IT Buyer’s Guide to Video Conferencing

Regardless of your company's size, if its like most businesses, your workforce has become more geographically disparate than ever. And while your team may not all share the same office, or is comprised of road warriors or remote workers, you all still have to meet on occasion. But how can your company avoid eating travel costs to get members together for something as large as an annual strategy meeting or as simple as a weekly check in?

In the not so distant past, video conferencing was something on most companies' wish lists, but not anymore. "Video conferencing has finally taken its rightful place as a core business tool", reports Wainhouse. "Companies around the world are depending on video enabled meetings to empower their people, serve their clients better and compete on a global basis."

And as previous problems surrounding video have faded, new opportunities have opened and the high barrier to entry has been removed. There's no doubt that video conferencing has become an essential key to collaboration for modern workplaces, but of course, there are dramatically different strategies and approaches on which solutions meet the needs of the workforce.

To better understand these strategies, PGi has created a Video Conferencing Buyer's Guide. Download the guide now to learn more about what to look for when purchasing a video conferencing solution for your company.

What is a Video Room Connector (VRC)?

Companies can often invest a lot of money in video room systems. And while these room-based systems are powerful, they often require IT involvement and restrict the ability to connect users who aren’t psychically in the room when video conferencing. Because of this, these costly investments can be grossly underutilized.

But there is a solution to overcome these barriers and connect participants who may be working remote. A video room connector (VRC) enables H.323 or SIP video room systems to communicate with desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

With a video room connector tool, like iMeet® VRC, you’ll not only enhance your video conferencing system and improve your return on that investment, but you’ll have the ability to incorporate a whole set of collaboration tools that will improve your next meeting’s productivity as well. Check out the features of iMeet® VRC that will provide you with an easy-to-use solution:

Seamless integration: You don’t have to worry about which room-based video system provider you have, because iMeet® VRC works with the most popular video conferencing systems in the industry including Polycom, Cisco, Lifesize and more You’ll be able to seamlessly integrate more robust collaboration features into your next video meeting for everyone to use, regardless of where they’re meeting from, and get the most out of your existing video investment.

Easy to Connect: Ready to join your next video conference? With iMeet® VRC, there’s no need to reach out to IT for help establishing the connection. You’ll be able to connect to iMeet from your room-based video conferencing system in a few simple steps through SIP or H.323 protocols.

Enhanced Audio: Even the best video systems aren’t going to be successful if you don’t have the audio capabilities to hear everyone loud and clear. Because iMeet is built on PGi’s global hybrid network, you’ll receive crystal-clear HD audio with every call you make with your VRC.

Improved Collaboration: The whole point of a meeting is to collaborate, right? Well, if you’re not utilizing a VRC with your fix-based system, then potential key-players may be missing out on joining your meeting due to connectivity restrictions.

iMeet® VRC connects the people in the video conference room with remote teammates joining through laptops or mobile devices.

So no matter where you are, or what device you’re using, you’ll be able to collaborate in real time through iMeet’s video, audio and web conferencing features.

Through a robust video room connector like iMeet® VRC, your team will no longer have to choose between the latest collaboration solution and utilizing your video conference room systems.

They’ll be able to meet and collaborate without restrictions or the help of your IT team.

Ready to upgrade your room-based system for better video, audio and web conferencing experiences? Request a free demo now of iMeet® VRC, from our experts at PGi.

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5 Signs It’s Time for a New Online Meeting Solution

Why did you choose your online meeting solution? Think about it.

If the response that comes to mind is because it’s what you’ve always used, isn’t it time you reconsidered the true value it brings your business?

If you were a first-time buyer, you may have purchased what was most affordable, familiar or free. But once your businesses surpassed its original needs, that “starter software” became hand-me-down technology that solved less and less of the new challenges you now face.

