Transcript for UCStrategies Experts Offer Video Use Cases
John Bartlett: Hi, this is John Bartlett, principle at NetForecast and a member of the UCStrategies team, where I focus on the use of video technology in business. We are hearing a lot about video conferencing and video streaming use in business and as usual for a new technology, there are both proponents and skeptics. One way to focus the discussion is to look at specific use cases, see where video adds value and where it does not. Today, we have brought together members of the UCStrategies team to discuss video use cases. Thanks for joining us in this conversation. I am hoping to hear about ways that the enterprises use videos that can really add to productivity, increase the speed of business, build teams, shorten product cycles, increase safety, or otherwise enhance the important tasks for those particular businesses.
First, I am going to hand the baton to Pam, because she has some specific use cases that she spoke about where businesses have been able to create new ways of doing business by using this technology. Pam?
Pam Avila: Thanks John. I found these two use cases to be very interesting because they are so unusual. One of them involves a chain of upscale restaurants in the Houston, Texas, area and what they are doing is to set themselves apart from their competition, is basically create a very technology-rich environment within their restaurants to attract high-level executives that are in the buildings surrounding where most of those restaurants are located. What they do, interestingly enough, is hand each customer an iPad when they walk in the door. They can use it of course for things like ordering, which is sort of commonplace, but then also to stay connected. But where the video part comes in is that they’ve also set aside rooms that have video conferencing capability for their customers to stay connected with their clients, with co-workers, with whatever they need, while they are there at lunch, at dinner, happy hour, whatever. So I thought that was a really interesting use case.
The other one is a group of orthodontists who have created a situation where they take a child with crooked teeth, for example, and they do a before and after shot. And what they do from there is basically use a special device there in the office, a video device, where they can have orthodontic specialists who talk to the parents of those kids with the crooked teeth and show them the before and after and explain what can be done. That way those orthodontial specialists don’t need to be right there in the office. And then that group is also carrying it one-step further and planning on putting kiosks out in things like shopping malls where people can do before shots of their children’s teeth and talk to specialists and see what their child would look like afterwards. Those are two really unique applications for video.
John Bartlett: Thanks – that’s interesting. I have seen a lot of use of video in the broader medical community, partly to bring in specialists, like you just spoke of, and in some other cases, just for reaching patients in more remote areas where they can’t afford to have a doctor at each location. I think those are both very exciting use cases for this technology. Art, did you have a comment there?
Art Rosenberg: I just wanted to say that a video is part of the spectrum of communications and information access. You know it's not just necessarily to have a face-to-face conversation, but be able to show people information and control it. So it's a fuzzy area in healthcare and this is one where the patients, who are really like the customers, if you will, have to know what is going on. I personally just came back from the hospital after 20 days and some very difficult surgery and I had to ask every aid that came in and gave me a medication. I said, “What are you doing, who authorized it, and why?” Because you can’t just blindly let yourself be transported, because the communication between the different providers is not that good and they make mistakes. So a video is one of the things that can confirm the conversation, if you will, as to who you are talking to or what they are trying to show you real time in terms of the status of the problem and the solution.
John Bartlett: Excellent – well we’re glad you are back with us to give us that report, Art, and thank you. Another place that we hear about video conferencing being used is in human resources. Blair, did you want to talk about that?
Blair Pleasant: A while back, Nancy (Jamison) and I did a study talking to people about how they are using unified communications. And we found it really interesting that several of the HR people that we spoke to were really big, big users of video and they said it has really changed the way they interview and hire people now. Instead of paying for people to come out to the office for personal interviews, they are now doing it all via video. So either the first meeting might be in person and then after that it will be all video, or it might just be all video until the very last meeting with the CEO or something. But these HR people are saying that it saves months of time in terms of the interview cycle and obviously saving a lot of money, because you can cut out all the travel. So interviewing people via video has become really the way to do it now.
Also, they are finding that during training, using video is also helping them to save a lot of time and money, so they can bring virtual groups together to do virtual video training. They also said that when their companies are involved in mergers and acquisitions, using video also helps to smooth the integration and the transition, so the people from the formerly separate companies, who are now working together, can have video conferences and see each other and feel more connected to each other. So it really is changing the way organizations are doing things and really helping them to feel more connected.
I know with remote call center agents, it's the same thing. A lot of these agents who work at home feel very remote and isolated, but using video conferencing to interact with their supervisors and managers, and other agents is also helping them to feel more connected and not as isolated. Which in turn helps to keep them at the job and with the company, instead of quitting because they are feeling lonely and isolated; it really helps keep them with the company for a longer time.
