In a perfect world, all companies would be able to collaborate using a single standard technology platform, easily and effortlessly. However, the reality is that we have almost as many platforms as we do companies that provide the service. This makes it increasingly difficult for organizations, even those that try and standardize on a single technology platform (generally Cisco or Microsoft and now even Google), as they at some point find themselves crossing product suites as they grow or acquire other companies. User frustration quickly sets in when the average user can’t communicate between Microsoft, Cisco and others. This generally leads to adding even more disparate systems in an attempt to improve the experience, but it generally just compounds the problem.
So how does one tame the experience and make it easy for the average end user to host a collaborative call today? The answer lies with the technology shift the industry started experiencing a few years back: cloud-based solutions and software-based solutions. Some companies will find that one or the other are necessary in today’s enterprise, but a mix is likely to be what the future holds.
Cloud-based solutions are a subscription-based service that allows different technology platforms to operate with one another seamlessly, efficient and most important, easily for end users. Companies with significant investments in room systems, many of which are closed hardware-based systems that only talk within that standard to one other, are most likely to be a candidate for a cloud-based solution. These cloud services allow interaction between companies and within companies that are using a different closed system without the need for racks of equipment. Many companies are looking to get away from premise-based solutions and the associated management of these complex deployments. Cloud-based providers can do all of this with little management from IT teams. When different platforms are able to collaborate and interact, it provides an easy end user experience for devices with different standards. Many companies are now offering these types of services called interop and gateway services.
Videxio is one of the leaders in cloud-based interop and gateway services. They go beyond the basic with products that allow companies to standardize on Microsoft or Google conferencing and collaboration, offering gateway services to stay within the native environment and bridge all other standards into the native environment.
For those companies without a set standard, they also provide virtual meeting rooms that provide the ability for any video collaboration platform to interact with any other video collaboration platform. This allows each end user to operate in their native environment just as they always have. Adding one-touch join buttons on native screens enhances the user experience further.
Software-based solutions look to fix the standards problem a little differently. Software-based systems over the past year have had an enormous impact on the industry and user experience, with a dramatic increase in software-based video conferencing solutions. Using a software-based room system as an example, imagine a meeting was scheduled for 11 AM with Microsoft Teams and a 1 PM meeting in the same room for a Cisco WebEx Teams session. In the past, this would require two different room systems – one for Microsoft and one for Cisco. Some companies might use separate Cisco and Microsoft rooms, which is not the most efficient way to use technology and room real estate. With agnostic software-based room systems, we can accommodate both meetings in a single room using the same technology. Software-based room systems can now take on the look and feel of over 30 different collaboration standards, from Skype and Teams to Fuze and Zoom.
Software based room systems generally have a PC at the core and can be highly integrated with microphones, speakers, cameras and even touch displays. Large portions of the core equipment are coming from companies like Logitech, OwlLabs and Polycom. The PC itself generally runs a locked-down version of Windows 10 with a highly customized application. The leading companies offering these applications today are UCWorkspace and Ziiproom.
- UCWorkspace’s solution, QuickLaunch, provides a single common room calendar that provides a one touch launch of any video collaboration platform. It further provides secure room-based application access to your most commonly used apps.
- Ziiproom on the other hand, provides a room-only system that today launches up to 10 of the most common UC solutions available from a shared calendar experience. Both solutions provide an easy, efficient one-touch end user experience allowing various collaborative meeting types to occur within a single space using the same technology.
Software also has the added benefit of taking a complex problem and making it appear like it is a single standard for companies. It also makes it easy to add new collaborative technology platforms as they come to market, as software can be quickly updated and adjusted, something that hardware-based solutions just can’t do.
Senior Manager, Collaborative Services