More and more enterprises are turning to next-generation innovations to support their daily workflow. Catalyzed by big players such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, these technologies bring promises of better communication, improved access to information, and simpler content sharing from any device to contacts across the planet. However, with the proliferation of interactive tools comes the expectation of enhanced collaboration — ironically a benefit seen as problematic by the business community. Virtual collaboration experiences continue to be substandard as technology snags hinder clear comprehension between participants and support the ease-of-use expectation, damaging the ideal of effective virtual teams. As a result, IT leaders increasingly promote the concept that AV solutions supporting distance collaboration, which require the network, should reside in the IT domain.
Biamp Systems is a leading provider of innovative, networked media systems that power the world’s most sophisticated audio/video installations. The company is recognized worldwide for delivering high-quality products and backing each product with a commitment to exceptional customer service.
The award-winning Biamp® product suite includes the Tesira® media system for digital audio networking, Audia® Digital Audio Platform, Nexia® digital signal processors, Sona™ AEC technology, and Vocia® Networked Public Address and Voice Evacuation System. Each has its own specific feature set that can be customized and integrated in a wide range of applications, including corporate boardrooms, conference centers, performing arts venues, courtrooms, hospitals, transportation hubs, campuses, and multi-building facilities.
Founded in 1976, Biamp is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, USA, with additional engineering operations in Rochester, New York, USA, and Brisbane, Australia. For more information on Biamp, click here.
Trends and Challenges of Virtual Collaboration
Over the past three decades, collaboration has inched its way into the contemporary workplace. In the 1980s, workers were introduced to conference calling while the nineties saw ISDN-based video conferencing systems enter the organizational environment. Since the new millennium, soft codec platforms such as Skype, Lync, and high-end telepresence systems have brought users engaging visual interactions at the click of a mouse. Parallel to these developments has been the standardization of infrastructure, which has seen the emergence of Internet Protocol (IP) as the dominant conduit for voice and video communication — enveloping both the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Consequently, the capabilities of enterprise IT departments have grown to include supporting the organization’s ability to communicate virtually around the world.
While popular platforms such as Facetime, Skype, and Fuze remain incredibly easy for users to adopt, they remain at the mercy of the heavy traffic that can congest organizational networks. For virtual teams, this translates into unreliability, which both impair the experience and weaken the outcome of meetings. Furthermore, gaps between hardware and software capabilities can hamper the authenticity of interactions. For instance, a speakerphone is incapable of truly capturing the voices of multiple participants sitting around a meeting room table, while a static webcam will never effectively capture the facial expressions of on-screen collaborators.
Enter Networked AV
To leverage the opportunities of collaborative technologies, networked AV allows both audio and video to be moved from one device to another using digital signal processors (DSPs). Based on a hierarchy of three layers, the technology operates a first layer of physical data transport, which includes data and wires while a second layer moves data across physical links within the network. A third layer, known as the “network layer” is responsible for routing across Internet protocols. For enterprises, networked AV enables simpler integration for IT departments, allows moving AV traffic natively over Ethernet via the AVB protocol, and allows users to estimate the maximum network bandwidth that will be needed for AV. As a result, organizations can plan for the amount of bandwidth that is needed for ensuring effective voice, video, and data collaborations across their user base. Protection from data surges and the ability to scale resources easily as needed are other inherent advantages.
As virtual collaboration technologies continue to efface the barriers of traditional workflows, enterprises can enable more effective virtual collaboration sessions by marrying AV systems with IT assets — solving issues such as low intelligibility, echoes from other callers, and ambient noise, which can turn users away from using collaborative tools. At the core level, this involves investing in DSP solutions and network facilities such as the installation of compatible switches near large concentrations of meeting rooms. By making sound a top priority, organizations can then ensure that audio quality provides the intelligibility that is needed to create virtual interactions that mimic the authenticity of face-to-face conversations. Finally, organizations should give prime importance to the user experience when designing AV networks. Solutions must not only meet the current demands of the enterprise, but also provide the ability to deliver uninterrupted connectivity and seamless scalability to meet any future collaboration technology.