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Melanie Fricke on Monday, December 05, 2011

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In a recent post about Visual Collaboration I wrote about the drivers for increased use of visual collaboration highlighting how the coming together of today’s business, technological, and social attributes will enable increased adoption. These drivers will move the experience away from the boardroom and conference room’s infrequent use for all employees to realize. The endpoint devices that users interface with must continue to evolve to include the integration of collaborative applications above and beyond video conferencing and visual collaboration. This will assure far greater adoption and impact since in the end it is about businesses working more effectively achieving better results.  In addition simultaneously sharing content, documents, and allowing real time annotation will open up dynamic involvement for all participants. If you have ever been part of one of these multi-functional visual collaboration sessions you know what I mean. The level of engagement and dynamics of involvement is simply amazing.

One requirement to assure visual collaboration is the framework of “Any to Any” or the ability for the underlying technology and network to allow any device or video protocol to connect to any other seamlessly. Just imagine having Verizon mobile phone service and only being able to make or receive calls only from someone on Verizon’s network. Now that wouldn’t work and users would not stand for that. Well that occurs today in the visual collaboration space as most manufacturer’s platforms either won’t allow for another manufacturer’s technology to connect or, when it is possible, not easy to operate. This lack of openness and high degree of complexity has been marginally acceptable for larger enterprises where video conferencing is used infrequently and primarily for internal use. Fast forward – Business needs are evolving across all industries and segments. As an example many companies are using more and more strategic partners to do work today than they did internally just a few years ago. Unlike “suppliers” these strategic partners are deeply integrated into the partner’s operations and directly responsible for results. Add to this a greater percentage of remote workers and the need to figure out better ways to include more and more people in critical decisions is required.

Specifically small businesses are amplifying this requirement. Many small businesses are small because they are optimum for their market or geography.  Contrary to popular belief it is not because they haven’t figured out how to become large. They simply operate more effectively in their defined space being small. Their distributed workforce, reliance on strategic partners, and requirements to collaborate more to get problems solved in minutes instead of days is a requirement to differentiate. This dynamic collaboration is best done in an open “Any to Any” collaborative environment. Visual collaboration experiences need to align to the spontaneity of how collaboration best occurs – real-time.

Today people in and out of the business environment use Skype, AppleTalk, and other applications to collaborate. The ability to seamlessly integrate these applications and connected platforms into a robust, secure, high quality experience that goes beyond video conferencing is needed. This needs to include dynamic document sharing, white boarding, and annotation all integrated into an easy to use platform that is seamless and intuitive to use.

The leading technology companies understand this. It’s time to act. Ubiquitous visual collaboration has to occur. To do so will be defined by solutions that consider the user’s needs, leveraged integrated technology, and a network optimized for data, voice, and video. Technology that’s open that optimizes on the video experience that is open and thus “Any to Any”.  No proprietary networks, protocols, or required applets to download. Instant “Any to Any” configured dynamically. This is how people collaborate most effectively. It’s not planned or scheduled weeks ahead of time. Make the experience spontaneous, easy and open and the results will be magic.

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