The prevalence of videoconferencing is explosive. A decade ago, many made stark predictions that when we reached 2015, people wouldn’t even board airplanes anymore. Obviously this hasn’t happened. We just expect people to be more connected and to get things done faster. Video conferencing helps. Do you need a Consultant or Consulting Group to accomplish you needs? It depends on the complexity.
Micro Video Conference Systems
I put these in a separate group than small systems just to differentiate and mention them. These are the Skype, Google Talk, and Lync solutions of the world. You can cross reference these with platforms like Go To Meeting and others that allow content based meetings. Solutions like Zoom, Fuze, and Blue Jeans are trying to fill in the middle ground at the upper end of this space.
These solutions are relatively simple and typically deployed by IT staff. In many cases, they may be deployed by the end users themselves, although this is not desirable in larger organizations.
Small Video Conference Systems
In this pool, we have a simple H.323 systems for small to mid-sized companies. In the simplest implementations, companies may opt to place the hardware on the public side of their firewall or they may employ firewall traversal. Systems may employ conventional lighting or basic specialty lighting.
These types of systems are increasingly implemented by the IT department, although in more upscale meeting and conference spaces, they may be included as part of a turnkey system delivered by a systems integrator. The AV integrator will handle basic system design and engineering, installation, and programming as a single source solution. Overall budget for systems of this size are typically < $100,000.
Medium Video Conference Systems
These systems may involve several spaces within a facility or campus. At this point, we start entering the world of enterprise systems, where standardization is increasingly important. All equipment will be inside of the firewall, mandating traversal. One or more MCU units will likely be deployed for managing multisite calls.
There will also be a greater demand for room resources and a higher standard for quality. This means that lighting should be carefully considered, as well as room finishes for on camera appearance. Audio should also be given appropriate consideration. Of course, these things should really be done for any VC system, but as we approach systems of this size, budget to adequately fulfill these requirements becomes commonplace. Systems of this scale are usually deployed by a large AV integrator who specializes in video conferencing, or by an independent design consultant. In either case, close coordination with the IT department is required.
Large Enterprise Video Conference Systems
At this level, the focus really shifts to creating a seamless and intuitive operation across a large organization. This involves not just design of a single facility, but master planning. This involves an assessment of the current technology, organizational objectives, and future technology considerations.
A major component of making the user experience seamless is the configuration of hardware and software to create a uniform experience, regardless of platform. This is a more daunting challenge than it would appear to the casual observer. Services like Lync, Skype, and H.323 were not designed with the intention of working together. Getting video across to all platforms may not be that much of a challenge. Getting attachments, presence, and other features to work seamlessly is a different matter.
Some of the rooms may require telepresence. In these systems, the objective is to create as close to a real life meeting situation as possible, with a display and speaker for each meeting attendee, often situated as if there were on opposite sides of a table in the same room.
At the enterprise level, design is a team sport. This typically involves multiple layers of consulting, manufacturers, and staff within the organization itself. Every solution is different, and video conference consulting service planning is an important component of the overall strategy. If you need support for a large or medium sized solution, please call us to see how we can help. We enjoy working as part of a team. If we don’t know the answer, we almost always know someone who does.