Business Continuity Series: Collaboration


A wave of collaboration tools entered IT environments this year as departments independently on-boarded solutions for video meetings and team collaboration. WWT’s Brandon Echele details the right set of collaboration solutions that can help as well as what organization’s need to consider to craft a long-term vision for workforce productivity.

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Read the transcript below:

- Hi there. My name is Brian Feldt, World Wide Technology. I'm joined today by Brandon Echele who leads our calling and meetings practice. Brandon, thanks for taking some time out today.


- Yeah, anytime.


- Today we'll be talking about the massive role that video conferencing and conferencing solutions play in the workforce productivity and keeping business continuity going. Brandon, video conferencing tools have been growing in importance long before we all started working from home in a permanent fashion right now. Well through the last few months, this entire workforce has been stuck working from home. It seems more vital than ever. No doubt companies have already been taking this approach in shifting employees to working from home but now that we're a month in to this process what should organizations be looking for as it relates to these platforms?


- Well I think there are a number of things that organizations can do to review what they've already likely deployed. Most of these organizations already had some sort of video conferencing platform like you'd mentioned. But it may be now that we're, you know, four or five weeks in, maybe a little longer for certain people, that they take the time to go back and maybe survey their user groups or at least a subset of user groups, maybe across a couple different business units. Especially ones that weren't routinely working from home before. And then once you get into that survey, a couple of things are there to maybe focus on but how is their join experience? Are they having issues joining? Are they having issues scheduling? Looking at those analytics over these past four weeks, you couldn't probably glean quite a bit of information if someone still hasn't hosted a meeting is it because that from a user profile, that's just not part of their role? Or is it because maybe they're not comfortable with the tool and they don't want to feel embarrassed or let anybody know. The other piece of that then is if they are joined, how is that experience? Are they using video? The more we work from home, the more we isolate ourselves. It really does become important that we're turning that camera on and providing that body language, providing that personal connection other than just audio. The other part of that is the video piece. You know, what tools are required for that? Laptops, cameras come a long way but if you're sitting in front of your PC for six to eight maybe 10 hours, and the majority of the work, if it's meetings based, it's likely going to be on that camera. But is that laptop camera sufficient enough? Do they have a second screen and if they don't have a second screen, is there a way to enable an expense for that? Today there are so many different camera options out there. There really is no excuse not to have a good web cam if you're gonna have a prolong work from home environment.


- So we certainly all know about the platforms: Webex, Zoom, etc. We've been using them. We're starting to get more comfortable with the software portion of that. You had mentioned a few of the hardware components of that but endpoints like you said really do play a much more important part than people probably think.


- Yeah, hardware endpoints, they really can make a big difference. It really can enhance that user experience. When everybody moved from the office to the home, I think there's probably quite a bit of people who were all of a sudden reliant upon soft known only. Their experience prior to that was they came to the office, they had a desk phone, they likely had what may have been an antiquated plug in headset. They were use to that. They knew where the speed dials were. They had speaker phone. They had a headset. So as you move this far in to work from home, reevaluating what those user experiences are and saying, "Hey, would you be more comfortable with that phone?" Most phones today, business phones, don't require a VPN connection. They don't require a lot of network connectivity so those are good additions. The other one would be if Bluetooth headsets. They're really a myriad of options from the AirPods to noise canceling, over ear, integrated microphones. Those are really part things we should be looking at to make that experience better. Not just for the person in front of the screen but all the participants and coworkers behind it. Video endpoints as well, if you're going to be doing a lot of video, you need to maybe co-annotate, maybe you need to share or they can even serve a second screen now so it really can become that desk phone, second display and video/microphone/speaker addition.


- We talk about these video meetings. Oftentimes between one or two people, or three, four, or maybe as large as ten or so but what maybe a lot of people aren't thinking of really from the onset of when they're working from home is these corporate type updates or these all hands company calls that can have hundreds or thousands even of people on them which I would imagine really puts a strain on bandwidth and the platform. So what other types of solutions maybe are out there that can handle very large crowds but also kind of offer that intimate type of experience at the same time.


- Yeah. What we're seeing today is that as opposed to last year and the year before or the recent past where organizations would have, they might would have a town hall once a quarter, maybe bi-annually. They had a corporate update where maybe the earnings were shared, program changes, things like that. Those happen maybe once a year, like I said but what we're seeing today is that organizations are really being asked and they do themselves a disservice if they don't, over communicate and that is, at this point in time you can't over communicate at the moment. So... having the ability to get large event, large participant numbers in events, I think is really crucial. We've seen it moving in that direction over the last couple weeks. We've got customers, we're even doing it ourselves, almost weekly town halls with the entire organization and the way to do that is you either have to already have that feature set in your conferencing platform and what we're seeing is that a lot of companies didn't necessarily have that because they went to an outside party to produce it. Well, to have somebody come into your organization, if everybody's working from home really doesn't make sense. So, already have that function. You need to make sure that you're licensed for it. And then, I did mention the bandwidth piece. It may not be if you're running everything back through your network via VPN, it may not be the best solution to have that meeting platform as this event space. So most of these event meeting platforms now have some sort of integration into live streaming. Whether that's in to Microsoft Stream or YouTube or Vbrick, or Kaltura or whoever it might be. They're enabled to send that out to a public forum.


- What about the resources that we might may be offering on our platform wwt.com whether it's for organizations that are looking for some quick fixes or better insight into what they're using today or what else might be in the market but also really, creating a long term sustainable plan for the future as remote work becomes more prevalent.


- Sure so the remote web page that we have on wwt.com has a lot of good content in here. It covers a number of different topics from VDI, so virtual desktops to conferencing platforms, to network preparedness for sudden work from home type scenarios. So if you're interested or if your platform, current conferencing platform doesn't provide that large event type space, we have free trials for Cisco Webex. And then if there are items that you know you're currently missing or you're currently, maybe, behind a little bit on in regards to whether it's an assessment, whether it's a persona assessment, whether it's network assessment, whether it's maybe just deploying virtual desktops in a timely manner, all of that information concerning these work-from-home topics are all here on our remote working page.


- [Brian] And that again can be accessed, you go to wwt.com and right up at the very top of the page there's a business continuity tab that you can see or you can go to the solutions tab into remote working as well. Brandon, those were the only questions I had for you as you get out of your desktop here. I just wanted to thank you again for taking the time of your schedule. I know given the nature of your work you're probably pretty these days and to the viewers interested in this topic, appreciate you taking the time out to watch this video and all of the resources along with other resources pertaining to business continuity are available on our website wwt.com and thank you again.


- Thank you.