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Workspace Video

February 3, 2011 - 0 Comments

Defining Your Approach to Workspace Video

A companion post to “Techwise #83 – Extending Video from Boardroom to Workspace

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Definitions are changing. Is your dictionary up-to-date?

Workspace. The definition of the workspace has changed because the workforce itself has changed.  Many employees are still sitting neatly in offices and cubicles, but they are also now global, remote and mobile.  They still come together in boardrooms and all-hands meetings, but they also come together in virtual environments, sometimes from their hand-held tablet in a hotel lobby.

Work. The definition of work itself has changed, and workers are spoiled on speed. Information flows more like fast food than a sit-down dinner.  Just to make it more challenging, travel budgets that use to enable face-to-face contact have been slashed and will never return to the “good old days.” This has created new communication gaps that need to be filled to stay competitive in this new Nascar race… and IT leaders are holding the keys.

Collaboration. Collaboration technology has a new definition too.  It used to mean sticking a document in a shared folder so multiple people could access it.  Now it refers to the complete set of tools that workers use to connect with each other and get the job done.  As Robb Boyd describes in his Keys to the Show segment, this includes using video in places outside the classic “videoconferencing room.” And just to make it tougher on IT, it’s a highly situational choice about which tool gets used and when.

Meetings. All meetings are not the same, with many factors affecting a user’s choice – location, objective, availability of rooms and devices, and whether that storm front is going to cancel your flight.  I think the choice depends mostly on what you are focusing on at that moment in time:

  • Face-to-Face – When you need to build trust, persuade or rally the troops, there is nothing like the immersive video of Cisco Telepresence to replicate the face-to-face experience. The “enormous nuances” in facial gestures and body language that Mike Walker talks about make an enormous difference in speed-to-understanding and speed-to-agreement.

  • Face-to-Data – When a visual prop is critical to the communication, you need to quickly and visually put it at everyone’s fingertips.  One could argue that seeing the “enormous nuances” in a technical diagram or budget spreadsheet in WebEx, combined with a passionate presentation in video, is equally as important as face-to-face in certain situations. Miro Polakovic demonstrates this in his workspace.

  • I’d like all of the above, please – Demanding users demand the ability to switch modes on a dime, check if an engineering expert is online, or invite partners to join ad hoc… and “oh by the way, I need to record this for the boss who is on a plane right now.” The new hybrid meeting needs hybrid options.

Architecture. Let’s get back to the IT pit crew.  The drivers need to be able to steer, but we all know that what’s under the hood really wins the race. Check out Techwise TV episode 83 for technical considerations around video in the workspace before you talk to your business leaders.  Learn how Cisco architecture brings voice, video and data together and makes it easy to use; how the H.264 video codec will improve performance for users; and how technologies like voice-activated Active Presence keep the conversation flowing smoothly.  You’ve got to get the engine right so drivers can focus on driving business.

Cisco has long been a leader in voice technology, and has grown by both innovation and acquisition.  Two of the product families we featured in this Techwise episode, WebEx and Tandberg, were already best-of-breed when they were acquired.  Now they’re evolving and will work even better together. David Hsieh does a great job of describing why this is so important in the opening segment.

One more metaphor. However you feel about the importance of video in the collaboration mix at your company, you’ll probably agree that the wagon train is generally moving in the video direction.  So the question remains… where do you want to hitch your wagon?  To a team of matched horses?  Or to a variety of barnyard animals that may or may not eat each other?  Either approach may get you there, but one is a much smoother ride.

Register here for the new Cisco Virtual Connection to view the show!

David Goad is an easily excitable online collaboration veteran with a passion for personal productivity. He is a senior manager with Cisco’s Collaboration Marketing team and can be reached at

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