Digesting the Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams Capabilities Roadmap

After more than a decade of Microsoft “replacing and re-branding” its communications solutions, from LCS and OCS through to Lync and Skype for Business; we are now looking to a future with Microsoft Teams.

After more than a decade of Microsoft “replacing and re-branding” its communications solutions, from LCS and OCS through to Lync and Skype for Business; we are now looking to a future with Microsoft Teams. This latest announcement may have sent a thorough shock wave throughout the industry but in most cases,  it will not have phased the enterprise, since it is well used to deploying Microsoft solutions within an ever-changing landscape. Any enterprise currently moving to Skype for Business will now be busy planning for Microsoft Teams and looking to dig into the details in the recently announced roadmap from Redmond.

The Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams Capabilities Roadmap, is split into the 3 core sections; Messaging, Calling and Meetings, and looks to provide clarity on how and when enterprises might start migrating to Teams.

The Messaging roadmap importantly talks of federation and Skype for Business interop with persistent chat coming in the first quarter of 2018. Both features will be needed for external communication with organizations still using Skype for Business. This obviously includes the large number of on-premises Skype for Business users.

The ‘calling’ roadmap is where Microsoft Teams clearly has a lot of work to do. It’s true to say that there are no companies using Teams, as their primary telephony system today, as the features needed for this just don’t exist yet. Many of these features are coming in Q4 this year, at which point organizations might well start to be able to consider Teams as a desktop UC platform. Said that, several key features are not going to be available until the middle to end of 2018, making it difficult to roll out fully. E.g. existing certified SIP phone support and transfer of calls to PSTN. The later arrival of some of these features calls for careful planning.

The most interesting line on the calling roadmap is the Skype for Business interop and federation one; and here it is fair to say the roadmap is light on detail. We are told that Skype for Business-Teams Calling will be supported in the last quarter of this year but nothing beyond this headline. There are more questions than answers! Does this include point-to-point video calling? Does this include joining Skype for Business AVMCU meetings or Teams meetings, from the other client? Does it include content sharing? – Unfortunately, we still do not know the answer to these important questions.

For meetings, again, the detail is light, “application sharing” is slated before the end of the year. The reference to “give and take control in sharing” is also in this time- frame. Intriguingly, does this mean that RDP will be supported? And does this point towards content sharing interop to Skype for Business, which also supports giving and taking control?

Critically, “federated meetings” arrives in 2018. This will be the first time that meetings will really be able to invite third parties / external participants beyond today’s guest capability. This is critical for a true UC solution that works outside of your own organization.

The platform and devices line are also interesting, Microsoft’s own meeting room system support doesn’t begin until the end of mid 2018.

Of course, with all of the above, it is important to remember that this only applies to organizations using Skype for Business online. Skype for Business on-premises does not get replaced by Microsoft Teams, and here we are going to see a new Skype for Business 2019 server solution (vNext) instead. With this, enterprises can continue any move to Skype for Business on-premises safe in the knowledge that the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy will guarantee support for Skype for Business Server for 10 more years! (5 years mainstream and 5 years extended).

The diverging on-premises and online strategies mean that the interoperability and federation described in the roadmap is most important and really does need to ensure that both Skype for Business organizations and Microsoft Teams organizations can make full use of all of the features described.


How to choose a video conferencing solution

Video conferencing systems are getting seriously affordable for SMBs – here’s how to pick the right one for you

Communication and collaboration are critical to success in business and video conferencing (VC) is fast becoming an essential part of today’s rapidly evolving virtual workplace. Along with increased productivity and improved customer services, VC can accelerate decision making processes and help bring isolated remote workers back into the fold.

Huge savings in business travel costs will allow businesses to easily recoup their initial outlay in months. No more tedious road trips or expensive flights to customer sites means they can reduce their carbon footprint as well.

There’s a huge range of low-cost or free VC web apps available and prices for conference room solutions are now low enough to make them a reality for SMBs. This allows them to create a central hub where they can hold meetings that bring together physical and virtual presences, allowing them to share ideas, data and presentations.

Room service

VC room solutions come in all shapes and sizes, where the lowest cost models provide the video and audio hardware components only. Some products must be connected to a computer via a USB cable where they link up with a standard VC app running on the host – such as Skype for Business or Cisco WebEx.

That’s not to say they’re single user solutions. Far from it, as providing the app supports it, you can invite multiple remote users to virtual meetings and share your conference room video and audio feed with them along with content and presentations on your host as well as theirs.