Here are five signs it’s time for a new online meeting solution that’s better suited to your collaboration needs:

  1. Your technology is behind the times. Today’s online meeting solutions offer the best of audio, web and video conferencing features, all rolled into one convenient service. Online meetings take place in HD video, you can store and access files from anywhere and downloads are a thing of the past. If your current solution hasn’t caught up with the times, that’s a sure sign you need to look for a new one.
  2. Your online meeting solution hasn’t grown with you. The first technology you choose isn’t always still the best option once you’ve grown your customer base, expanded your operations or acquired new businesses. Your meetings may have grown from five to 125 people in a conference room from around the world, and your business needs and challenges probably changed, as well. Now it may be time to discover technology that grows your company, not just cuts costs.
  3. Every department uses a different online meeting solution. The more you can adopt your technology to a variety of functions, the more you’ll increase ROI and enhance cross-functional collaboration. Modern solutions now offer customizable features to match different workflows and integrate with existing applications.
  4. Everyone still hates online meetings. Meetings are supposed to help you collaborate quickly and effortlessly from wherever you are, but if your employees or clients still complain, it’s time to reevaluate your technology. Overly complicated features, an inconsistent mobile experience, high bandwidth requirements and unreliable audio ultimately result in poor user adoption and wasted meeting time.
  5. You consider your provider a vendor, not a partner. The best online meeting solutions offer 24/7 customer service and in-call support and work with you to accommodate your unique collaboration needs. If your technology provider is more of an operations facilitator than a partner in innovation, look at other options that will provide better business insights and collaboration expertise.

Did you identify any of these signs at your business? Then use these resources to get started searching for a new online meeting solution:

How Do I Enhance My Video Conferencing Room?

Business meetings once centered on conference rooms, from in-person introductions to video conferencing with branch offices around the world. Because business collaboration has evolved beyond the limits of space, video conferencing technology that is dedicated to conference rooms no longer fully supports the demands of the modern workforce. Collaboration now happens right from workers’ desks, on tablets and smartphones and on the go.

But those expensive business investments don’t have to go to waste. With a video room connector, businesses can seamlessly integrate more mobile, user-friendly and robust video conferencing solutions into their existing video room investments. Easy setup and seamless integration with popular video room systems and endpoints minimizes any additional investments of time and resources getting started.

Why Do I Need a Video Room Connector?
If your video conferencing room rarely gets used or is a constant source of bad meetings, it’s time to connect your technology to a better solution for better meetings. Here’s how a video room connector can solve your video conferencing room woes:

  • More Mobility: A video room that inhibits mobile workers from joining your meetings isn’t going to cut it anymore. Teleworkers are now the norm, and your remote and on-the-road employees need video conferencing to stay connected and engaged with the rest of the company. Integrating a video conferencing solution accessible from any device ensures your meetings never miss an important source of knowledge and creativity outside the office.
  • A Better User Experience: The latest video conferencing solutions make it easier than ever to join online meetings and navigate the technology, maximizing meeting time. If you want to reduce late starts and eliminate awkward pauses during meetings, connect your video room to a better way to meet.
  • Robust Functionality: Video conferencing solutions no longer limit your options to collaborate via video only. All-in-one audio, web and video conferencing features allow you to collaborate on a conference call, share content on a web conference or schedule a virtual meeting outside the conference room.
  • Crystal-Clear Audio: Not every video conferencing provider specializes in both technology and telephony, but with a video room connector, you can upgrade the quality and reliability of your audio using a conferencing provider that’s known for their industry-leading, global, hybrid audio network.

Drive higher adoption of your technology by giving employees universal access to a single video conferencing solution for all of your company’s collaborative needs. Experience real-time collaboration with iMeet® VRC (Video Room Connector).

Request a live demo today to see how connecting your video room to iMeet will better connect your company.

How Do I Schedule Meetings Across Different Time Zones?

As a part of a corporate network, you understand the importance of meetings. If your team members or clients are all within your local area, then finding a meeting time that suits everyone’s schedule shouldn’t be too difficult. But if you’re working for a business that often deals with international clients or has offices spread all over the United States, then finding a meeting time that suits everyone’s schedule can quickly become difficult.

