Enhancing Communication and Collaboration

Minhaj Zia, National Sales Manager (Unified Communications), Cisco India and SAARC

Imagine it is the end of the financial quarter; that part of the year when meetings and presentations are an essential part of every business manager's calendar. However given the restrictions of time and geography, all managers cannot be available in person at all meeting venues to discuss future plans. Helping these professionals to connect and virtually communicate with their teams, are a variety of digitized communication tools which have revolutionized the way they interact on a daily basis.
Network-based collaboration is helping to share information on phone, voicemail and email, while advanced voice collaboration tools like unified messaging, presence, mobility and remote services are enabling employees connect with each other regardless of location. Increasingly video is becoming a key requirement for personal contact across geographic and cultural boundaries.
Statistics indicate that half of all the traffic coursing across the Internet today is video. Over the next couple of years 90 percent of what travels on the Internet is likely to be video. New-age technologies such as 3G, 4G, and computing devices such as tablets and personalized mobile devices are expected to further increase the use of video in enterprises.
Video is slowly becoming the core of the collaboration market. IDC reports indicate that by 2015 Telepresence will grow to a $4.7 billion market globally. The APAC region is expected to account for over a third of that market, i.e about $1.7 billion in revenues. According to an Infonetics Research report enterprise video conferencing and Telepresence will likely more than double by 2015, when it will hit $5.0 billion in revenue. Growth for immersive Telepresence is likely to reach nearly $1 billion by then.

Trends driving adoption
Mobile workforce: Today's work teams are distributed across various geographies and need to communicate and collaborate in real time, without delays, lost productivity, and costs of travel. They require a new set of tools to harness collective knowledge across distance and time.
Going green: Today's organizations are under increased pressure to improve the productivity of people on the move and demonstrate environmental responsibility. Video can help them pursue green initiatives, while simultaneously increasing productivity and lowering expenses.
Media explosion: The explosion of media content is driving the demand for video on IP networks. While this media explosion is the overwhelming majority of consumer network traffic, it is quickly 'crossing over' to corporate networks where video communication is appearing in new and exciting applications.
Social networking: Companies are now embracing social networking to communicate with their employees by providing links to shared work spaces, blogs, and other useful information in order to improve employee productivity and find people needed to accomplish dynamic projects.
Universal media access: User demand to access information anywhere and on any device, is prompting employees to extend the workplace to home offices, airports, hotels, and recreation venues using mobile phones and wireless networking. Information shared via text documents, email, and slides, is being replaced by short videos. Collaboration tools designed to link together distributed employees are integrating desktop video to bring teams closer together.
IP Convergence: Increasingly, companies are leveraging investments in their corporate IP network by converging video applications, such as high-definition video collaboration, video surveillance systems, and video advertising signage onto a single IP network.
Business benefits
Business video helps organizations to streamline operations, increase productivity, improve customer intimacy, gain a competitive advantage, create new revenue streams, lower costs and scale knowledge transfer with little complexity. It is becoming an essential tool for internal collaboration, technology innovation, physical safety and security.
Video applications like Telepresence, Rich media conferencing, Digital Media Systems (DMS), Physical Security and Unified Communications are shifting the dynamics of traditional business operations. Distance is no longer a barrier; real-time communication is instantaneous, and network-integrated security is a reality.
By facilitating collaboration through face to face meetings business video makes it possible for employees to meet more frequently with customers, increase customer intimacy, respond more quickly to market opportunities and work with team members to accelerate decision making. Executives and customers who share their experience over video also influence solution development.
The 'added value' of non-verbal communication such as body language and eye-to-eye contact that business video provides, makes the difference between a meeting that is successful and one that is not. In a meeting, when a presenter is able to see the reactions of his audience the result is a superior experience for both.
Deploying Telepresence and DMS helps to reduce sales cycles because salespeople can gather multiple subject-matter experts at the same time to answer outstanding issues delaying a sale. This enhances customer experiences, facilitates learning and helps companies gain maximum ROI. To cite an example, a product manager can use a short video to explain a new product feature rather than write a memo about it, because customers would rather view a video than read a data sheet.
Going a step further, if companies install digital signs to deliver advertising on the network and these systems are all connected, they could be used for emergency notifications, during public safety situations and to keep the customer informed on a day-to-day basis.
DMS can also be leveraged to add value to existing video investments. For example, the type of content shown on digital signs as part of a queue management system can vary with queue length. People moving in a fast queue have time to see a short advertisement; those in a longer queue have time for more information. RFID-enabled cards can be used to collect analytics and data from these systems to accordingly differentiate the content and service provided.

Delivering quality video
The movement of video across any network presents several challenges and affects the ease of deployment and end-user experience. To successfully manage the challenges of performance, quality of content, and infrastructure security, traditional IP networks have to be optimized to support video and other rich media along with traditional voice and data services. Media intelligence has to be embedded into the network infrastructure, distribution mechanisms, applications, endpoints and the overall solution fabric.
Greater collaboration between service providers, content providers and network infrastructure providers will help to deliver an immersive video experience. Solutions that enable video applications to integrate easily with different business processes will ensure a greater adoption and provide quantifiable ROI.
While each company and organization decides on the path it will take to harness video, success will come from a holistic approach. By being aware of the synergy between assets, applications and the needs of different users, the full potential of video can be realized.

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