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TASSCC Annual Conference

April 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm PST

For more information about this event, please visit TASSCC Annual Conference.

VoiceCon 2010: It’s a wrap

March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm PST
TANDBERG booth at VoiceCon 2010

TANDBERG booth at VoiceCon 2010

Early in my career I attended dozens of trade shows, when the test of a “good” show was more about how big and theatrical the booths were versus how relevant the technology was.  Too often, the exhibitors spent more time talking with each other and playing with whatever gadget was being given away than engaging in real dialogue with real prospects.

I didn’t know what to expect at the VoiceCon Conference & Expo held last week in Orlando, Florida, but much to my delight the excitement in the air was impossible to ignore. This show reminded me that there are still “good” shows that are relevant and attract people you want to talk to.  I felt like the show attendees were on a mission of sorts to see the latest in unified communications (UC) and collaboration.

VoiceCon is known to be the source for the latest UC solutions and it didn’t disappoint. There was lots of talk about new subscription-based hosted services and Microsoft OCS integration capabilities, but it was the enthusiasm around video conferencing and telepresence that was really exciting.  I spoke with  some people who were looking to leverage video as a part of their UC strategy and some who just wanted to find a sleek endpoint for their office. Many were impressed by new desktop telepresence offerings. It was really refreshing to meet people at the exhibits who knew what they wanted to see and were genuinely awed by what exhibitors had to show them. It was really cool to see them get energized about the possibilities for video conferencing and telepresence in their lives.

Video communications have been an integral part of my life, both professional and personal. During  this trip, video allowed me to connect with my family at home.  After being away from home for 2 days, my 11-month old daughter was really excited to see me when I called home using the TANDBERG EX90 from the exhibit floor.  She kept reaching out to give me a hug -- something that wouldn’t have had the same heart-touching effect on a plain old voice phone.

I am already looking forward to VoiceCon next year to see the latest technology advancements, and with video, my time away from my family will be more bearable.

VTC manufactures a better way of working

March 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm PST

The American economy has been shifting over the course of the last few decades, away from manufacturing and more towards services. This shift has been compounded by the current recession, as sales shrink companies are forced to reduce production, cut down on costs or close shop.

Although many cities have made the successful switch from a manufacturing-oriented economy to a services-oriented economy, some have struggled. This has led to significant unemployment, and has resulted in population loss.

In fact, a recent Bloomberg article cited government data to show that manufacturing powerhouses are seeing their largest declines in population since 2000. Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania accounted for eight of the 10 industry-dependent metro areas experiencing the largest population losses. Aside from New Orleans, whose population loss is attributed to Hurricane Katrina, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit saw the largest population drops directly attributed to the economy.

This drop in population and tax revenue is a major problem for these cities, as it creates a large number of budget concerns and infrastructure issues.

Although American manufacturing has made a slight rebound since the beginning of the year, there are other ways that these cities can help retain their existing populations and even operate more effectively and efficiently in the face of declining populations. One of those ways is widespread adoption of video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions.

Following are a few examples of how video can be utilized:

- Education. Video in education provides high quality education for students at a fraction of the cost. VTC enhances education through distance learning opportunities and sharing teacher resources via video instead of transporting students from one side of the county to another.

- Judicial systems. Utilizing video in the judicial system allows cities to reduce the need to transport criminals, which is an expensive and dangerous process. It also can reduce the need to have experts physically appear in court and can help judges issue warrants and perform other duties faster while improving the safety of American citizens.

- Telework. What if that employment was available elsewhere, but available without the need to relocate? VTC allows employees to communicate and collaborate as if they are in the same room. It also allows managers to see their employees and eliminates many of the perceived problems some companies have with teleworking.

Helping states overcome budget crunches in this economy and giving residents a reason and the means to stay? Now that’s a new way of working.

5 Ways Financial Service Companies are Using Video Conferencing

March 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm PST

deq-logo-financial_assistance_10384_7Financial institutions are just like any other business, in order to grow they must be able to service their clients better than the competition. In order to achieve this goal many financial institutions are turning to video conferencing and telepresence for seamless, real-time, personal interactions. Employees can talk with clients and co-workers face-to-face while in different locations. Here are five areas financial institutions are reaping the benefits of video:

  1. Expanding specialty services -- Video conferencing allows the extension of services preformed by  specialty personnel without the additional costs of staffing them at every branch. This allows clients the ability to meet and work with the specialists face-to-face in a confidential setting.
  2. Ensuring professional certification - Video conferencing provides a simple way to help employees gain and maintain their professional certification by helping staff attend classes held in remote locations.
  3. Improving call center profitability -- Using video conferencing allows companies to capitalize on the profits gained by having call centers in remote locations because they are able to provide around-the-clock assistance with out the costs of travel.
  4. Reduce unproductive travel time -- Video conferencing eliminated the need for trainers to travel to different branches every time a teller left and a new one needed to be trained.
  5. Improving team communication and collaboration - When members of product management teams are spread across several different locations, video conferencing helps solidify team dynamics by allowing constant face-to-face collaboration.

By using video conferencing and telepresence in these five simple ways, financial institutions are able to increase profits and savings while reducing travel.

Any other ideas as to how financial institutions can benefit from video conferencing?

The above post is a condensed version of 10 Ways Financial Services Companies are Using Video Conferencing to Reduce Staff, Extend Specialty Services, and Increase Profitability, follow the link to read the full article.

Video traverses the highest walls: unites children with parents

March 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm PST

In recent posts on Break Down the Walls, we’ve discussed the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in the correctional system. We talked about how VTC is being used in prisons in CA to deliver medical care to prisoners without the need to take them out of jail. We’ve also shown cases in MI where VTC is being used along the same lines for first arraignments and during trials.

The end benefits of these VTC implementations are two-fold. Financially, the state saves significant taxpayer dollars by no longer having to transport and guard prisoners leaving correctional facilities for medical care and trials. There is also an added benefit to public safety.

However, not all uses of VTC implementations in prisons are meant to keep prisoners behind bars and separated from the outside world. Some prisons are using their VTC solutions for the completely opposite reason, to bring prisoners closer to the world, and their lives, outside of prison.

Many people forget that prisoners are more than just individuals who were found guilty of breaking the law. Prisoners are someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, grandfather or grandmother, or brother or sister.

In fact, the State of Florida estimates that 15,000 children in Miami-Dade County alone have at least one parent in jail. This is why the state recently approved a new program that was launched on March 19, 2010 designed to bring these children closer together with their incarcerated parents via VTC.

Using VTC solutions, children from Miami-Dade are now able to connect with their incarcerated parents at the Family & Children Faith Coalition office. This ensures that imprisoned individuals can continue to play a role in their children’s lives, and gives area children the parental contact so important to their development. Also, the use of VTC for visitation eliminates the need for potentially traumatic security measures and searches that are a part of on-site visitation, and eliminates any security concerns for the child by keeping them outside of prison walls.

Using VTC to break down the walls between children and their incarcerated parents is a step in the right direction for both the healthy development of the children, and the rehabilitation of the parents. Now that’s a new way of working.