John Bartlett: Those are great points and you bring up something here that is a little deeper, I think, and that is that I have always felt that you can build relationships more quickly when you have that visual information. That idea of building relationships, which you talked about in terms of the home workers, but also in terms of the acquisition and the new people that you are working with – I think the same thing applies to geographically distributed teams that are tasked to solve a particular problem. They need to build a relationship quickly, because the whole duration of their task or working together is relatively short, but they want to be effective. And I think video has a lot of value in that space. Does anybody else have any thoughts on that?
Don Van Doren: John, this is Don. Let me comment on what you just said. Marty (Parker) and I got a project fairly recently with broadly diversified teams – diversified geographically – and it's something that again, they are looking hard at how to use video very effectively to facilitate that kind of interaction and that close collaboration, so certainly it works in a business context as well.
John Bartlett: Another place that I am hearing demand for video is in the mobile space and of course, we’ve seen the marketing around this. We know about Apple FaceTime and a lot of the video conferencing clients that are pushing to get their clients operating on the mobile devices. Michael, I wonder if you could comment on how you see video in the mobile space, both in terms of what the users want to do with it and as to whether or not the mobile space is ready.
Michael Finneran: Sure thing John, thanks. Mobile is going to be the next frontier for video, but it’s unsure. I, for one, am not convinced that video teleconferencing is going to be the big play here. It will in the consumer market, most likely. But in the enterprise there seems to be more interest in things like fiscal security and problem assessment, but mobile is not going to come without its challenges. Basically, video is targeted for 4G. Now while deployments are increasing, Verizon actually announced 21 new LTE markets today. But still there are very few handsets and Apple has already hinted that we are not going to have LTE or any 4G technology in the next iPhone. We know we’re not going to have it in the next series of Blackberries, in the 9900. So we still might be some distance away. Also, one of the other scary things is that recently AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all announced that they are ending unlimited data plans, so we are going to have to start looking at what this is going to cost us.
Finally, we do have that compatibility challenge. Apple’s FaceTime has come up a couple of times already, but for the time being that is still a video island. So we will be watching this closely. But in the mobile space, we might be seeing video used one way by the consumer and my guess is a completely different set of applications, and probably not including video teleconferencing in the enterprise side.
John Bartlett: And Michael, what about in the wireless LAN space? We’ve seen the introduction of tablets by Cisco and by Avaya and by Motorola and so, and certainly some of those are aimed within the campus kind of environment. What do you think is happening in that area and is that network ready for primetime?
Michael Finneran: Certainly, with the quality of service and capacity capabilities we have in WiFi, if we plan for it, we can very certainly support video. The question is, if it's in a local environment, why in the heck don’t you just walk down there and see it? Of course, the real value in this seems to come outside of the facility. But certainly, mobility either with mobile devices, handsets, or tablets working on Wi-Fi – we expect to see a lot more interest in as time goes on.
John Bartlett: So a piece that we haven’t talked about is the connection of streaming video to the video conferencing environment and streaming seems to have a number of interesting applications, one being to take a video conferencing environment and distribute it out to many users, such as an all-hands meeting: the president wants to deliver a message (for example). And you can save considerably on bandwidth by using streaming, as opposed to a video conferencing environment. Another one is for those companies who have locations around the world, you may want to capture that stream and record it and then put it up on a video on demand kind of server, so that other folks can listen to it later in the day or the next day or whatever is appropriate for their time zone.
I have also seen a lot of demand for that kind of capability for training – safety training, regulatory training, and in some cases there is compliance requirements and it's possible to know who watched, when they watched it, whether they watched the whole thing, and so on so that you can ensure that you’re meeting whatever those requirements are for your environment. So again, another place for video.
Art Rosenberg: John, I would like to make a quick comment. You need to differentiate things that are going to be organized, and scheduled, and planned versus ad hoc access.
John Bartlett: Yep, no question about it. And you have to have different kinds of infrastructure to support those.
Art Rosenberg: Right, right.
John Bartlett: Just before we got started, Dave Michels mentioned kind of a whole different area for video. Dave, you want to talk about the virtual space.
