecessary features, but also creates a bond of trust between the integrator and the client.

How important is the design phase?
Proper design has a great impact on the final outcome of your projects. Naturally, a lot depends on your integrator’s understanding of your business processes and your specific requirements. This is where a step gone wrong can cost you not only time, but budget overages as well. To avoid this, choose an integrator who makes you a part of the design process. This eliminates a lot of confusion, missed details, and extra costs. And, as there grows a level of trust and understanding between you and your integrator that comes as a natural result of working together, you can rely on them for your future projects.

Which factors to consider in your design phase?
Before starting your audio visual project, there are several factors you need to consider in the design phase. It’s important that you have multiple sittings with your AV integrator during this phase to arrive at a point where you’ve been able to convey your exact requirements and the integrator has attained a full understanding of your business process and your specifications.
Here are the important factors you need to discuss during the design phase.

Who is your audience?
Determine the primary user group and how tech savvy they are. It’s always best to go a little deeper in knowing what would be the right fit for your audience. Use age group, user habits and other demographics, and a full understanding of their needs as points for discussion.

What is the present condition of your building?
The age of your building plays an important role in deciding the audio visual technologies you would want to integrate. Take your integrator on a tour around your building before the process of design commences, then, as construction and design are underway, make sure you continue to tour and inspect regularly, as it’s not unusual for things to come up that you’ve not thought of in the early phases of the project.

What are your audio requirements?
Both internal and external sound can affect the quality and effectiveness your AV system. Discuss with your integrator about the optimal audio conditions before they can work on them.

Which are the optimum lighting and heat conditions for your technology?
It’s important to assess the amount of natural and ambient light the room receives before planning an AV system for it.

What kind of electrical and cabling would be best suited to your needs?
Talk to your integrator with regard to the specific electrical, IP, and cabling that you’ll require.

What type of screen would you need?
The size of the screen is an important factor. It has a lot of impact on your audio visual experiences and will (and should) ultimately drive everything. The size of the room and the number of people it would seat are critical matters to consider while determining the right screen size.

What are your video conferencing requirements?

Be very clear about your video conferencing preferences when discussing these factors with your integrator. Chalk out every small detail, such the camera placement or what kind of microphone you would need based on your video conferencing habits and requirements.

After discussing the above points with your integrator, both of you can have greater clarity as to what design might work for the benefit of your business. This is not only an important step toward an ideal AV system design, but also a step closer to finding an integrator who will most fully understand your business.

What are your experiences? Have you been an active participant in the design phase of a project? Have you worked with clients who were? We’d love to hear more.

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5 Collaboration Technologies That Millennials Want At Work

Millennials are the most tech-savvy, collaborative, and socially-minded generation in human history.  Millennials have grown up using smartphones, Facebook, and the cloud.  They can navigate the web like the back of their hand.  Millennials realize the future belongs to them.  They are determined that today’s workplaces match their expectations and ideals.

In a nutshell, Millennials seek work environments that foster connectivity, meaning, and social purpose.  They seek work hours and arrangements, which reflect their desire to balance career goals with their family and personal aspirations.  In particular, Millennials view work as an “activity,” not a physical place.  Therefore, they look at flexible hours and telecommuting as prerequisites. They want the workplace to reflect their values and ideals.  In short, they want work environments that provide the technological and collaborative opportunities they expect.  Five collaboration technologies that Millennials want at work include:

1) Video:  Traditionally, business people have opted for in-person meetings as their preferred method of communication.  Millennials value face-time, but they have embraced video-conferencing as an ideal tool for conducting meetings, saving time, and enhancing collaboration.

2) Huddle Rooms:  Millennials want to flatten and dismantle hierarchies.  They dislike and distrust command-and-control environments.  They are more interested in team-building than individual status.  In this regard, huddle rooms are an ideal way to tap the creative energies of Millennials.  What is a huddle room?  Essentially a huddle room is a space where a small number of workers can gather to discuss or tackle a common agenda.  Huddle rooms are an alternative to large, costly, and less intimate conference rooms.  Huddle rooms typically involve a display, such as a flat screen monitor, a table or workspace, and a webcam that facilitates video or teleconferencing with outside parties.  Huddle rooms vary in size, as do their specific features, depending on the needs of the organization.  But basically huddle rooms are designed to foster and tap the creative energies of small but nimble teams focused on common goals.  Millennials distrust top-down environments.  Instead, they value work environments where teamwork and horizontal relationships are more prominent.  Innovative working arrangements, such as the huddle room, facilitate the kind of work experience Millennials expect.

3) Social Media:  Technology is the air that Millennials breathe.  They are accustomed to using services like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-in on a daily basis.  They utilize these platforms throughout the day (at home and on the go) and they expect to use them at work as well.

4) Telecommunication:  By 2025, about 40% of the workforce is expected to work from home.  Millennials value flexibility, comfort, and family time.  Millennials view commuting and the nine to five workday as anachronistic.  Milennialls see working from home as natural.  Indeed more than 90% of Millennials want to work from home, and more than 85% want to work according to their own schedule.  Millennials want to work, but they want technological options that will allow them work from remote locations and according to their own schedules.

5) Gaming Apps:  Millenials have grown up in the world of videogames.  They want work to be fun and exciting; not boring and frustrating like the jobs their parents endured.  According to Adam Penenberg, companies are responding to this reality by developing “gamification applications,” programs and systems that turn the work experience into a something of a game.

Millennials are going to shape the future of work.  Like previous generations, Millennials value work, but they have a different idea of how to get work done than their predecessors.  Millennials value transparency, collaboration, and flexibility.  They believe corporations need to be less hierarchical and more socially accountable.  They want to telecommute and set their own schedules.  They also want work to be creative and fun.   Millenneials will embrace tools that foster collaboration and other ways of interacting creatively with their peers and their work environments.

Resources:

Information Week What Millennials Want at Work

Forbes: 10 Ways Millennials are Creating the Future of Work

 

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GEMS World Academy Chicago

GEMS World Academy Chicago

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GEMS Education is an international education company that has been educating youths since 1959. With schools in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, in 2014 GEMS opened their first school in the United States. GEMS World Academy Chicago educates students from Junior Kindergarten to the 12th ...

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