Oct. 26, 2022 - The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to rethink their business operations, IT infrastructure, and company policies. Remote collaboration, through necessity, became the standard way of working and has remained popular even as many employees have returned to the office.
Fostering collaboration through video conferencing
While nothing can completely replace face-to-face interaction, technology—and here we are specifically referring to video—can provide the next best experience. It's up to the IT/AV department to equip workers with the tools they need to work and collaborate effectively.
Following is a look at the two major video conferencing trends for corporate environments: Dedicated VC (video conferencing) environments and BYOD (bring your own device) rooms.
Option 1: Dedicated VC environments
A major trend is the use of dedicated video conferencing hardware built around a specific platform. One example is Cisco, which has created its own video conferencing universe consisting of a variety of hardware and software for online meetings and team collaboration. Other players on the market, namely Microsoft Teams and Zoom, have taken the SaaS approach. Their business model is based on partnering with hardware vendors who create certified meeting room/video conferencing solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms or Zoom Rooms. These certified solutions are produced by vendors such as Biamp.
Overall, dedicated video conferencing solutions tailored to one specific UC platform are ideal for larger companies. Such organizations are interested in standardized solutions across multiple sites, so such a solution makes sense financially, for the IT team (one system to onboard and support) and for the user (one system to learn).
A dedicated VC environment typically consists of a touch interface as the central point of interaction. The other peripheral devices that make up the solution include a display or interactive whiteboard, speakers, webcam, and a microphone. The touch interface provides the few functions needed – join a meeting, start a meeting, make a call, present, turn on/off the mic, camera, and speakers.
Having dedicated video conferencing environments means employees must use the chosen and approved collaboration apps to ensure secure communications. Furthermore, all the major platforms have admin-only capabilities that manage access, configure settings and policies, manage devices, and more.
High-quality audio and video
Dedicated video conferencing hardware is typically created by manufacturers with long histories in the AV industry. These manufacturers have a proven track record for providing high-quality equipment. Also, equipment that is specifically designed for one application—such as video conferencing in corporate environments—typically has the ideal combination of features and specifications to perform at a high level. This contrasts with products from consumer electronics manufacturers, who tend to market one-size-fits-all products.
A dedicated VC solution is somewhat limited when employees wish to speak to external partners who've standardized on a different VC solution.
The diversity of users, stakeholders, and the wide range of video conference services means users require flexibility in their choice of video conferencing tools to collaborate effectively.
In large organizations, Shadow IT refers to IT systems that are deployed by individuals or groups other than the central IT department to work around the limitations of the primary system. While Shadow IT systems can lead to innovation and inspiration for future central IT solutions, they also increase control and security risks.
If employees feel limited, they might opt to not use those meeting rooms and find workarounds, i.e., non-approved solutions on their personal devices. This can increase the risk of security breaches and waste the dedicated conference room investment.
Dedicated video conferencing solutions have different price ranges, depending on the manufacturer and the application (e.g., huddle space vs. conference room). Furthermore, some solutions require a monthly license fee per device, which can quickly add up.
Option 2: BYOD video rooms
The opposite trend on the market is BYOD (bring your own device) video rooms where users bring their personal devices and preferred video conferencing applications to the meeting room.
BYOD video rooms give IT departments significant flexibility to create systems that match corporate requirements and users' needs. In a way, the options are limitless. In BYOD video rooms, the IT team has the freedom to piece together systems comprised of different devices from different vendors that work together seamlessly. A BYOD room can have wired and wireless connection options to increase compatibility with different device brands.
The flexibility of the BYOD video rooms enables the IT department to create solutions that satisfy stakeholders' needs while sticking to their budget. Video conferencing systems built on the BYOD concept can be scaled up and down as needs develop and as budgets change over time. A dedicated VC solution's costs are typically higher because of the need for additional equipment, such as a microphone, webcam, and speakers. While BYOD video rooms are more affordable than dedicated VC solutions, the total per-room cost depends on the room's size and specific demands. Still, with the possibility of connecting different devices and brands to a hub, the need to invest in additional equipment and specific UC platforms is minimized.
Potential for complexity
In software development, a major issue is "feature creep"—a tendency to increase project requirements during the development process beyond the project's original scope. The same can happen when developing specifications for a BYOD video room. The flexibility it provides can make it tempting to add more requirements and devices, which might unnecessarily "tech up" the meeting room.
Having too many devices and options to connect or share content in a meeting room can make it complex and confusing for users. This will also result in more support tickets and increased IT workload.
Generally, a dedicated hardware solution is more suited for internal communications. Depending on the needs, a dedicated hardware solution offers more security and a standardized experience in terms of UC platform, i.e., a one-size-fits-all model.
However, flexibility and pricing are key when determining the solution going forward. BYOD video rooms remove the locked experiences by vendors by providing flexible conferencing support for the majority of communications platforms, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, and many more. BYOD video rooms offer organizations the possibility to use their meeting spaces to host and accept video conference meetings through any of these platforms. External meetings are easier to join on the road because users simply use their preferred UC platform.
Learn more about the industry-leading dedicated VC and BYOD conference room solutions from Biamp.