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Introducing Polycom RealPresence Medialign

We’re not gonna lie: searching for the right video conferencing solution can be a pretty intimidating process. Even seasoned IT vets do some hand-wringing when it comes time to implement a comprehensive room solution. Of course, we’re always here to help you find just the right custom fit for your organization, but Polycom has recently introduced a new all-in-one video conferencing and collaboration solution that simplifies the purchasing and implementation process without sacrificing the innovation and quality we’ve come to expect from Polycom products.
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Topics: Polycom RealPresence Medialign, polycom

Unpacking the Potential of Polycom RealPresence Trio

You probably think the audio conference call is old hat. Multi-party phone calls have been around for decades, so you’re forgiven for thinking you’ve seen--or, in this case, heard--it all. But with Polycom’s RealPresence Trio, audio conferencing has been upgraded to deliver an experience suitable for the smartphone age. RealPresence Trio offers the same crisp and clear audio that Polycom users have come to expect, but there’s more to it than that. With enhanced sharing capabilities and expanded video options, Polycom RealPresence Trio turns a phone call into a heightened realm of collaboration. Here’s what you need to know.

Hear in High Def
Although it comes in a compact package, RealPresence Trio offers the crisp and clear sound that Polycom has pioneered with their immersive room solutions. With Polycom’s enhanced HD Voice technology, you can trust that every subtlety of inflection and nuance of presentation will be clearly conveyed to your audience.

Simplify Connections
With a 5-inch color touch screen and navigation that anyone familiar with a smartphone should be comfortable negotiating, RealPresence Trio keeps training to a minimum so that connection and collaboration can commence immediately. No one will miss a conference call when joining is as simple as a single touch.

Bring Your Own Device
Like Polycom’s RealPresence Group Series, RealPresence Group Series, RealPresence Trio makes it easy to connect your own device via wireless or wired pairing, so you can stick with the virtual environment that works for you while harnessing the power of Polycom’s HD Voice technology.

Eliminate Background Noise
Before any conference call, you should do everything you can to eliminate potential interruptions. Turn off that loud copy machine. Shut down that clanking air conditioning. But you can’t control everything. Maybe an ambulance will scream past the office window. Or a dreaded leaf blower might make its presence known with startling force. With Polycom’s NoiseBlock technology, you can rest assured that unforeseen audio interruptions won’t distract from the matter at hand. NoiseBlock automatically mutes RealPresence Trio when it detects background noise, so you won’t have to scramble to adjust the mics when something profoundly annoying happens on your end.   

Share Content and Be Seen
There are times when an audio connection might not be sufficient to make your point. No matter how clear your voice, sometimes you need the option of a face-to-face engagement or the opportunity to share visual content. With the addition of the RealPresence Trio Visual+ accessory, you can take your call to the next level. This optional device transforms RealPresence Trio into a multimedia collaboration hub: not only can you share content with remote participants, but with the addition of a USB camera, you can see (and be seen by) your audience.  

Find out more about RealPresence Trio here.

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Collaborating With Polycom RealPresence Clariti

Since its unveiling in 2011, Polycom’s RealPresence Platform has been at the leading edge of universal video collaboration, and now, with the introduction of RealPresence Clariti, Polycom is once again revolutionizing the way organizations connect in the virtual realm. Clariti carries over the easy-to-use collaboration solutions customers have come to love in RealPresence, but with flexible pricing structures and increased cloud coverage, not to mention developer tools and streamlined administration tools, Clariti takes Polycom’s video conferencing technology to another level. Here are few exciting features of Polycom’s latest breakthrough.

Scalable Pricing
With RealPresence Clariti, Polycom lets you decide what you need and when you need it. You can choose the number of people or rooms you want to enable, with the ability to add more licenses whenever the need arises. And with a number of implementation options, you need only purchase what the demands of your organization call for. So whether you’re a small upstart or a massive company, Clariti can fit you like a glove.

Cloud Capability
With RealPresence Clariti, intermittent increases in demand will not overburden an infrastructure ill-suited to peak utilization. Now, with Clariti’s “hybrid cloud bursting,” users are transitioned into Polycom’s cloud resources, bolstering insufficient network resources and ensuring smooth and seamless operations. So now organizations won’t have to worry about predicting future demand or risk investing in a solution that won’t be robust enough in a year--as you grow, the cloud will accommodate your expansion.

