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Aloha From AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific

November 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm PST

The TANDBERG team recently returned from beautiful and scenic Honolulu, HI, home of last week’s AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 Conference, where we demonstrated the additional functionality of the beta version of Movi3 and had TANDBERG’s own Shiva Hiremath discuss best practices in IP implementation to a mostly-government audience at the PACOM VTC Symposium.

The TechNet Asia-Pacific is a great opportunity for IT leadership and operations personnel at defense agencies to discuss best practices in implementation and use of technologies to help them accomplish their missions. This year’s show did not disappoint, with a great turnout of technology vendors and integrators meeting and interacting with military decision makers.

In light of a recent survey that showed many agencies consider cyber attack inevitable, and recent cyber attacks impacting such organizations as the White House, NSA, DHS, the State Department, the Pentagon, Treasury, the FTC, Secret Service and the DOT, it was little surprise to those in attendance that the hot topic of this year’s show was network security and cyber war.

With computers controlling everything from air traffic control towers to electric grids, the need for cyber security is at an all time high. For many defense agencies, the need to keep classified information confidential makes this need even greater.

Unfortunately, the need to protect classified information and defend networks often overrides other essential technological implementations. One example of this is video teleconferencing (VTC).

VTC solutions allow mission-critical information to pass face-to-face between constituents in the field and strategy planners miles away. By allowing individuals to communicate as if they were in the same room regardless of the distance separating them, VTC facilitates continuity of operations in emergencies, speeds information sharing and expedites decision making.

Unfortunately, with cyber attack and network security on the minds of all defense agencies, firewalls and other security measures are often put in place with little to no consideration for video networks. Luckily, products such as TANDBERG’s Video Communication Server (VCS) allow video data to traverse firewalls and allow both secure networks and VTC capability.

If there’s one thing that this year’s AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 Conference showed us, it’s that sharing information is important, but securing it is essential. At TANDBERG, we say they don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Video Interviews: Putting Your Best Face Forward

I had a conversation the other day with a former colleague, who, like many others, lost her job several months ago in the economic downturn.  After months of job searching, she found a promising opportunity with a large hospitality company and progressed several levels into the interview process.  The initial interviews were conducted face-to-face, and she did well enough continue through to the next several rounds of interviews.  When she got to the final stages of the process, the meetings with upper level management, who were based outside of the area, were conducted over the phone.  She confessed to me that the phone interviews were awkward, uncomfortable and did not go very well.  Ultimately she ended up not getting the job, and attributed a large part of it to her poor performance on the phone.

A job interview, like any business meeting, is a back and forth exchange of questions and answers.  Responses are not judged just on what is said, but facial expressions, body language and hand gestures, and it goes a long way in showing how confident a candidate is in their capabilities.  How much of that is missed over the phone?

Companies are realizing the shortcomings of conducting phone interviews and are changing the way they hire new talent.  Using videoconferencing technology, they are now able to meet face to face, but without costly and inefficient travel.   One example of this is One Communications, who is using telepresence to make hiring new employees more efficient and less costly.  At TANDBERG, we have implemented a practice of sending out pre-configured video endpoints to job candidates.  The interviewee simply plugs the video unit into a broadband connection and meets with each person, face to face.  When the interview is done, the unit is returned to the company in a postage paid, protected case.  I couldn’t help but wonder if things would have turned out differently for my friend, had she had these same opportunities.

Are proposed OPM personnel plans possible?

November 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm PST

If you were to speak with HR managers and recruiters for government agencies, or simply read the recent Where the Jobs Are report by the Partnership for Public Service and Monster Government Solutions, you’d quickly see a major problem on the horizon for the federal government. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there’s an upcoming personnel crisis.

According to the report, there are currently tens of thousands of available and unfilled, mission-critical jobs at federal agencies. Think about that for a second. That’s TENS OF THOUSANDS of people missing from the agencies responsible for protecting the country from enemies, educating your children, testing pharmaceutical products before they go to market and influencing the ways your taxpayer dollars are spent.

What’s worse, the federal workforce is aging. As this workforce “grays,” more and more employees are retiring without being adequately replaced, leaving short-handed government agencies with even larger employment gaps to fill.