Due to the size and weight of the cameras and speakerphone base units, most are only suitable for permanent installations. However, some USB connected products are specifically designed to be portable so you can boost your sales pitch by taking them with you and setting up ad-hoc conferences with potential clients and linking them up with sales and support staff at the head office.

Maybe you want your VC room to have an impressive HD display. No problem, as several products have HDMI outputs, allowing the camera video feed to be piped straight to an HD monitor or TV of your choice.

Pump up the volume

Audio is just as important in a meeting, as you don’t want participants straining to hear what everyone else is saying. Laptops and tablets with integral speakers and mics may be fine for one-on-one meetings but won’t cut it in a big meeting room with people spread out round a large table.

Professional VC room products have this covered, as their speakerphone bases incorporate multiple directional microphones and big speakers to pump the sound out. And if the volume is too soft or loud, you don’t want to be fiddling with your app to change it – so choose those with touch buttons on their surface for easy access to volume levels plus options to mute the mics.

We found that many products have an audio pickup range of up to 20ft but even that may not be enough if you’re organizing a big conference spread out down a long table. If this is a concern, choose vendors that offer optional satellite mic/speaker units which can be plugged into the main speakerphone to extend the range on-demand. Other features that add versatility are support for Bluetooth and NFC allowing users to connect their mobiles to the speakerphone and make hands-free calls.

Background noise such as traffic, slamming doors, footsteps in the corridor or staff in adjacent offices can also be an issue so look for systems that have noise reduction features. Polycom’s Trio 8800, for example, employs triple cardioid mics which reduce pickup from the side and rear while its Noise Block technology cuts out distracting background noises.

Bandwidth blues

Video conferencing isn’t as sensitive to network conditions as Voice over IP (VoIP) but you will still need plenty of bandwidth for streaming HD video. It pays to get this right, as if your users are unhappy with the quality, they will simply stop using it and go back to previous communication methods.

For a single 1080p stream at 30fps, we recommend around 1-2Mbits/sec and preferably 4-6Mbits/sec. For increased stability, use a wired network connection for the conference room system and don’t connect it over wireless.

Participants joining a VC meeting also need to ensure they have a good quality network connection and to highlight this, we connected a Macbook to a Lifesize meeting over a weak wireless signal from an AP on the next floor. The 1080p video stream was too much for it – quality was appalling and our meeting connection was dropped by the Lifesize app within 10 seconds.

Be prepared

VC is a great business aid but get it wrong and it can show you and your company up as unprofessional. The same mantra for interviews applies equally to video conferences that you’re hosting – be prepared.

Arrive early and make sure everything is connected, working and accessible – especially if it’s a client or customer meeting. Be careful with camera placement and ensure it only shows what you want participants to see.

Don’t sit in front of a sunlit window as most cameras can’t cope with the elevated light levels and can leave you in silhouette. Even choose your clothes carefully as bright colors and groovy patterns are just plain distracting.

And when your VC room is a success everyone will want to use it, so make sure you implement a booking system to avoid clashes and interruptions. With prices now very affordable for SMBs, there are some great VC solutions to choose from, so see which one fits your virtual workplace best.



Web and Video Conferencing Trends in the NHS 2017


The outcome of last year’s Wachter Review has been a renewed focus by Government on the creation of a digital NHS. Digital technology has the potential to revolutionize both the way the healthcare system runs, and how patients interact with it.

New ways of working such as online conferencing are growing in popularity as it enables collaboration between clinicians and in particular, allows for greater efficiency in internal meetings. But how does it fit in with the Government’s new NHS.net website due to launch next year? This new site is expected to allow patients to access a range of services online such as registering with a GP, accessing healthcare records, or getting medical advice.

Three GP practices across Essex and Greater Manchester already reportedly offer online video consultations with others expected to follow suit in the future so this is a huge potential area for healthcare organizations to explore.

With this in mind, the iGov Survey team worked with Brother UK, to consider how healthcare organizations are using video and/or web conferencing solutions to not only improve collaboration between staff and departments internally but also improve the service user and patient experience.

It also considered the types of environment in which conferencing solutions are used or could potentially be used by both staff and servicer users whilst it also sought to understand both the benefits and barriers of rolling the solution out organization-wide.

Following extensive review, we have now collated the resulting outcomes and the following report contains a summary of our key findings.