Expanded Reach
There is almost no one you can’t reach out to with Clariti. With support for up to 75,000 simultaneous devices, everyone in your organization can be plugged in and ready to collaborate, no matter where they are or what device they’re using. But such accessibility isn’t limited to your people. Clariti also makes it easy to connect with customers, vendors and partners around the world. With just one click, anyone you want to bring into the fold can be there in no time.  Administration Made Easy Keeping an eye on network operations is easier than ever with Clariti, which boasts a single application for monitoring and managing all endpoints, as well as providing real time views of your network’s health and status.  Developer Support Along with Clariti, Polycom is introducing its new Polycom Sandbox feature, which offers access to Polycom’s APIs and SDKs for developers who want to build applications. With support tools designed to facilitate information exchange, Polycom Sandbox is giving its customers the ability to integrate visual collaboration into their workflows in ways that accommodate an organization’s unique needs. 

Learn more about Polycom video conferencing solutions here.

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Topics: Polycom Video Conferencing, Polycom RealPresence, Polycom RealPresence Platform, Polycom RealPresence Clariti

Finding The Right Solutions for Your Room

Odds are fairly good that your organization employs various rooms for different kinds of meetings. There aren’t any hard and fast rules dictating which meetings happen where--sometimes it might just come down to a matter of availability--but if you have ample space, it’s a good idea to establish different spaces conducive to different kinds of collaboration and connection. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to figure out how to incorporate video and audio solutions suitable for these specific spaces and the ways ideas circulate in them. Below are some suggestions for getting the most out of huddle rooms, meeting rooms and boardrooms.

The Huddle Room
Huddle rooms provide an intimate and less formal setting for small groups (we’re talking five or six people, tops) to get together for brainstorming sessions and impromptu meetings. Huddle rooms are small, so a fairly unobtrusive multi-function device is the way to go here. Something like Polycom Group Convene, which works together with the RealPresence Group Series, is a great solution for a smaller room that you’ll want to keep streamlined and clutter-free, but without sacrificing video and content-sharing capabilities. Don’t break the bank adding bells and whistles to a huddle room--this is the kind of space where ideas should run no risk of being overpowered by technology.

The Meeting Room
This is where the majority of your everday videoconferencing business will be conducted, and since you’re likely to pack the room with people on a regular basis, you’ll want a versatile array of audio and video solutions suitable for any kind of call or collaboration session. This means at least one high-quality camera with pan, tilt and zoom functions; multiple microphones; at least two HD video displays; and support for wireless presentation and content-sharing. Avaya’s Scopia XT Telepresence Platform is a great place to start for video-based communication and collaboration. With two simultaneous video channels, H.239 data collaboration, a digital microphone with CD-quality audio, and multi-touch control, this solution provides a solid foundation for A/V-assisted collaboration.

The Boardroom
The boardroom should be treated like a theater or auditorium. This is the place for high level conferences, important presentations and recorded announcements. A little razzle dazzle is called for. Consider Cisco's TelePresence TX9000 Series, which boasts three 65-inch screens and a three-camera set-up that will give your viewers a great view of the entire room. Your needs don’t end with top notch technology, though. Unlike huddle rooms and meeting rooms, which don’t require much in the way of furnishings, the boardroom should be carefully designed to convey the personality of your company. Consider furnishings and artwork that project a sense of order, authority and warmth. You don’t want to go so big and bold that you look forbiddingly powerful, but don’t go so casual that your viewers think you run your company out of a dorm room.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any room, so take control over the process of outfitting your rooms and start designing yours today. 
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Why You Need Huddle Rooms

You’ll always need a conference room for larger meetings and more formal gatherings, but the huddle room is on the rise in the business world. A small space intended for intimate and informal collaboration sessions and meetings, the huddle room is the ideal place to bring a brainstorming session to the next level or to find some peace and quiet for some heavy problem-solving. Here are six great reasons to consider adding one of these versatile, streamlined spaces to your floorplan. 

Cut Costs

A huddle room should be furnished with a table and chairs and equipped with a basic video conferencing solution with sharing capabilities. So yes, a huddle room is an investment, but the modest size of the room (and the informal nature of the work that will be done in it) means you won’t have to break the bank outfitting it with world class speaker arrays or multi-screen video banks. Keeping it simple means keeping costs down.

Increase Flexibility

A workplace with multiple huddle rooms gives employees a distinct advantage: with collaborative, connected spaces on hand whenever the need arises, team members can quickly cohere into a brainstorming superpower. An uncluttered huddle room equipped with a table, chairs and simple display technology is an ideal location for employees to gather and hash out a new idea or connect with remote colleagues at a moment’s notice.