What’s causing this personnel shortage? Why are people increasingly looking to the private sector for employment even during this ongoing recession? Compensation and the hiring process may be a part of it, but one of the increasingly important things employees are looking for in their jobs is flexibility, and that’s one area where the government has lagged behind.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has been fighting for a long time to get government agencies to embrace workplace flexibility and telework as a way to attract new employees looking for flexible work environments, improve the work-life balance of existing employees and keep aging employees in their positions until suitable, experienced replacements are available.

In fact, a recent article in NextGov details some new initiatives that OPM Director John Berry is looking to implement to make the workplace even more flexible. These initiatives include a results-only work environment that allows employees to set their own hours as long as they continue to be productive, accomplish goals and meet deadlines.

Unfortunately, despite all of OPM’s goading, agencies have been hesitant to embrace flexibility and telework, and they’re most likely going to be sheepish in embracing a results-only work environment. At the end of the day, managers in government agencies feel that losing sight of their employees means that they are losing control of them. They dislike the concept of employees going unsupervised and feel that cooperation and collaboration will be handcuffed by a distributed workforce.

Luckily, new technologies like video teleconferencing (VTC) are available for agencies that allow them to embrace telework with no reservations. VTC allows employees to communicate as if they’re in the same room, regardless of how far apart they are. This enables teleworkers to be supervised and still collaborate with their coworkers in much the same way people in the same office could.

By embracing VTC and teleworking, the government can offer the flexibility and improved work-life balance that potential employees are looking for and gain an important leg up on the private sector when it comes to hiring top talent, all while making its workforce more flexible, more efficient and more productive. It can also embrace such revolutionary ideas as the results-only workforce since employees could conceivably set their own hours without ever being unreachable or out of pocket.

Now that’s government working in a new and better way.

TANDBERG Delivers Colin Powell Via Video

November 5, 2009 at 7:08 pm PST

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting our first-ever TANDBERG Executive Forum with our special guest speaker, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), who addressed a crowd of private and public sector executives on the subject of being a leader during times of great change and crisis.

General Powell used the opportunity to speak about leadership and how to remain focused, take responsibility and work towards improving processes, organizations and people.

What made this particular speech different was that the General’s powerful message wasn’t just delivered to the audience seated in the room with him, but also to individuals across the country via TANDBERG Telepresence solutions.

Audience members were located in the Reston, VA, Dallas, New York and Boston regional TANDBERG offices and were connected via TANDBERG Telepresence. Through the power of TANDBERG Telepresence, the experience was the same for those audience members across the country as it was for the lucky few in Reston, VA that got to sit next to General Powell.

Yesterday’s event was the perfect example of how organizations are changing the way they communicate, with leaders from across the country able to gather without ever boarding a flight. Video is connecting people separated by thousands of miles and enabling them to collaborate and communicate as if they were in the same room. VTC is changing the way people communicate in every agency, office, school, and hospital in the world.

In a way, General Powell’s message of working to improve processes, organizations and people is completely in line with what TANDBERG is doing everyday. TANDBERG’s technologies are enabling organizations and the people who comprise them to accomplish tasks and processes more effectively and efficiently and to collaborate regardless of distance.

Now that’s a new way of working.

General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) Addresses Forum via Telepresence

November 5, 2009 at 9:35 am PST

Today we had the pleasure of hosting our first-ever TANDBERG Executive Forum.  Our special guest speaker, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), addressed a crowd of private and public executives on the subject of being a leader during times of great change and crisis.  Specifically, Gen. Powell Gen. Powell spoke on how to remain focused, take responsibility and work towards improving processes, organizations and people.  He is truly an inspiring speaker and leader.

Telepresence allowed us to gather dozens of leaders — across the country — for one event without a single flight being taken.   Audience members were located in four of our regional TANDBERG offices (Reston, VA; Dallas, TX; New York; NY and Boston, MA) and connected via TANDBERG Telepresence.   With the exception of the lucky few that got to sit next to General Powell, the experience was same for everyone at the event regardless of location.   That is the power of Telepresence.

Stay tuned!  The TANDBERG Executive Forum will continue to host thought leadership events; bringing together distinguished executives from the private and public sectors to discuss current topics.   Today was the perfect exhibition of how organizations are changing the way they do business.