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Meetings Made Easy: One Video Platform or More
What’s in your meeting room?
Such a question today gives rise to a range of emotions within the enterprise. Infrequent users might feel panic at the thought of having to figure out how to join a meeting from a room system, whereas frequent participants might feel irked by having to use a room system that’s not to their liking, whatever the reason. And that’s not to mention the range of feelings that enterprise IT, A/V, and facilities professionals have about meeting rooms, which today come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and with all sorts of gear within them.
For some enterprises, an attempt at improving the meeting room experience will come through standardization on a single platform. Others will prefer a more flexible approach, and as a result seek out ways to make the use of room systems with disparate video apps utterly seamless. We continue to see examples of both, including in recent news of a big customer win coming Zoom Video Communications and a new compatibility offering from Teamline, a StarLeaf unit.
Standardizing on a Single Platform
I imagine that simplified meetings were at least partially behind news Zoom shared this morning that HSBC, a global bank and financial services company, has standardized on its video-first UC platform. Details are sparse, but this much is known: HSBC will have licenses available for more than 290,000 users and Zoom Conference Room Connectors to over 5,500 hardware endpoints.
The plan is to consolidate all audio conferencing, video conferencing, and screen sharing services onto the Zoom platform for internal and external meetings, whether users participate from their mobile devices, sitting at their desks, or in conference rooms, according to information shared in a press release on this contract. BT Group is the integration partner for this enterprise deal, which Zoom said represents its largest to date by initial revenue.
The Room Connectors will be key in creating the “frictionless experience” HSBC expects to deliver by standardizing on the Zoom platform. With the connectors, HSBC should be able to connect standards-based meeting room systems — those supporting SIP/H.323 — to the Zoom cloud. In addition, should HSBC use Cisco and Poly room systems, it would be able to provide one-touch meeting join through partnerships Zoom has in place with those room system providers.
Such seamlessness of meeting experience is nirvana, certainly for HSBC but for any other company, large or small. However, standardizing on a single platform isn’t always an option — or even desired, as Steve Raffe, head of Teamline at StarLeaf, pointed out last week in a No Jitter briefing.
Easing Click to Join
Teamline, a provider of meeting room options for the Microsoft ecosystem, talks about turning meeting rooms into “platform-agnostic collaboration spaces” — because the largest enterprises rarely run on a single platform, Raffe said.
Even companies that have standardized on a platform will find themselves needing to support another one or more, either while they transition or because they face an intractable group of users — say an avid group of Zoom users in marketing amid an IT-sanctioned Microsoft Skype for Business or Team shop, he added. And, when asked to join external meetings, users are at the mercy of whoever has scheduled the meeting and the video app they use.
Meanwhile, “the poor users just want to get on with their meetings,” Raffe said. “They’re faced with a whole variety of meetings on their calendars, and they just want to get on with collaborating.”
Toward that end, Teamline now offers MultiJoin, which makes the Teamline room system able to join Skype for Business and Teams; Cisco Webex; Zoom; BlueJeans; and StarLeaf meetings with a single click, Raffe said. With MultiJoin, a user can add a meeting room address to or forward the meeting invite, and then launch the meeting from the Teamline touchpad in the meeting room. Alternatively, if the room is outfitted with the StarLeaf Pronto cable, the user could plug that into a laptop USB for instant connectivity of the meeting invite to the Teamline room system; the meeting join button will then appear on the room system touchpad, Raffe said.
Teamline expects MultiJoin to be particularly useful for enterprises transitioning from Skype for Business to Teams, helping them get more out of their meeting room investments, Raffe added. And, by removing the complexity of joining a meeting, it also sees MultiJoin as a means of encouraging users who have been invited to video meetings to take advantage of that capability vs. joining via audio alone. “It’s all about empowering the human element.”