Welcome Your Remote Workers

Employees who spend most of their time working remotely probably won’t have their own dedicated workspace at the office. That would be an incredible waste of resources. But remote workers should have a place to work when they do visit the office. A comfortable, inviting and adaptable space--so no broom closets or basements, okay? Huddle rooms work great as a temporary staging ground for workers who aren’t often in the office.

Get Away From the Open Workspace

Many businesses are opting for open-plan workspace designs, which is all well and good, but this sort of arrangement makes it difficult to have a private or more intimate exchange. Who knows what will come up. Maybe you need to record a conversation and can’t have any background noise. Or maybe you need to make a personal call. Whatever the case may be, a huddle room provides a temporary refuge from the bustle of an open office.

Free Up the Conference Room

Without huddle rooms, smaller groups often convene in conference rooms, which isn’t the most efficient use of space. And an overbooked conference room can create scheduling headaches and logistical complications. Keep your worlds separate: let small groups use the huddle rooms and keep the conference room free for larger and/or more formal gatherings.

Increase Productivity With Intimacy

Big meetings can give participants far too many opportunities to disengage. A manager’s interminable speech, an incessant barrage of barely germane digressions, crosstalking colleagues picking at a technicality--such dispiriting conference fouls are very good excuses for bored employees to let their minds drift to more pleasant and far less productive thoughts. The intimacy engendered by a huddle room keeps everyone present, and with that presence comes expectation: that everyone will stick to the task at hand, that everyone will be heard, that everyone will be listen.

Use our Advanced Search  to explore a range of video conferencing solutions for huddle rooms like the Polycom Realpresence Centro and beyond.

 

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Use Video For A Better Call Center

The call center is too often the place where commerce collapses into a mess of frustration, miscommunication and outright hostility. We’ve all been there--most of us at the consumer end. You know the drill: an interminable wait, during which you are subjected to tinny music you’d pay NOT to hear; a torturous conversation with a representative who doesn’t seem all that invested in helping you or even all that knowledgeable about the company he or she works for; a transfer to someone who might know more than the aforementioned representative; yet another interminable wait accompanied by still more atrocious music; and then another long exchange that might, if you are lucky, finally end with your questions answered.

Not every experience with a call center abides this infernal pattern, but it happens often enough that most would agree the system is broken, or at the very least in need of some improvement. While there may never be a way around grating hold music (sorry!), there is a way to improve the interpersonal aspects of the call center experience: using video chat and videoconferencing solutions that offer opportunities for face-to-face communication.

Of course, seeing a call center representative won’t make them any more knowledgeable, but much of what is perceived as a lack of insight is in fact more often a result of the vague and easily dismissible nature of a telephone conversation. In other words: it is a lot harder for a customer to accurately explain his or her issue with words alone, and it is a lot easier for a call center employee to treat the customer as an abstract nuisance if they are only hearing a voice.

Just imagine if every cable company had a video chat option. Customers could SHOW them the back of their cable box instead of attempting to explain what they’re seeing with their untrained eyes. Or imagine a credit card company that offered the option of video chats with their collections department. Customers might actually feel like they are being treated with respect by a living, breathing human instead of being hunted down by a menacing voice hiding in some dark, dirty bunker in the middle of the desert.

There will always be people who would rather make voice-only connections with strangers, which is perfectly understandable. There is an aspect of intimacy in a video chat, and not everyone wants to be on such friendly terms with some dude from their internet provider. But with videoconferencing and video chat technology making their way into more and more of our daily interactions, the desire for such interventions will only increase. And with good reason: intimacy can be profoundly transformative, even at the level of a call center interaction. Eye contact and body language can shift the adversarial nature of a complaint call or the vaguely threatening vibe of a collections call into a conversation between two humans who might actually end up not only understanding each other but wanting to continue doing business together.

Take a look at the Polycom RealPresence Platform for your call center.  

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BYOD Is Good For Everyone

More and more companies are turning to such web collaboration solutions as Prime Call Cloud MeetMe, which puts anyone with a mobile device just a click away from the sort of top notch video collaboration that used to exist only in the conference room. To take full advantage of this new flexibility and mobility, however, it is imperative that employees have access to mobile technology with which they are familiar and comfortable. Of course, you could provide tablets and phones to your employees, but why bother? The vast majority of people already own such devices. They know how to use them. They want to use them. And a service like Prime Call Cloud MeetMe is compatible with pretty much any mobile device. So institute a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and enjoy the following benefits.