Dave Michels: I find the virtual space, virtual conferencing, really interesting. When people compare it often to Second Life, virtual world, but I have never understood Second Life. That just never resonated with me and I was pretty sure that the virtual conferencing would fall under the same category. But now that I have been using it a few times, I am revising my opinion on it and I think it fills an interesting hole that I didn’t realize had existed. Avaya has a service called Web Alive and you can try it out or you can purchase the software. At Enterprise Connect, we saw a company called ProtonMedia that’s doing a similar solution for Microsoft Lync. And I think this type of virtual conferencing has a place. What I thought about it is the one, it is more interactive than video conferencing. Because a lot of the video conferences I attend are one-to-many type of environment and my camera isn’t necessarily on, and I get misdirected. I am switching windows, I am doing other things, and the virtual space tends to be more interactive and you get busted. Yesterday, I attended the Avaya user group, they did some keynotes and there were about 35 analysts in the virtual room and you walk around and they showed the live keynotes streaming on one screen and then when they were done somebody started presenting on a different feed. And of course, everyone is supposed to move their avatar and face the new person, and they have a new slide deck with two screens. And the ones that were still staring at the old screen were obviously busted, they weren’t paying attention. And thought that it was interesting and they call you out on it – they’ll start asking you questions.
The other thing that is kind of interesting, too, is the way that the audio works. They are calling it, I think it’s called proximity audio, where whoever is on the podium, you can hear no matter where you are, but you can also have little conversations with people next to you and you can hear them talking next to you. So if everyone is wearing headsets – if you are not on the podium – just like a real conference you talk to other people. And I found, unlike in normal video conference or audio conference that I have little sidebar conversations with people that I knew. They even have little breakout rooms that you can walk into and continue the conversation without disrupting anybody. They have little phones on the conference tables that you can dial somebody into on an audio conference. They have slides, they have videos – just video stuff. It think it's interesting and one of the benefits of it, because it is all effectively animation, is it's much more bandwidth friendly – you don’t run into the bandwidth issues you have with real time video. And I think it's just a real interesting technology that I completely misunderstood at first and now that I am using it, I am finding it very intriguing.
Art Rosenberg: Dave, this is Art. Would it be fair to say that basically you are providing a contextual environment for communication and conversation and exchang? So you have a topic and someone is presenting and so on and within that kind of context people can find it easy to exchange comments between themselves. It would be like normal communications, but it's got an umbrella over it in terms of this is what we are thinking about at the moment and this is what we should be talking about rather than just any ol’ thing.
Dave Michels: You know it's interesting because it's still interactive, you can nod, you can wave, you can raise your hand and all that stuff, but it's less invasive and so you don’t have to worry about the shirt you are wearing or how messy your desk is or the background or your lighting and things like that. It's less invasive and you have more control over the environment. So it's in more ways less threatening. I was really intrigued because it just filled a hole that I had no idea existed.
Art Rosenberg: Yeah, but doesn’t it also open a door to communication with people who you may not have been thinking about at the moment, who happen to be attending, like in the audience, and they are interested in the same topic or issue and so on, so it's easy to make contact with people who are thinking the way you are thinking at the moment?
Dave Michels: Well I think it's kind of funny because you can be in a room with people listening to a presentation like I was yesterday and you can make wise cracks and only the people around you will hear you, so it's just like a real conference.
Art Rosenberg: Well yeah, so it could be personal at that level.
John Bartlett: Of course you can always be young and good-looking. So I think we’ve covered the waterfront pretty well. Any additional comments, either on the virtual space or other video use cases that we haven’t touched on from any of the folks?
Art Rosenberg: Well, I just think that this highlights the difference between something that’s organized and structured in some way, as opposed to ad hoc out-of-the-blue context that have nothing to do with a particular event.
John Bartlett: Yes, I agree and you see some of that difference between room-based video conferencing, which is scheduled, and desktop, where you can in fact just dial up and chat with somebody and then this virtual space that Dave has introduced – adds a social dimension to that where you can have the water cooler conversation, as well. So I think there is even a third dimension.
Art Rosenberg: Well actually, there is going to be a fourth one, as people become very mobile and they suddenly get notified that, “hey something is going on,” but they were too busy to attend or whatever. But suddenly something happens. Especially I go back to healthcare, where life and death comes into play – “hey you are at a meeting, but guess what—your patient is dying.”
John Bartlett: So might have a virtual Flash crowds.
Art Rosenberg: Right, so you have to be able to go back and forth between virtual and real time mobility, and the devices that are coming up, the smart phones, smart devices, are going to be able to let you do that – that’s what UC is all about.
John Bartlett: Thank you very much for all your comments today and for joining on this call, and thank you to the audience for listening to our thoughts on video and video use cases.