Make video work: Ensuring a successful deployment

In order to make video work for your enterprise, IT professionals need to tackle the technicalities that go along with a videoconferencing deployment.

Unified communications (UC) vendors and others are bringing numerous collaboration products to market. Increasingly these products offer video as a basic or optional feature. Now that sufficient bandwidth and capable devices are available to provide almost ubiquitous video connectivity, and we assume for the moment that we can all connect using video any time we want, what technical details must be in place to make video work?

Here are four components you'll need to make your corporate video deployment successful:

  • High quality audio is an absolutely necessary for your video quality. Everything breaks down if somebody can't hear or can't be heard. Beware of voice compression (i.e., G.729 CELP) occurring for some and not others.
  • The video connection(s) must be easy to set up and not take the first 15 to 30 minutes just to get everyone connected.
  • The video must be as close to full motion as possible. If things don't happen in real time, video becomes a distraction rather than an enhancement. Video compression (i.e., H.264) and bandwidth limitations can cause odd behavior.
  • Interoperability is necessary to make video work because more than one vendor product will inevitably be involved.

These pointers may seem obvious, but video collaboration gets tricky when people join from meeting rooms, desktops and personal devices. The Nemertes Research Group Inc.'s benchmarks show that organizations that integrate video among meeting rooms, PCs and mobile devices achieve the highest levels of video success.

Establish video use best practices for your users

The best approach to avoid potential audio, motion, connection and interoperability problems is to establish a set of use cases and best practices for video connectivity. The use cases should describe how to best connect over video for the broadest possible set of situations applicable to your business operations. Your UC technology and video conferencing vendors should (and I believe will) be happy to assist in describing how to best use the video tools available.

More tips on making video work

Learn how to calculate bandwidth for your desktop video deployment.

Use cases for video conferencing outside of real-time collaboration

Address the challenges of bringing video into UC architecture

A number of technical issues will need to be considered in establishing the video use cases. For video to work smoothly, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will rooms, remote desktops or mobile users be included?
  • Will voice compression be used for any of the participants? If yes, where will transcoding be provided?
  • Does your security strategy protect the enterprise in each possible combination of participants?
  • Will increased network bandwidth be needed? (Network simulation tools can help answer this question.)

Making the video business use case

Finally, another dimension of making video work is to understand the actual measurable benefits of video. Have they changed as technology has become more capable? The answer is clearly yes. In a nutshell, the primary benefits of video have shifted from saving travel costs to enhancing business operations. Any number of meetings can now be conducted effectively using contemporary video capabilities. Examples include video interviews with employee candidates, access to contact center resources, live or streaming video training sessions, and one-on-one or group collaborative meetings. Measuring these benefits is clearly in the realm of business case analysis rather than technical assessment. The bad news is that the video benefits are difficult to quantify and fall into the realm of soft costs. The good news is that the benefits of video are intuitively obvious as people collaborate and interact more effectively.

This was first published in October 2013

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