By: Corey Moss
As someone who has been in the AV industry for quite some time, much of it in integration sales, I, along with many others, find it apparent that we now spend much of our daily lives communicating and collaborating through certain ways like never before at work, school and even getting together socially. We refer to the technology realm full of hi-tech solutions and devices to interact in our daily lives of business and education as unified communications and collaboration, or UC&C. In terms of the audiovisual industry’s chief focus, the UC portion is in part defined as:
Integration of real-time enterprise communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice, mobility, audio, web & video conferencing and data sharing including web connected electronic interactive whiteboards.
Video conferencing, a main UC platform which the industry has been providing for quite some time, consists of long-time providers Polycom, Cisco , and Lifesize to go along with those who most recently entered the market providing cloud and software-defined solutions – including Blue Jeans , Acano (now a part of Cisco Collaboration), Videxio, Pexip and numerous others.
Videoconferencing on an iPad
In the past, video conferencing could only be accomplished through the use of an integrated manufacturer meeting room codec or proprietary desktop system with no mobile device capabilities. We can now achieve this on all types of mobile devices, laptops and PC’s, along with integrated room systems and even portable solutions like the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect through the use of these well-developed cloud and software-defined applications. This represents the outstanding innovation we continue to see. Interoperability with devices, integrated room system equipment and services including Skype, Skype for Business and WebRTC is always an important consideration – here is an example with Videxio.
I refer to it as the AV world of UC as it does expand outside of the audiovisual environment, though when we concentrate on UC in the market for the most part we focus on videoconferencing. However, messaging as well as data sharing also plays a factor. Like the popular messaging app Slack, Cisco Spark also provides real-time messaging capabilities along with video and call features as well as data and file sharing capabilities geared toward enterprise business.
Collaboration is of course considered a part of the equation in terms of a holistic approach to doing business, as well as working with others on the education level. Certain solutions provided by manufacturers used in both business and education provide excellent options with BYOD/mobile devices. Though there are many providers of collaboration solutions, InFocus has what I consider the most wide-ranging collaboration product environment with large interactive touchscreens, videoconferencing and collaborative visualization solutions.
Visual collaboration is another innovative category which expands the meeting and education environment. Oblong Industries is one of these solutions providers with Mezzanine, which gives you a Minority Report type of user experience with device interaction while utilizing an electronic wand for document and application sharing on installed room displays. Prysm is another with their Visual Workplace platform, where, as the company states “social interaction and mobile access unite with online, visual workspaces,” gives teams the ability to collaborate in a cloud-based workspace. Bluescape is a third option utilizing a visual collaboration workspace solution which gives an organization the ability to collaborate more efficiently in the cloud.
Oblong Mezzanine Meeting Room Display Collaboration System
I find the fact that numerous AV industry integration companies have made UC&C a major focus in terms of the growing range of solutions they can provide to their customers. This has no doubt given them a greater ability to continuously enhance their business and education client’s communication and collaboration experience.
In my opinion, this dynamic and innovative realm of audiovisual technology will continue to drive more integrators as well as the industry well into the future.
Corey Moss has been in the AV industry for almost 20 years in commercial integration sales, and as a writer and podcaster. You can catch up on his current writings at Convergent Tech Blog.