AVI-SPL’s Symphony platform has been the backbone of a number of collaboration deployments over the past several years. With its latest release, Symphony 5.0, the potential for deployments is expanding exponentially, allowing the platform to evolve from just collaboration settings to any and all connected environments.
The main enhancements for Symphony 5.0 build on the strengths of the platform:
– Automation and Workflow – a standards-based business process engine enables simple and complex workflows to be ingested and actioned within Symphony
– UX Enhancements – a redesigned meeting monitoring view and new capabilities to make the activities of monitoring simple and easy
– Mobile App – coming in 2020, a meeting participant or Symphony operator can use the app to control devices in the meeting, look at schedules, monitor devices, look at tickets, and more
– Meeting Ratings – a new feature allows meeting participants to rate meetings
– On-Prem – to meet the rise in dedicated PCs and tablets in meeting rooms
– Reports and Analytics – both on-prem and cloud customers can leverage the redesigned reports – Catalog and Marketplace Features – users can access the device catalog and know what communications are available, the version history, and look at models active within their account
Those are the improved features in a nutshell, but in order to fully visualize what Symphony 5.0 can do, it helps to think of real-world applications.
Symphony 5.0 in Practice
“Symphony at its core is a user experience management platform,” says Laurie Berg, director, Symphony market development, AVI-SPL.
“It simplifies user engagement, improves meeting success, and enables business outcomes. We do all of this by having an integrated end-to-end collaboration workflow – whether that be scheduling a meeting via Outlook that Symphony will then launch, to actioning tickets proactively, generated by Symphony.”
Symphony 5.0 acts as the backbone of meeting and collaboration environments. Any device that can connect to the network can connect to Symphony. Many of these devices can be identified specifically, aided by the new catalog marketplace that allows users to search through devices to learn what functions and features work within the Symphony environment.
Start in the room. Symphony has multiple options including shared cloud, dedicated cloud, and physical deployment. Symphony gathers data, boots remotely, and is platform specific. This allows organizations to rapidly deploy Symphony at scale.
“We see the audience of Symphony in two ways,” says Berg. “It’s the Symphony operator, the technical resource that engages with Symphony, and the meeting participant, who benefits from the capabilities of Symphony.”
When a Symphony operator logs in, they’ll see the dashboard. This offers a quick glance into what’s happening with meetings, rooms, devices, and tickets.
Operators can edit the settings to view this information how they like best – list view, map view, totals, individual devices, etc.
Then you can click in to look directly at devices, rooms, or tickets, in order to learn more. The user experience is customizable to only show information that the operator needs to see.
On the left-hand side the operator finds the tabs that are the functionality of what Symphony does. Operators can look at meetings, devices, analytics, and reports.
They can also set alarms for alerts and tickets that will let the operator know everything that has had a problem in order to quickly remedy these problems.
A global configuration tab is built around what your deployment includes, allows operators to set up user roles, and shows monitoring, scheduling, recordings, messaging, workflows, and more.
When clicking on an individual meeting, room, or device, you’ll find static information as well as dynamic information. Operators will see the invitation to the meeting, the meeting ID number, devices within the meeting, and more.
Symphony 5.0 has redesigned this space to show devices in the room, with color-codes to quickly show which devices are on, which are off, and which are having problems.
Operators can moderate each device individually – remotely muting/unmuting, turning video on or off, hanging up rooms/individuals, and view information on sending and receiving for each, and release rooms that were booked but didn’t actually get used at that time.
Finally, operators can “star” specific rooms or devices to ensure that they are top of list.
When viewing reports, operators can view tickets as far back as they would like.
Warrantee and service contract expiration dates can be built into these reports, so tickets are automatically created before they expire.
Operators can build reports that only show specific data points. This enables the user to create dynamic report dashboards for themselves and other users, and save those dashboards to ensure they’re always available. This is fully customizable, with date ranges, locations, and all the data on screen able to be organized how the user sees fit.
Finally, the operator can build workflows for specific environments. The standards-based business process engine uses normal language and a drag and drop interface to make this simple even for laymen users.
The workflows bring simple steps that users can do in Symphony and makes them a one-button process.
For example, in a meeting room a workflow could be set up that adjusts the shades, turns on displays, connects personal devices to those displays, records the session, brings the audio to a certain level – so on and so forth – with the click of one button.
As for users, Symphony 5.0 shows them the front end of all of this back-end work done by the operator. Users will enter a room, click a workflow button, and those steps will happen automatically.
The soon-to-come mobile app allows users to control and automate in-room devices using their own smartphone. This app will also show them meeting schedules, and any other information assigned to their user account. For operators, the mobile app shows them a different screen with much of the information described above.
Symphony 5.0 provides a wholistic experience within meeting rooms.
Device management and monitoring, data and analytics from that information, specific workflows to automate different environments, specific user reports, ticket generation automation, and more – all to ensure that meeting are running properly and users are happy with their experience.
Symphony 5.0 Beyond the Meeting Room
Four years ago, I spoke with Frank Mehr, SVP, research and development, AVI-SPL, about Symphony. At the time, the platform was focused specifically on the meeting room.
While that remains a major focus, back then Frank and I discussed the future potential of Symphony to be the backbone of full-on IoT deployments.
When asked, Mehr believes that Symphony 5.0 has reached that potential.
“We have customers who do not use Symphony for meetings at all. They’re using it for monitoring IoT, PCs, digital signage, etc,” says Mehr.
“Conferencing is the heritage, but it is not all there is. The whole idea now, with Marketplace, is that we’ve completely opened up all of the access and development platform.”
If you have a different scheduling system or ticketing system, use that. If you have a device that you don’t want to give the APIs to us, you can write to our device adapter libraries.
The platform now works with over 1,000 devices, with conferencing devices being a small portion. This includes networking devices, where IT teams are using Symphony for visibility into their network gear.
They can see packet loss in a port, and turn that on and off remotely for simpler diagnostics.
“We don’t want to compete with network management systems,” says Mehr. “We want to be involved with all of the devices on the network.”
Currently, Symphony customers are utilizing the platform on manufacturing floors, in IT spaces, in retail environments, and, of course, in meeting rooms. All of this to say that while Symphony was created for the AV industry, Symphony 5.0 has evolved to be able to include any kind of networked device.
This has huge potential for digital transformation, allowing smart buildings to be managed by a single platform.
Symphony 5.0 is available through AVI-SPL. If you’d like to learn more about the platform, AVI-SPL has an upcoming webinar explaining improvements and the platform as a whole.