Save Time and Money
Letting employees use their own devices obviates the need for a costly investment in the latest technology. The cost of keeping tech up to date is transferred to the employee. You probably won’t be able to update your devices on a regular basis, but your employees likely will. So your staff will have access to the latest and greatest features and capabilities, at no cost to you. And your employees will already know the ins and outs of their own phones or devices, so there won’t be any need for training. They’ll be ready to go immediately. 

Make Your Employees Happy
For better or worse, our devices are our constant companions. It might not be healthy to feel so attached to a little machine, but that’s just the way it is. People want to be with their phones. It’s how they engage with the parts of the world that matter most to them. Employers would be wise to keep this minor human frailty in mind. A happy employee will do better work. 

Give IT a Break
People might not know much about what happens under the hood of their work-issued devices, but the amount of time spent on a personal device has rendered pretty much everyone an expert on issues that might arise with their own phone or tablet. Letting people work on devices with which they are already familiar will cut down considerably on the time IT spends troubleshooting device issues. And then IT can focus on the big picture stuff that only they can (and should) handle.

Increase Productivity
A plumber will do a better job with pipe cutters she is familiar with. A painter will paint a better picture with his own brushes. A mechanic will get a car fixed faster in a garage he’s organized himself. An office worker is no different--with tools that work for them, they will do better work for you. 

Stay Connected
A BYOD policy might bring some some of your employees’ personal lives into the workplace, which might not sit well with you, but consider this: work will be going home with them on that same device. Which means they will be more accessible after business hours, as well as more amenable to working from home, if need be. This is a good thing for you and your company. 

Find out more about Prime Call Cloud MeetMe here.

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Audio Conferencing Tips

Audio conferencing might seem way more simple and straightforward than video conferencing, but there are still quite a few potential pitfalls hiding in the all-audio realm. In fact, there are ways in which an audio conference can be an even more delicate situation than a video meet-up. So how about a little refresher course in audio etiquette?

Don’t Be Late
This is the golden rule for every gathering, no matter the technology mediating it. But a late arrival can be especially jarring in an audio conference. There’s just something unsettling about a new voice suddenly appearing in a conversation that’s already well underway. Don’t be that guy who waltzes into the conference fifteen minutes late and needs to be brought up to speed on stuff that was already covered. You’d be embarrassed to do this in person. You should be just as embarrassed to do this over the phone.

Kill the Noise
Audio quality is certainly important in a video conference, but sound hiccups can be partially compensated for by visuals--moving mouths, shared content, body language--that do a good deal of the talking. You’re going to live and die by sound quality in an audio conference, so you should be extra vigilant while doing your pre-conference sweep of distracting ambient noise. Turn off your fans, copy machines, radios. Make sure your cell phone is set to silent. Put your dog in the yard for a while. Tell the kids to keep it down. Errant sounds are disruptive in video conferences, but like the late guy mentioned above, they are especially annoying when they come out of nowhere without a visual referent. 

Elect a Moderator
Crosstalk is a serious problem in audio conferences. Without visual cues, it’s way too easy to step on someone else’s words, thereby creating a mess of indecipherable sound. A designated moderator can eliminate such awkwardness by making sure people get added to the conversation one person at a time. The moderator should also have an agenda on hand to keep the call from straying too far from the key talking points. 

Announce Yourself
Everyone present should identify themselves at the beginning of an audio conference, but during conferences of more than a few people, attendees should also state their names every time they speak. It’s otherwise pretty impossible to tell who is saying what. It might feel a little strange, but everyone should know who is speaking when. 

The Mute Button Is Your Friend
If you’re not speaking, better to be safe than sorry: mute your line. This will eliminate the possibility of any stray sound finding its way into the conference. And then you can cough freely. Or yell at your dog. Do what you will! You’re on mute! 

Integrate Visuals
Yes, it’s an audio conference, but you can still incorporate visuals for purposes of clarity. Or, at the very least, to keep everyone’s attention. You can do this by sharing content via something like Prime Call Cloud MeetMe. Or you can send a preliminary email with a printable agenda and essential documents.   

Explore our range of audio conferencing solutions here.

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Advantages of Cloud Video Conferencing

While there are certainly advantages to keeping video conferencing infrastructure on-premise, more and more organizations are opting for cloud-based solutions. Organizations dealing with highly sensitive material--medical and government institutions, for example--might want to stick with an on-premise solution to guarantee the security of their information, but for many companies, videoconferencing in the cloud can increase flexibility and simplify connectivity without sacrificing the perks of an on-premise array.