8 Ways students can benefit from Video Conferencing


Video conferencing has become a staple of many businesses in recent years, allowing companies to meet together and share ideas in a matter of minutes, saving them time and money in travel into the bargain. The technology has proved so versatile, that now the education sector has been trying it out in the classroom.

But what can you do with technology meant for the business room in the classroom? Does it really have a place in technology? You would be surprised at just how useful it is for teachers and students alike. Check out the various uses of video conferencing below, and see just how your students can use it to enhance their learning.

Go on a virtual field trip: While fun and hugely beneficial to students, sometimes it just isn’t feasible to take your class on a field trip. With time restraints, money concerns, and staffing issues, there just isn’t any way to take the students to your local museum or place of interest. However, not all is lost, as they trip can come to you. Video conferencing also means that distance isn’t an issue, so you can take the class on a trip somewhere thousands of miles away, just with the push of a button.

Talk to experts around the world: When you’re studying the people of Ancient Greece or the life cycle of a frog, it can feel as though there are limitations to your knowledge. You may not be able to bring an expert in the subject into your classroom physically, but you certainly can with video conferencing. For example, Mashable describes how one class, struggling with their writing skills, took part in a seminar about narrative writing online, and came away excited about what they could do next.

Collaborate with other schools: In past years, your class may have worked with a different class in your school on a project, or maybe another school in your local area. Video conferencing makes it possible to collaborate with schools all over the country, or even further afield. Lifesize shows how conferencing can help you reach other children all over the globe and allow your class to put a face to other cultures that otherwise that they wouldn’t have been able to, otherwise.

Expand access to education to rural areas: Most students can take their access to education for granted, but some struggle to learn due to their distance from a school, and other obligations that make learning take a backseat. Video conferencing means that they can attend school from home, fulfilling their right to an education, and allowing them to attend any field trips or other special events that the class may attend.
Record classes: You hope that none of your students will miss school, but sometimes it’s unavoidable due to illness or other complications. If a student is living with a long-term illness, they can miss out on a large amount of schooling, which can seriously affect their education. Video conferencing technology allows teachers to record their lessons and send the videos to their absent students. The student doesn’t miss out on anything, and you have a record of your classes that can be useful for evaluation purposes.
Create study groups: If students are given access to the technology, it can be used for all kinds of purposes. When putting together study groups, conferencing can be used to allow the group to meet up remotely. This is great if all of your students live distantly from each other, as it allows them to meet instantly from the comfort of their own homes.

Remote parent/teacher conferences: It can be difficult to get parents into the school for parent teacher conferences, with modern work schedules being so demanding and often unpredictable. Video conferencing allows you to meet up with your student’s parents wherever they are, keeping them in the loop without pulling them away from their job.

Integration with existing classroom technology: How Stuff Works explains how video conferencing can be used with technology already in your classroom. Interactive whiteboards mean that you can pull up the conferencing application to show the whole class, useful if you’re talking to an expert or want the whole class to see something on a virtual tour. If there’s laptops in your classroom, students can use them individually to talk to their peers. There’s a whole raft of ways that students can use their technology to get involved.

As you can see, there’s a huge range of ways that video conferencing solutions can enhance your students’ learning experience. With many companies, such as Blue Jeans, offering their services, you can choose the best service for your school and get started quickly. Why not try the technology for yourself and see what it can do for your classroom?


Why Bloomberg chose Vidyo to improve its video communications platform

Earlier this year, Vidyo announced that Bloomberg selected it to provide the enabling technology for Nexi, Bloomberg’s new global communications platform that enables the company’s employees to connect over video with each other and the rest of the world.

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So, I decided to dig a bit deeper into Bloomberg’s decision to use Vidyo and talked with the man responsible for the integration: Jeff Fairbanks, Global Head of AV and Media Technology, Technical Operations at Bloomberg.

I asked Fairbanks if he could describe Bloomberg’s use of video and provide some historical context for why the technology is so important today.

Although Fairbanks joined Bloomberg in 2013, the company has had a video-first culture for decades. Michael Bloomberg became interested in video in 1987 when the technology was in its infancy. The company tried a number of different enabling technologies, including ISDN and microwave antennas on trucks, but found all of them unreliable. Despite the challenges, Bloomberg plowed forward with the vision of ubiquitous video.

After about a decade, the company had a handful of hardware-based systems, but the utilization was low because the end points were difficult to use. The company wanted to expand the use of video and shifted to a desktop solution.