To take the pain out of scheduling your next meeting, take a look at some best practices for ensuring all of your participant’s schedules are considered, regardless of their location:

Meetings across the U.S.:
If your team is working remotely across the U.S. or if you have clients spread across the states, you could be working with up to four major time zones: Eastern (EST), Central (CST), Mountain (MST) and Pacific (PST). Instead of spending time memorizing what states are in each time zones, we’ve got an easy solution to making a meeting time work for everyone in each of these time zones.

Typically, 2:00 pm EST is the perfect time for meeting with peers or clients in each of these time zones. This time allows for those working in the most western time zone (PST) to have time to arrive to work and prepare the meeting, while preventing the East Coasters from having to stay too late. Of course, if there is a conflict for someone during this time then give participants options an hour or two before or after the original time suggested.

Meetings across the Globe:
Scheduling meetings internationally is where things start to really get tricky because of the multitude of time zones you could be dealing with. Though there is not really a “perfect” time suggestion we can make for international meetings, there is a great tool you can use to help find a suitable time to meet. World Time Buddy is a website that deems itself as a “cross between a time zone converter, a world clock converter, and an online meeting scheduler.”

The tool, also available as an app, features a time table in which you can add your location and the locations of those you are meeting with, allowing you to see the times that are most appropriate for everyone. Once you have selected the best time, the tool can sync up and create a meeting invite on Outlook, iCalendar and Google Calendar.

There are plenty of scheduling tools out there to take the pain out of arranging those meetings across various time zones. Make scheduling and keeping track of your meetings easier with PGi’s Agenday® app, available for free on iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon app store.

Want to learn more about scheduling meetings? Check out The Best and Worst Times for Meetings.

What Are Video Managed Services?

Are you aware you can completely outsource your video conferencing management? Video managed services provide your company with a team of video experts that handle your entire video conferencing environment.

The success of video events hinges on the execution of each part of the complex video conferencing process. Leveraging video managed services, you better ensure that nothing goes wrong, and you get the most value out of your video conferencing solutions.

Providers’ portfolios of video services range from routine maintenance and support to white-glove service and customized solutions. Depending on the provider, deployment, management and support, services may include:

  • Professional consulting services, such as system recommendations, operations planning and user training.
  • Concierge services that add professionalism to events and pre-testing to resolve issues before your call launches.
  • An expert help desk that offers technical video management, remote solution monitoring to catch costly errors before they happen, and end-to-end ticket resolution.
  • Customized video managed solutions like easy UC integration or even on-site staffing to support your company’s unique infrastructure and goals.

Emerging Challenges in Video Management

User-friendly, intuitive video conferencing options are available, but if your company or IT team identifies with the following scenarios, you many need to consider using video managed services:

  • Are your IT resources strained? Managing and resolving video conferencing issues may consume a large percentage of your IT team’s limited time and resources, especially if your company engages in large-scale or high-volume video events. Instead, you could refocus your IT resources by leveraging external video managed services.
  • Does your company have considerable mobile users? Incorporating mobility into your video conferencing strategy requires additional considerations. How will you optimize the mobile experience? How will you support remote users and boost adoption? How will you add security (especially if you support BYOD)? Even if you’re only in the beginning phases of allowing telecommuting or BYOD, you may still need a video services provider to help you embed flexibility in your strategy and future-proof your video solutions.
  • Do you manage multiple video solutions? Global companies with multiple video collaboration solutions encounter problems with standardization. Video managed services experts help you consolidate solutions with a single vendor so you can enjoy cost savings and a single point of contact, without interrupting business operations.
  • Do you need to bridge video solutions? Your company may need to incorporate web or mobile participants into video rooms, as well as customers and partners. Video managed services experts help you make the process seamless and simple and also offer access to the latest video technology to avoid additional investments.

PGi offers more in-depth video managed services, flexibility and expertise to serve your needs, and because PGi video professionals focus more on the end user, you can expect a superior user experience.

