In the second of his series of articles for Computerworld NZ, Gary Denman, MD of Polycom ANZ explains the importance of starting with the end game in sight and offers ten questions that you can ask to evaluate a unified communications solution. 


Gary_Denman.jpgPreviously, we looked at the rise of the collaborative workplace and the role unified communications (UC) is playing in this. The next step in the UC journey is thinking about evaluation.

It’s important to start with the end game in sight. Where do you see video adding value to your business and how do you decide what video solution is right for you?


The most successful use of video we’ve seen is where our customers have spent time really thinking about their business model, their teams, their customers, the supporting network infrastructure, and business processes. If you are responsible for IT, this means sitting down with your management team and identifying how video will add value and drive revenue growth across all areas of your business. Undertaking this evaluation upfront will be time well spent and it will deliver returns when you start getting involved in partner and vendor negotiations.


Encouraging people to make the behaviour changes needed to accept new technologies remains one of the IT department’s biggest challenges.


When considering user adoption, my advice is stick with what you know.


If you choose a solution where you have to type an IP address or some other long acronym it can be difficult and time consuming and your video investment risks becoming an overpriced room dressing.


However, if you select a system that delivers a simple user interface that people are familiar with, then adoption becomes much easier.


In 90% of meetings we share content. Your video solution should be able to deliver the same content sharing tools remotely that you would have access to face-to-face. Effective video collaboration enables you to see and share content like spreadsheets and presentations in real time which improves collaboration, decision making and engagement.


When thinking about your digital content requirements, it comes back to understanding your company and your business processes. What type of information do your people need to share and receive in order to get the job done? Are your people predominately office based or do you have mobile workers who need remote access to share content and attend meetings while on the move?


This will then help determine the type of video collaboration solution and supporting network bandwidth that will best suit your needs.


There are no magic bullets - it may seem like more work, but spending time doing your homework upfront definitely pays off. You will have a far more productive conversation with partners and vendors if you already have an idea of where you need video to make an impact.


Ten questions to evaluate a solution


1.  Who will be the main users of video in your workplace: office based workers, mobile workers, vendors or customers?


2.  How will video be used: group meetings, sharing content, HR recruitment and training, one-on-one conversations, customer meetings or multiple uses?


3.  Where do you want video available: conference rooms, small meeting rooms, desktops, smartphones, tablets, laptops or a combination of the above?


4.  What standard of experience will users demand: high-definition (HD) video and audio, traditional conference style, split screens, flexible anytime, anywhere connectivity?


5.  What content needs to be shared: spreadsheets, diagrams, presentations or video?


6.  Do you need to collaborate in real time: such as remote teams working together on shared work files or using digital whiteboards?


7.  Is it open standards and inter-operable: does it have the flexibility to integrate and work with existing network infrastructure and other vendors?


8.  Will the investment be future-proofed: can the solution be updated to maintain relevance with changing technology?


9.  Is your network prepared: do you have the right bandwidth and quality of service to support increased collaboration - sending and receiving high definition (HD) content?


10.  Are your network connections secure?




Many authors on The View from APAC have recently touched upon the changing nature of the workspace, and how UC can help connect and enable productivity. It is also a topic now discussed more and more frequently in the media across Asia Pacific and beyond.


Recently writing the first of his series of articles for Computerworld NZ, Gary Denman, MD of Polycom ANZ contributed his view on the growth of the collaborative workspace and what’s driving this transformation. We share that here:


Gary_Denman.jpgIn the technology industry, we’re always looking to the future – asking what will be the next big thing and what role will technology play? Right now we’re seeing an exciting trend emerging in communications technology that is allowing us to defy distance – and transform the relationship between the workplace and how people work.


The line between home and work is continuing to blur, and employee demands are changing at a rapid pace. Unified communications (UC) and video collaboration is playing a major role, transforming offices into smarter, more innovative work spaces.


The beauty of UC is that it brings all communication services under a single user experience, letting staff engage and work together in whichever way works best for them.


Whether you are looking at integrating a new UC strategy or future-proofing your existing one, there are a few things to think about. What type of unified communications solution is right for your organisation? How have trends like BYOD and mobility influenced your decision making process? Where does Microsoft Lync fit into the picture, and what does success look like? Over the coming weeks I will address these issues and more.


To kick off, let’s look at the growth of the collaborative workspace and what’s driving this transformation.


Getting more out of your bricks and mortar


When it comes to doing more with less, securing affordable office space is one of the largest investments companies make. It’s also one of the biggest challenges in growing economies as organisations need to accommodate expanding workforces in markets where premium office space is in short supply.


Work from anywhere, anytime employee


We are also seeing changes in the way we work – witness the rise of the mobile worker. Forward-thinking companies and employees are no longer restrained by office or country location.


These anytime, anywhere employees need technology that enables them to stay connected with colleagues, partners and customers while on the move.


Collaborative workplaces


Workplace collaboration is now a blend of formal and informal processes, as groups of people connect, share, plan and action. These groups are cross-functional, and often cross-geographical.


By designing an office with remote collaboration technologies such as video conferencing and providing seamless access to smart work tools like digital whiteboards, a workplace becomes more connected, more collaborative, and more cost-effective.


So what’s the upshot? In the future, more flexible working patterns that allow both organisations and their external stakeholders to work smarter from anywhere will be the norm. Many companies are already starting to benefit from this new way of working by developing workplaces with technology solutions that enable instant communication and high definition remote collaboration in real time.


Gary’s next article will discuss how to approach finding the right UC solution for your workplace.


Gary Denman took over as MD of Polycom A/NZ in April 2012. In this role, Gary is responsible for developing the long-term business growth and market strategy for the ANZ region.


The on-demand webcast about Polycom's new breakthrough solutions is available for replay. Watch it now
Featured Authors