Engineered for the enterprise cloud-based video collaboration services, such as Lifesize and StarLeaf, are now offering a full suite of collaboration tools. These tools cover the majority of functionality offered in web conferencing services, coupled with the ability to deploy mature, enterprise capable solutions into the meeting room.

 

But my web conferencing provider offers room meeting systems!

We are seeing more and more web and meet-me conferencing providers offer room-based solutions these days. In almost all cases, these solutions are hybrid, comprising a hodge-podge of devices centred around a budget personal computer device. In many cases, the offering comprises devices from five or more different vendors (camera device, audio device, personal computer, software provider, operating system provider) with no collaboration or interaction between the various vendor. This results in no single point of contact for support, and a lot of finger pointing when something does go wrong.

 

In comparison, solutions from Lifesize and StarLeaf offer mature room-based devices with camera and audio devices, codecs and software all from one vendor, with a tightly integrated solution where the entire end to end solution is developed, tested and supported by a single vendor, ensuring not only the best support experience but also the best possible day to day experience, as all elements of the solution are designed to work together.

 

In addition to enterprise quality room-based devices, both Lifesize and StarLeaf offer mature desktop-based video collaboration tools, including not only the ability to perform a video conference from just about any device (desktop and mobile) but also enterprise level communications solutions such as chat, group chat, file sharing, meeting spaces, recording, streaming and more, in a tightly integrated platform that ensures the highest quality and simplest user experience.

 

Isn’t video conferencing more expensive?

There is a general misunderstanding that web conferencing is cheaper than video conferencing. This has quite often been born out of the models that web and meet-me conferencing providers have traditionally offered, including free start-up periods and models where each business unit within an organisation procures their own licensing. In such models, a view from the top initially indicates that the spend is minimal, as the total is often obfuscated by the dispersion of billable accounts within an organisation.

 

We often find that, when totalling all these spends (even more so when coupled with additional audio-conferencing spend), companies are shocked to see how much they are really spending on these so called “cheap” web conferencing solutions.

 

In addition, the proliferation of cheap intel-based personal computers (e.g. Intel NUC etc.) leads a mis-conception that room-based devices on web conferencing services are cheap. Whilst the initial PC can be considered cheap, by the time a high quality PTZ camera, microphone and speaker solution, operating system and licensing are factored in, these solutions often run at the same price or more than solutions from Lifesize or StarLeaf.

 

With video collaboration solutions, such as those offered by Lifesize and StarLeaf, you get cost savings benefits on many fronts:

  • Simple to understand user billing models for your end users, managed in systems that are designed for the enterprise, with the ability to see and manage all users within your organisation from a single view.
  • Pricing that is the same or cheaper than user-based pricing for web and meet-me conferencing services.
  • Free guest users – not only reducing cost, but also encouraging the use of video in a similar fashion to the phone where you can communicate with those outside your organisation.
  • Room-based devices engineered to last – we often see many customers with room-based solutions that are well over 5 years old – often over 8. Not only are you seeing your investment last longer than a PC-based solution (with a life expectancy of between 2 and 4 years), users are also seeing a better ROI due to room availability being much higher.
  • Simplified support – with engineered solutions from Lifesize and StarLeaf, you get a single point of contact for all support, not only reducing the time to fix and effort involved, but also increasing the availability of your rooms and users, again increasing ROI and decreasing total cost of ownership (TCO).

 

One ring to rule them all

We have heard of late that PC-based solutions can offer some flexibility – “What if one tool doesn’t do what we want it to do? We can always install something else on the PC.” The fact that you are looking at multiple tools indicates that the solution is wrong from the start.

 

Engineered video collaboration solutions from Lifesize and StarLeaf offer end to end capabilities that cover huddle spaces, small, medium and large rooms, desktop users, mobile users, remote and guest users, browser-based users, enterprise chat and file, recording and more, all from one vendor with only one process, method and interface for users to become familiar with.

 

One of the largest barriers to adoption of visual collaboration tools in business is ease of use for end users. Adding multiple tools for the user to choose from (to effectively achieve the same outcome) only leads to confusion for the end user and not only decreases user adoption, but also increases support overheads, thus driving TCO higher and higher.

 

Standards-based, simple calling

Video collaboration solutions offer standards-based calling with both point to point and multi-way calling capabilities. We recently had a customer call up saying “we have been using a web meet-me service and we wanted to speak to a partner organisation who was using a different web meet-me service, but we couldn’t call each other!” Web/meet-me services traditionally follow a workflow whereby a user/organiser schedules a meeting, a long number is provided, and all the other users get an invite to call into that meeting, having to enter meeting ID’s etc. to get access to the call and then communicate. How does that work when two organisations use different services that do not have any dial-out capabilities?

 

Imagine a world where every time you wanted to call someone on your mobile phone you had to first generate a meeting ID and pin code, SMS those details to the person you wanted to speak to and then both of you dialled into a meeting room, entered your details and spoke to each other. Sound crazy? That is exactly what web and meet-me services are asking you to do.

With video collaboration solutions engineered for the enterprise, you not only get the ability to schedule meetings and join simply with a single click of a button, you also get the ability to call other people as you would with your telephone.

 

In addition to the ability to make calls in any fashion you need to, you can also communicate with anyone else around the world that has standards based voice and video communications tools (SIP and H.323), breaking down barriers to communication.

 

In summary, video collaboration solutions which are engineered for the enterprise offer companies the capabilities of web and meet-me services, with up-front costs that are comparable, running costs that are the same or less, and total costs of ownership that are much lower over the lifetime of a solution.