Video was put on desktops in 2008, and utilization took off. It peaked in 2013 when the existing technology reached its limit and productivity became impacted. For example, every day when utilization was high, the system would become overwhelmed and fail. Also, the existing solution had a physical limitation on users, far below the 17,000 employees at Bloomberg.

Fairbanks was hired to find a new solution that could meet the needs of the organization now, as well as into the future. Given the strategic importance of this initiative, Fairbanks was open to looking at any solution that could meet the organization’s needs and not just what the incumbent vendor offered.


How Much Should You Set Aside for Retirement?

Fairbanks looked at every possible solution from every video vendor. In addition to being able to scale to the over 17,000 users, the solution had to meet some other requirements. Bloomberg wanted a solution that was completely customized and offered a unique experience. Also, the solution should allow users to easily change screen layouts, as well as be able to pop content up on another worker’s screen for easier collaboration.

What to choose?

After looking at all of the solutions, Fairbanks had three options:

Continue to use the incumbent vendor and do nothing. This was obviously the least-expensive option because the only cost would be maintaining the system. This wasn’t practical, though, as the solution already had some scale issues and did not allow for any kind of personalization.

Upgrade to the incumbent vendor’s new architecture. This would have met the requirement for the number of users, but it did not provide the ability to pop up content or change layouts on the client.

Change to Vidyo. It was the only solution that met all of Bloomberg’s requirements. Moving to Vidyo and away from the incumbent required an up-front cost, but that did not matter. Bloomberg wanted something that met the company’s requirements, and the Vidyo solution was the only option that did.

Initially Fairbanks discounted Vidyo because the vendor seemed to be closed and proprietary. There was also a perception of risk because Vidyo is smaller than the other solution providers.

A trial run of Vidyo’s solution put Fairbanks’ concerns to rest, however, and he selected it. Some of the benefits it offers:

Integrated collaboration features into Nexi using the VidyoWorks platform. VidyoWorks enables the embedding of point-to-point and multipoint video, audio and content sharing and collaboration into Nexi.
A customized Bloomberg experience instead of being forced to use the vendor’s application.
The ability to scale to all 17,000 employees with no performance degradation. Now, every employee can enjoy the benefits of Nexi.

Also, the solution deployed quickly. The entire process took nine months from contract signing to full deployment across Bloomberg’s 192 offices in 73 countries.

The implementation of Vidyo in Nexi was smooth, and user satisfaction has been high. There haven’t been any performance issues despite the increased volume.


Performance gains

Specifically, Fairbanks provided these data points to illustrate the solution’s performance:

There is now three times the number of video users, but the whole solution uses less bandwidth than before.
Bloomberg now averages more Vidyo calls in a week than the company did in a month with the legacy solution. The company call volume is in the millions in the past six months. Fairbanks said Vidyo was willing to listen to his feedback and liked how the companies partnered on the final solution, which now includes strong security and other infrastructure enhancements.

Vidyo also minimizes the impact on the WAN and can be flexibly deployed in a variety of network topologies, which optimizes the video for quality. It can be deployed in a geographically distributed fashion that allows for localization of traffic to certain regions. By using intelligent cascading technology, inter-region traffic is minimized to a single video call’s worth of bandwidth between regions, reducing the total traffic load on the WAN. This is similar to a CDN but optimized for real-time, low-latency, two-way video communications.

Today, use of Nexi is pervasive across Bloomberg, users are happy and video utilization is at an all-time high. Fairbanks was successful because he did his homework and chose the best solution for his organization instead of making the easy decision of staying with the incumbent.

Mitel buys Polycom for $1.96B in enterprise communications consolidation play

Re-post article by Ingrid Lunden from techcrunch.com

As more enterprises move their communications services over to IP networks and cloud-based services, we’re seeing an increasing amount of consolidation as the businesses that serve them continue to grow to provide end-to-end services — and to shore up against smaller, newer and less expensive offerings from the likes of Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts and more. Today comes that latest move in that sphere: Mitel announced that it would acquire Polycom in a cash-and-stock deal with a total value of $1.96 billion*, creating a company with combined sales of $2.5 billion and 7,700 employees.

Mitel and Polycom have been in negotiations for nearly 10 months, Mitel said, and there was a report earlier this month in Bloomberg hinting that a deal between the two was imminent. They share a common (and recent) investor in the form of Elliott Management Corp., who had been urging the two to combine to compete better with rivals.