If you’re not sure if the cloud is right for you, consider the following benefits.

Cost
A cloud-based video conferencing solution eliminates the need to invest in costly infrastructure. For smaller companies working with a limited budget, a solution like Prime Call Cloud MeetMe delivers the benefits of video connectivity without the burdensome financial sacrifice. Sure, all that fancy gear makes a conference room look nifty, but not everyone can afford such expensive furniture.

Simplicity
The whole point of integrating video into your company’s routine is increasing connectivity and collaboration, but not everyone is an A/V expert, and managing an on-premises video system isn’t always simple. A cloud-based solution pares down the process of connecting to a few simple clicks that anyone with minimal internet experience should be able to handle.

Accommodating Growth and Expansion
It’s not only smaller companies who can benefit from a more affordable cloud-based alternative to on-premises videoconferencing hardware. Larger companies in a growth phase can bring new office locations into the loop immediately with a cloud solution, which drastically cuts the delays inherent in installation and configuration.

Scalability
Maybe your business peaks in predictable seasonal patterns. Or maybe you just don’t know how heavy your videoconferencing demands are going to be. If you’re bandwidth demands are inconsistent or uncertain, cloud-based solutions can allow you to expand or contract as needed. Why pay for something you’re not using?

Minimizing Risk
The rate at which technology changes and improves is, in many ways, a pretty wonderful thing, but for companies that invest thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art infrastructure, it can be incredibly daunting to face the prospect of paying for equipment that might or might not survive the ensuing years of technological upheaval. Cloud-computing lifts the burden of such fortune-telling and puts the weight where it should be: on the shoulders of experts managing your conferencing subscription.

Mobility
Connecting with your traveling employees and telecommuting team members can be logistically bumpy, but with a cloud-based service, all end points--desktop PCs, tablets, phones, home office computers--are united, and with a simple interface that any employee can feel comfortable with, no matter where they are.

Click here to take a look at our Prime Call Cloud MeetMe and other cloud video solutions.

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Video Conferencing For Better Healthcare

 Accessing quality healthcare can be a nightmarish ordeal of bureaucratic wrangling, long distance drives, interminable delays, packed waiting rooms, rushed care and outrageous bills. But things don’t have to be that way. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for this incredibly complex problem, but with the help of video conferencing solutions, healthcare providers are finding new ways to provide reliable and timely care to the people who need it.

Going to a doctor can sometimes feel like traveling back in time--the instant access and virtual mobility we enjoy in everyday life seems to vanish when we cross the threshold into the world of medicine. Seeing a primary care physician is relatively straightforward, but what if you need to see a specialist? That could be another endless wait or another long drive, and for folks in rural areas, we could be talking hours of additional travel. And for people who are seriously ill, such physical mobility isn’t even an option.

But a medical facility equipped with video conferencing technology can put patients in touch with outside providers immediately. With a solution like Cisco’s TelePresence service, for instance, a far-flung expert can be brought into the room in high definition video and audio with just a few clicks. No driving. No waiting. No unbearable anticipation or worry. The people who can help are already there, loud and clear.

The peace of mind this affords a patient is immeasurable. By bypassing time-consuming and potentially traumatic transfers, patients are often able to stay close to home, in a familiar environment near friends and family.

And for some people, a visit to the doctor isn’t even necessary. Healthcare providers who use video conferencing technology to meet with patients can dramatically reduce primary care visits. According to a recent study, there are approximately 600 million annual primary care visits in North America, half of them for health problems that could be addressed without an actual office visit. So with a videoconferencing solution like Lifesize Icon Flex, which is interoperable with such applications as Skype and Lync, doctors and nurses can make house calls to patients to quickly assess the situation and, in many cases, eliminate the need for an in-person appointment.

It’s not only patients who benefit from telemedicine solutions, though. The healthcare field is one of constant change, and it is essential for providers to keep up to speed with the latest developments in the industry. This continuing education, which often involves a good deal of traveling, can now be accomplished via video--a doctor can stream a live surgery, for instance, or an entire hospital staff can join a seminar from the comfort of a conference room. Doctors can keep abreast of developments in their field, and they don’t need to sacrifice vital time that could be better spent with patients. It’s a win-win situation.

Click here to explore our selection of video conferencing and telemedicine solutions.

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Topics: lifesize cloud, Meeting Recordings, recording and streaming, polycom media suite

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