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August is government show month

August 10, 2009 at 9:57 pm PST

We’ve got a busy month planned -- we’re visiting three shows in August to share how our video conferencing technology can create a stronger, more efficient and greener America. With the Administration’s interest in cutting expenses and operating more effectively, government agencies are looking for ways to increase productivity and become more environmentally-friendly at manageable costs, while continuing to meet constituent needs.

Our first show started yesterday. We are at Booth #518 at the GSA Networx Conference in Chicago through August 13. We are showing how high-definition video conferencing and mobile video products and services can increase collaboration and allow cooperation between government employees regardless of the distance between them.

From August 18-20, we will be at Booth #539 at Army LandWarNet in Ft. Lauderdale. We will be sharing how video conferencing can reduce the need to travel and enable face-to-face, real-time collaboration from the battlefield to Command and Control centers across the globe.

In late August, we head to Air Force Information Technology 2009 (AFITC) in Montgomery, Alabama. We will be at Booth # 314 from August 24-27. This year’s theme is The Warfighter’s Edge in Battlespace, and the show will focus on how advanced technology deployed by the Air Force gives our nation’s warfighters an unprecedented advantage over our adversaries. We look forward to showcasing how video conferencing can give our military a vital technological edge by allowing for face-to-face communication on the move, keeping them in contact with commanders wherever they may be.

TANDBERG will be posting about what’s happening during these shows throughout the month. Keep an eye here to find out about hot topics and what the government is looking for in technology.

Will you be at GSA Networx, Army LandWarNet or AFITC? Stop by to say hello and learn more about video conferencing.

Three Key Things to Consider When Choosing Video Conferencing Solutions

Video Conferencing Buyers Guide

Video Conferencing Buyers Guide

Three key things businesses should consider when choosing visual communications solutions are:

1.Quality of video:

To experience the optimal benefits of video communications, HD quality is absolute. With anything less than HD video, you quickly begin to lose the feeling of connectedness with the person on the other end because facial expressions, reactions, and visual cues become less apparent. This is a key differentiator between business caliber video and consumer video.

2. Total experience
When considering the entire video experience, ask: Is it easy to connect with everyone in the organization via multipoint calls? Can you collaborate by showing desktops and applications? Is the solution easy to deploy, manage, and scale as you grow? Does the quality the video projects reflect well on your business’ image?

3. Security
Lastly, because consumer PC video solutions are web-based and not designed for business use, they may be susceptible to security risks which can result in confidential information getting into the wrong hands.

See other things to consider when purchasing video.

Virginia's Telework Day — leading by example

August 6, 2009 at 9:59 am PST

Monday was Statewide Telework Day in Virginia, during which companies and individuals were encouraged to work from home or a remote location to save energy and increase efficiencies. The initiative grew from Governor Tim Kaine’s push to reduce energy consumption by state offices.

The Governor’s office sees telework as a business strategy that can have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line, improve organizational efficiency, and reduce traffic on Virginia’s roads. Here at TANDBERG, we practice telework on a regular basis as a way to decrease our company’s carbon footprint. We have the added benefit of video conferencing systems in our homes and on our laptops, so we can conduct face-to-face meetings with colleagues, customers or partners from wherever we work.

In the past year, the TANDBERG telework program has allowed us to replace much of our unnecessary business travel with in-person video calls, effectively helped us save 21,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, over $45 million in travel costs, and about 38,250 productivity hours.

On Statewide Telework Day, approximately 75 of our Reston, VA, employees participated, eliminating almost two metric tons of carbon emissions and creating almost 100 hours of productivity by allowing employees to avoid traffic.

Did your organization participate in Telework Day?

Recession leading to innovations in education

August 3, 2009 at 10:00 pm PST

Media reports show that joblessness is growing and that spending is down, but, remarkably, the economy should see a rebound in the second half of 2009. Some say that recovery is dependent on jobs, because spending will only go up when jobs are realized.

An interesting side effect of this recession’s unemployment has been the boost in people who are enrolling in teacher training courses. According to a recent Washington Post article, interest in teacher preparation programs geared toward job-changers is rising sharply and applications to a national retraining program based in 20 cities rose 30 percent this year.

This is good news for education, since almost two million teachers are expected to retire from public schools in the next decade. It should also be interesting to see what the effect of pulling teachers from corporate America will have on the system as a whole. They have to learn how to engage distracted and possibly bored students, according to the report, but they could also bring exciting change.

Putting experienced professionals who are used to working in technologically advanced situations could lead to great innovation and put new teaching methods on a fast track. Technologies like interactive blackboards have changed the way children learn and Kindle could be used to save a few pounds in a backpack.

Some classrooms have already revolutionized learning through video conferencing. Classrooms across the United States use it to take children in rural areas on virtual field trips, to unite classrooms and children in different parts of the world to offer exciting cultural insights and to bring experts into classrooms that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn from them.

A great example is how Cooperating School Districts (CSD) of Greater St. Louis uses video conferencing to save money, share resources and create educational excellence for the 300,000+ students it serves. CSD is as a consortium of 65 school districts in the St. Louis metropolitan area, as well as four outlying counties and St. Louis City. It uses video conferencing technology for electronic field trips, collaborative projects across school districts and bringing authors or experts from cultural institutions into the classroom, as well as staff development and global connections.

With resources at a low not seen since the Great Depression, maximizing technology for education makes increasing sense. Upfront expenditure can create exponential reward, not only by saving a school money and time over years, but also by turning an ordinary classroom into an extraordinary learning environment.

Interoperability a must for continued adoption of video conferencing

July 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm PST

Video conferencing has come a long way since the early 1990s when it was based on proprietary algorithms with PictureTel’s SG3/SG4, VTEL BlueChip, CLI CTX+ as well as several other algorithms and protocols. That was a time of lack of interoperability and a perception that the technology just didn’t work.

Today, we have a comprehensive portfolio of standards for both H.323 and SIP and customers, who enjoy the benefits of vendor choice while still being able to communicate with others.  In a recent article in Telephony, the necessity of interoperability was addressed and some vendors are still saying it is not a “must”-- which is exactly the failure which contributed to video conferencing losing steam in the 1990s.

Vendors that have been in this business for years realize the importance of interoperability and only vendors new to the business think that their proprietary way of doing it is better than working with the hundreds of thousands of installed units in the field.  This is evident by the failure in connecting to the standards compliant world of H.323 and SIP devices.  Some vendors started in the market just a few years ago and told the public there was no need to connect to “legacy” systems since those systems were of poor quality.

The reality is those “legacy” systems are capable of high definition at 1080p and 20kHz CD quality audio as well as many other things that have evolved since the 1990′s. And guess what -- many companies don’t want, or can’t afford, to recreate their entire systems.  Industry veterans have built the highest quality products available and have also maintained backwards compatibility to the installed base of H.323 and SIP devices by designing that ability natively into the devices.  The new proprietary way of doing things is to do it your way and then sell a gateway that converts the new way to the standard way.  Sounds good, but gateways simply do not scale.

In summary, proprietary methods have never stood the test of time in this industry, just as they’ve failed in so many other industries.  Soon or later the vendors must converge for the technology to be successful and that convergence will be around worldwide standards.  For telepresence to really take off, some of the new players in the industry need to get behind standards based devices.  Lack of choice is rarely a good thing.