Polycom, based out of San Jose, will continue to keep its branding, Mitel said, with the overall company headquartered in Ottawa, in Mitel’s current HQ. Both companies are publicly traded and have been acquirers of smaller companies themselves, but not on the prolific level of some rivals like Cisco. This is only Mitel’s sixth acquisition, according to Crunchbase.

“Mitel has a simple vision – to provide seamless communications and collaboration to customers. To bring that vision to life we are methodically putting the puzzle pieces in place to provide a seamless customer experience across any device and any environment,” said Mitel CEO Rich McBee in a statement. “Polycom is one of the most respected brands in the world and is synonymous with the high quality and innovative conference and video capabilities that are now the norm of everyday collaboration. Together with industry-leading voice communications from Mitel, the combined company will have the talent and technology needed to truly deliver integrated solutions to businesses and service providers across enterprise, mobile and cloud environments.”

Both companies compete against the likes of Cisco and Avaya. Mitel is perhaps best known for its IP telephony solutions, including PBX systems, while Polycom is a leader in conferencing services. They also cover SIP technology, and customers span 82% of Fortune 500 companies.

Polycom’s acquisition by Mitel comes at a key time in the world of enterprise communications and collaboration.

On one hand, it is a time of massive change and evolution. For years a lot of the services that companies used were based on legacy networking, but in the last decade there has been a big shift to IP-based networks for many of these services.

However, at the same time the whole space has been massively disrupted by startups that are upsetting by tapping into the next phase of digital services — the Internet. Companies like Microsoft by way of services like Skype and Yammer, and smaller startups like Slack, are overturning the whole idea of how people who are not in the same office floor can communicate and collaborate for work.

These solutions are way cheaper than a lot of the legacy offerings; they tap into the cloud-based services that are now ubiquitous to share and work on files; and they are also built in very user-friendly ways, based around tech that ordinary consumers are using.

All of this poses big challenges and possible threats for incumbent companies like Mitel — which has been around since 1972, but also opportunities. This is something that companies like Cisco and IBM also realize and are trying to capitalize on with acquisitions and strategic changes.

The deal is one of the bigger in enterprise collaboration and communication collaboration in recent times, but not the only one. In February, Cisco acquired enterprise collaboration startup Acano for $700 million. And IBM’s recent acquisitions of Ustream and Clearleap also give it a stronger position in enterprise conferencing, while Atlassian acquired BlueJimp. Among startup consolidation, Fuze acquired LiveMinutes last year, too.

Mitel was in the news several years ago for filing a patent infringement case against Facebook covering two areas: technology for calling up web pages in text-based communications (which you get if you type in a URL in a message or post), and its Internet telephony services. Facebook retaliated with patent suits of its own, using patents originally owned by AOL (owner of TC). Facebook and Mitel settled out of court in 2013. The Polycom deal will give Mitel a combined portfolio of over 2,100 patents and more than 500 patents pending, Mitel says.

The acquisition — in which Polycom stockholders will get $3.12 in cash and 1.31 Mitel common shares for each share of Polycom common stock, “or $13.68 based on the closing price of a Mitel common share on April 13, 2016” — is a 22% premium to Polycom shareholders based on Mitel’s and Polycom’s “unaffected” share prices as of April 5, 2016, the companies say. It is expected to close in Q3 2016.

Note: the $1.96 billion figure is based on Wednesday’s closing price, whereas some publications are reporting $1.8 billion, based on Thursday’s closing price.

Conferencing News

Apart from the United States, Microsoft now supports PSTN conferencing services in 14 new countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Besides, there is now a possibility to connect the Cloud PBX with your existing carrier circuits using Skype for Business server software. The Skype for Business server software acts as a gateway between your carrier contracts and circuits and Office 365. Microsoft also added to the PSTN Calling service some features like number portability, calling 911, Call Quality Dashboard, and Cloud PBX Voicemail.

Switch Communications announced to have launched its cloud-based phone system for Microsoft Office 365 users. Switch is now available to companies on any productivity suites, as well as offering deep integrations with Both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. Office 365 users will be able to log in with their Microsoft credentials, have their Outlook contacts synced instantly, have their integrated calendar and email so they can see the most recent emails and appointments when on a Switch call, and have instant access to the corporate directory. Switch is available at a price of $ 15 per user per month.

