Forget the Why, Just Use Cloud Video
Companies are finding value in equalizing the video conferencing experience for mobile, desktop, and in-room participants.
If your company is like most, it has a sprinkling of conference rooms scattered about its offices. Some are meant simply as on-site gathering places, while others are equipped with audio and/or video conferencing gear aimed at facilitating conversations among folks who aren't all local.
Chances are much of the conferencing gear in use is dated to some degree. Starting an audio conference might be easy enough, but setting up a video conference is another matter. And quite often, doing so requires IT's assistance, which isn't always convenient or even feasible.
For Shawn Winters, IT director at Mimeo, an online managed content distributor and printer, having to set up video conferences for executive meetings alone had been chewing up untold numbers of man-hours each year. A typical video conference might involve a conference phone system, a video camera, and a laptop for screen sharing... "there are always things that can wrong, and things always go wrong," he said.
But things don't go wrong at Mimeo any longer, not since it began using a "modern" conferencing system from cloud video provider Highfive, Winters said during an Interop panel discussion, "The Unsexy Secrets That Transform Enterprise Collaboration," that took place earlier this week. The help desk doesn't get video conferencing tickets anymore, "and I don't have to set up and sit in the executive meeting every Thursday at 5 o'clock anymore," he quipped.
Mimeo is not alone in its transitioning to a cloud-based video service. In surveying enterprise IT leaders, Nemertes Research found that 71% of respondents already use or plan to use cloud-based video in the next year, said panel participant Irwin Lazar, a vice president with the firm and regular No Jitter contributor.
The beauty of cloud-based video is that it pretty much equalizes the experience for mobile, desktop, and in-room participants. Joining a meeting can be as easy as a click, which helps fuel "bottom-up use," Lazar said. And that's certainly been the case at Mimeo, Winters said.
Mimeo uses Highfive video calls for marketing team meetings, end-user training, new hire interviews, and a host of other activities. "People are finding new ways of doing things now that we are not hindered by licensing constraints," said Winters, referencing that Highfive doesn't charge a per-user fee for its cloud video solution, as discussed in my post from earlier today, "Highfive Taps Dolby Voice to Enhance Video Calls."
"They just click, and it works -- and it works with people outside our domain, too."
Winters doesn't much care who is using video calling for what purposes, as long as they're using it. He only recently found out that the company's procurement is using Highfive to talk to suppliers, for example. And developers have a "video always on" mandate as part of their Scrum approach to agile development.
Winters himself uses Highfive on a regular basis to host weekly IT meetings with his 22-person team. "Sometimes everybody is at home. Sometimes half are at home and the other half are in the office. I don't care -- that's the flexibility we have," he said.
Use of cloud video for distributed teams, HR interviews, and among developers aligns with what Nemertes hears from other companies about how they're using cloud video services, as well, Lazar said. But Nemertes has found that home workers are having trouble "crossing the chasm" and leaping into cloud video. However, that's often less of a technology issue and more of a "oh my gosh, I have to put a decent shirt on and comb my hair" reaction, he added.
And that's OK, because the office certainly isn't going away, as Shan Sinha, Highfive CEO, pointed out during the panel discussion. "People go in to the office for all sorts of reasons, and it often really is better to be in person. But the point is, you don't have to be there anymore."
The key, he added, is making sure you can support the configuration you need on Monday and the configuration you need on Tuesday. "As soon as you can't support one configuration, the tool isn't something you can use every day" -- and that means video calling slips in its hard-won value.