Contact a video managed services expert at PGi today to learn more about how video managed services will help you make video a critical communications tool to improve productivity, make faster decisions and grow your business.

What Is Video Conferencing?

To meet and collaborate across a distance right from a desktop, many businesses turn to video conferencing technology. Transferring audiovisual data through your computer’s microphone, webcam, speakers and monitor, it replicates the face-to-face meeting experience.

Essentially, it’s just like calling a friend on the phone, except with video conferencing you can see them, not just hear them.

Video conferencing, also spelled videoconferencing by IT experts, is most commonly performed via the Internet on a personal device like your computer, tablet or smartphone. Although it can also be conducted with a room-based video system, the lack of hardware costs and ability to leverage users’ existing devices makes cloud-based video conferencing more appealing and prevalent among companies of all sizes.

In fact, this virtual meeting room is increasingly replacing the physical conference room, making point-to-point contact between individuals or multipoint contact between groups easier than ever.

How Video Conferencing Differs From Web Conferencing
Video conferencing and web conferencing are often used interchangeably, but here’s where they’re different: video conferencing primarily focuses on people, not content.

As collaboration tools evolve to meet market demands and adapt to changing workflows, both video conferencing and web conferencing tools incorporate features from the other. Though from the beginning, video conferencing’s primary feature was video streams, while web conferencing’s was file sharing and annotation.

However, both share the same benefits: instant sharing and feedback, a global reach across time zones, convenience for busy schedules and mobile workers and no travel required. Plus, the benefit of better relationship building benefits live meetings, training, interviews and more.

Changes on the Horizon in Video Conferencing
In addition to the merge with web conferencing features, video conferencing will continue evolving in other ways as the presence of telecommuting, globalization and Millennial workers grows in the workplace.

Expect to see video conferencing technology that is even more intuitive and equipped with better video and sound quality, as well as more integrations of video conferencing within unified communications tools. As more industries discover the versatility of video conferencing for both internal and external communication, this tool may find its way to line-of-business applications, as well.

Learn More

The benefits of video conferencing yield a variety of applications. Read just some of the examples of how video conferencing advances collaboration in your industry:

  1. Technology has revolutionized sales practices, but building strong, personal connections with prospects remains a priority. PGi’s free whitepaper for sales teams looks out how video conferencing is the new deal closer for top sales organizations.
  2. Learn how a digital marketing agency used PGi’s video conferencing technology to attract and engage clients without leaving the office. Read the free Eighty6 case study.

What is the Difference Between Video and Web Conferencing?

There are a lot of confusing, potentially redundant-sounding terms commonly used in the conferencing and collaboration space. For example, both web conferencing and video conferencing seem similar if not synonymous at first glance: both involve real-time communication between two or more parties from laptops, desktops or mobile devices.

While there are still important distinctions between these two technologies, it’s also important to remember that collaboration solutions are experiencing something of a convergence, where once-separate tools are increasingly blurring lines and becoming more similar in features and functionality.

So let’s answer the important question: what’s the difference between web conferencing and video conferencing?

Web Conferencing

Traditionally, the primary purpose of these tools has been document, file and project collaboration. Key web conferencing features were desktop sharing, application sharing and file sharing. In other words, a web conference is where you pulled parties together online to annotate a document, view a project in progress or get a walkthrough of a new website, software design, training procedure, etc.

While the best web conferencing services offered featured audio connections and also rudimentary video streaming capabilities, the focus was on the content being shared, and the features were designed accordingly. Web conferences were and continue to be primarily accessed through desktops and laptops. These online meetings required little additional investment, although as mobile devices and remote work have become more common, smartphones and tablets are increasingly popular methods for joining web conferencing meetings.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing, on the other hand, centered on connecting people through video streams, often with very little other features involved. The goal of video conferencing was simply to bridge distance, recreating the experience of meeting in-person through webcams or even large, room-based video conferencing systems to facilitate group meetings.