SMART Technologies prepared to a strategic review. The firm has cautioned the markets about the product on which it is placing great emphasis: the SMART kapp product. According to the company, “from SMART kapp sales are growing at a slower rate than originally envisaged, and as a result, the outlook for fiscal 2016 will be weaker than anticipated.” The company also states that this will result in a new operating model in place by calendar year. Besides, SMART Board also has engaged with Evercore Partners as a financial advisor to assist it in a strategic review that could include sale of some assets or recapitalization of the firm.

Dell, along with MSD Partners and Silver Lake, acquired data storage company EMC Corporation (EMC) for $67 billion or about $33.15 a share – in cash and stock. The transaction is the biggest merger ever in the tech industry.

Avaya announced that it has established a new legal entity to drive its operations in China. The move is intended to enhance localization and provide better support for Greater China customers and partners. Avaya (Shanghai) Enterprises Management Co. Ltd, which began operations on October 1, 2015, will function as the hub for Avaya’s Greater China operations. The entity has a number of functions including sales, marketing, services, order processing and manufacturing.

Middle Atlantic Products announced the launch of Hub – an all-in-one furniture solution for collaboration spaces that is designed to maximize equipment storage and cable management. Created for easy integration, Hub can be used for huddle spaces, active learning spaces, and video conferencing applications.

BCS Global subsidiary Video Guidance is expanding its video conferencing services into the Asia Pacific region. CLIQ, a new cloud collaboration company, will adapt Video Guidance’s VG Connect conferencing technology to target clients in the greater Asia Pacific marketplace. CLIQ is a newly launched global provider of cloud-based collaboration services headquartered in Hong Kong’s Cyberport, one of Asia Pacific’s leading ICT / IT hubs. CLIQ will also incorporate Video Guidance’s newly launched VG Connect Portal, which allows service providers to deploy a comprehensive tool to manage multitenant branding, provisioning, reporting, billing and monitoring.

Greener business with video conferencing

Every day new disasters, environmental problems, the greenhouse effect remind us that we should strive to preserve the future. Many businesses decided to be more planet-friendly, to address or benefit the eco-movement directly, and to help minimize the impact of global warming, greenhouse gases and populations more focused on luxury than planetary health.

Everyone — from a single person to international companies — can have an impact on the future of our planet. Fortunately, businesses don’t have to sacrifice efficiency in the name of a greener company. Moreover, they can contribute towards a greener, healthier planet, simultaneously saving time and money.

Greener commute

We are living in the age of the consumer, and companies need to take action to maximize brand loyalty and ensure positive consumer opinion by making their management, production and shipping not only more economical, but also more ecological. Still, in order to benefit from customer opinion, companies need to make sure that greener operations aren’t hurting their bottom line. Video conferencing offers a greener and more eco-friendly solution to the problem of travel and communication. It brings many benefits to companies that are large and spread out or small ones wanting to cut operating costs as much as possible.

Less taxes

Video conferencing can also help businesses to reduce so-called “green taxes” imposed on environmental pollutants that are introduced into the atmosphere through the production or use of a company’s products. In this way governments try to make companies change their products or services to be eco-friendlier. If your company does a lot of traveling for meetings with partners, clients or consumers, video conferencing can help reduce the cost of “green taxes” as well as your travel expenses. The price of fuel and food make physical travel a more expensive solution in comparison to video conferencing; while telephones and emails don’t offer as robust a communication solution as video can. Including into your business strategy a telecommute, even if it’s appropriate only once in a while, you’ll see a drastic reduction in travel expenses and “green taxes”.

A good investment

The environmental impact of physical means of communication, such as cars, jets and trains, is well studied already. All of these industries have emissions parameters that they must keep within, and it’s a well-known fact that their impact on the environment is less than excellent. Choosing video conferencing and integrating telecommuting into your business life is a sound investment specifically because it has a positive impact on the efficiency of your business. Environmental matters aside, cutting down on the time it takes to travel and the expenses, as well as the taxes associated with your relevant industries and all other factors combined, video conferencing brings your company many tangible benefits.

In conclusion

So, whether your company is looking to increase efficiency, lower their carbon footprint or free up some of their travel budget for other projects on the horizon, video conferencing offers a solution.

Medicine: video conferencing multiplies resources and improves service

Telemedicine has already established itself in the US, and it may take off in Italy in 2016.

104 billion dollars are saved annually only in the United States thanks to using video conferencing for medical appointments. In fact, about half of the total routine check-ups or small health problems do not require a physical presence of a doctor. This is the conclusion of a study sponsored by Goldman Sachs, a firm that dedicated itself to reintroduction of the so-called e-health or telemedicine.

More resources to invest

This technology saves enormous amounts of money, which can be reinvested in other branches of the health care industry. Besides, video conferencing allows doctors and patients to avoid transfers, therefore optimizes theirs time. Last but not least, thanks to video conferencing doctors can help people who live far away from the nearest medical centre. In other words, it can improve service and at the same time increase resources available to the health system.

USA: rapid growth of virtual appointments

Let’s go back to the United States. If in 2010 the Americans went to a doctor on average 3.3 times per year, now the frequency of visits increased by 400%, with a total of 1.3 billion per year. Half of them, however, have no need of a face-to-face appointment with their doctors. For this reason, the country has already introduced such services as “Doctor on Demand” and “American Well”, which help patients meet their doctors in videoconference via PC, tablet or smartphone.

Health insurance even for Telemedicine

So, the US has already started saving. Since medical care in America is a paid service, video conferencing means significant savings for patients. A doctor in video conferencing costs 40 Euros compared to 200 Euros for a traditional visit. Even health insurers have noticed the trend, so that the United Healthcare, the largest insuring company in the US, has signed an agreement with three video conferencing providers to cover the costs of medical visits carried out at a distance.

Italy is on the way, forecasts are positive

In Italy the new trend is struggling to make its way. Existing initiatives are too few, although there are experiences both of medical care and of high-level trainings for doctors and health workers. After some past optimistic forecasts, contradicted then by the facts, it looks like the scenario will change in 2016. According to the Netics Observatory, the next year will be the year of takeoff for telemedicine services in Italy, from assistance at home to teleconsultation.

New policy of the National Health System

The decisive push in Italy should come from the new policy of the NHS, which is more and more intent on penalizing inappropriate hospital admissions and delayed hospital discharges. The savings are considerable: a patient admitted to a virtual department – that means assisted by telemedicine – costs the National Health Service from 140 to 260 Euros per day, much less than hospitalization. Moreover, the virtual hospitalization allows to maintain the same quality of the service. So, the development of e-health is different in each country, but the situation in Italy may soon change. Of course, traditional medical visits will never be replaced by virtual ones in cases of diseases when the presence of a doctor is indispensable. But in those cases – and they are many – when doctors can work remotely, the rapid adoption of assistance in videoconference can bring huge private and public savings.

Conferencing News

IP Phone Warehouse, a reseller of video conferencing equipment, now sells the Polycom Real Presence Touch, a touchscreen remote control for compatible Polycom video conferencing solutions: the Polycom Group series, RealPresence Immersive Studio, and RealPresence OTX Studio. The Polycom RealPresence Touch offers a 10-inch touchscreen for interacting with menus, controls, and other functions.

Vaddio announced its latest cameras in the RoboSHOT series: the RoboSHOT 12 HD-SDI and RoboSHOT 30 HD-SDI. Available in 12x and 30x optical zoom ranges, the RoboSHOT HD-SDI is equipped with simultaneous HD-SDI and HDMI digital video outputs, and Full HD IP (H.264) streaming capabilities. The devices are equipped with a built-in PoE+ Gigabit Ethernet port, and have the ability to be powered over the PoE+ network or with a PoE+ midspan power injector. The cameras include a built-in web-server, which allows for configuration and control. By entering a camera’s streaming URL into any standards-based media player, users can watch a full 1080p HD IP stream while controlling the RoboSHOT simultaneously.

Chief, an Audio-Video mounting solutions provider, is bringing Da-Lite ViewShare technology to its line of Fusion display mounts. The new ViewShare Fusion kits include all the video conferencing accessories needed to create a BYOD video conferencing room. Chief’s ViewShare technology is meant to fill the gap between high-end video conferencing systems and personal smart devices and let its customers find ways to “quickly add video conferencing capabilities to huddle spaces and small meeting rooms.” ViewShare kits feature a Fusion-mountable accessory to position an integrated Logitech C930e webcam above, below, or between displays; a Jabra SPEAK 410 MS USB speakerphone; a Belkin-powered USB hub; USB 2.0 connectivity (USB 3.0 ready); and components that are Skype for Business Certified and optimized for Lync and Skype.