While many organizations still utilize room-based video systems, and new software integrations are continually being developed to bring new collaboration technologies into those systems, the transition to cloud-based collaboration applications has made it just as common to have a video conference on a laptop, desktop or mobile device.

The Lines Are Blurring

A primary reason behind the confusion between these two conferencing terms is that the lines are increasingly blurring. As technology becomes more sophisticated, video-enabled endpoints more readily available and high-speed internet connections more common, both technologies have integrated features primarily reserved for the other in response to market demands.

While web conferencing was traditionally designed primarily as a content-sharing and collaboration platform, web conferences are increasingly centering around streaming and HD video streams between guests in addition to document collaboration.

And though video conferencing still places its emphasis on emulating in-person meetings with the focus on video, many tools have been added like screen sharing, file sharing and other features that used to be entirely the purview of web conferencing solutions.

Ultimately, these lines will continue to blur, creating the need for seamless, unified collaboration platforms that can manage audio, video, content and even asynchronous communication such as instant messaging and social business platforms for easy online meetings. Until then, however, both web and video conferencing will continue to play vital roles in keeping today’s businesses connected and collaborative.

Learn More

Video Conferencing Tools for the Advertising Professional

Advertising agencies are constantly looking for effective ways to collaborate with their clients. Video conferencing technology provides an ideal solution to agencies that want to maintain close bonds with their clients while saving time and money.

There are a number of video conferencing companies on the market that offer different features. To target the right online meeting software that meets your company’s needs, it’s important to first identify the various features and their advantages.

Instant access
The delay of emails, traditional mail and IT restrictions can negatively impact productivity. Using online meeting tools allows you to instantly share any content or feedback over the web—quickly reducing the turnaround time. Additionally, the instant sharing of assets will allow your clients to feel more involved and connected, which will help improve customer relationships and form a more unified team approach.

Relationship building
Face-to-face contact is vital as agencies nurture relationships with their clients. Typically, account managers and creative teams alike must visit their clients in person to gain an intimate understanding of their core business or present new creative work in order to ensure a strong working relationship. Over time, the heavy burden of travel can prove both expensive and time-consuming.

With PGi’s collaboration products, agencies can still create personal connections and build client confidence—without having to leave the office.

Global teams
With the rapid growth of multicultural advertising and the imperative for global perspectives in business, creative and client teams can no longer afford to be restricted by geographic location. But with smart online meeting tools, agencies can collaborate with clients, vendors, contractors and freelancers virtually. And with top talent now accessible around the world and just a click away, your agency can deliver a high-quality finished product to your clients.

Live collaboration
Video conferencing services like iMeet make it easy to collaborate virtually.
iMeet is ideal for smaller brainstorm sessions, on-the-fly meetings, staying in touch with clients and even virtual focus groups. In just one click, you can be face-to-face with up to 15 team members from around the world. iMeet has a virtual file cabinet with a 250MB capacity, allowing you to store or share documents of all types as well as videos. The screen share feature allows you to share individual content files or your entire screen. The low bandwidth, HD-quality video is perfect for seeing everyone clearly while not dragging down network resources.

Integrated product tools
iMeet is also fully integrated with Evernote, a popular tool among creative and production professionals who demand the best in multimedia and project organization. Additionally, an in-product note tool is fully integrated within iMeet so meeting attendees can multilaterally contribute to meeting minutes and conference reports, then distribute to attendees from iMeet directly with just one click.

Integrated social media
Social media is a powerful visual outlet and has become one of the most important communication channels available to businesses today. iMeet’s integrated social media lets agencies allow clients access to the social media channels of their choice and further relationships beyond the meeting. Account managers can provide LinkedIn and Twitter accounts while Creatives can opt for Flickr, a more visual representation of their personality. iMeet delivers a fully integrated and personalized meeting experience that supports creative business excellence.

Do you work for an advertising agency? Learn more how agencies just like yours can use video and web conferencing tools to improve client relationships and save costs today!