Almost as good as being there

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Feb 3 2014, 07:13am hrs
As the workforce becomes more mobile and distributed, leaders are recognising the benefits and the growing impact of video as a key part of business collaboration. In fact, video is becoming more pervasive. Case in point is todays desktop, laptop and mobile devices: its not about having a camera or not, its about whether it has one or more cameras!

Video collaboration can improve communications, relationships and productivity by helping people meet face-to-face over distances. According to Cisco, among the major players in this field, video collaboration can improve decision-making by reducing communications delay; it can build trust and understanding across time zones within cross-functional and diverse teams; it can reduce employee travel, real-estate costs and environmental impact; it can encourage information sharing and knowledge building with employees, partners and customers.

Of late, there have been various cases of major IT services providers getting benefited from high quality video collaboration. For instance, iGATEthe consulting and outsourcing services companywhile looking to create a better delivery model since most of the process delivery employees were spread across multiple geographies and not physically close to customers, has decided to deploy a video conferencing solution to enable efficient communication. By deploying a high-definition video conferencing solution, we have been able to facilitate effective communication between sales, production, finance, IT, HR and administration teams across various locations. This has helped improve our collaboration capability many times over and also meet our business objectives, said Chella Namasivayam, CIO, iGATE.

Similarly, Persistent Systems the technology company specialising in software product development serviceswhich already used video-conferencing extensively, realised that the need of the hour was a single collaboration platform that could facilitate communication in multiple ways and enable continued conversations and follows-ups for knowledge sharing. It chose to deploy Cisco Quad which combines the power of social networking with unified communications, business information and content management systems. Using the Cisco Quad we have been able to improve our collaboration capabilities many times over. A comprehensive platform for communication that allows merging disparate collaboration platforms, the Cisco Quad has helped us reduce collaboration platform infrastructure cost by 30%, said Manjiri Ranade, AVP, Operations, Persistent Systems.

Likewise, KPIT Cumminsthe end-to-end product design, engineering and IT services company when realising that a large percentage of employees were either on travel or at customer sites so physical infrastructure (workstations, PCs etc) was not being fully used and that there was an urgent need to ensure better utilisation of workplace resources and cut down costs, deployed the Cisco datacenter architecture and UCS framework along with VCE coalition to deliver a broad range of IT capabilities. The benefits have been both qualitative and quantitative. On one hand the implementation has helped us to right-size our infrastructure and improve its utility while on the other it has enabled easy migration of applications irrespective of the number of users, said Mandar Marulkar, head, Technical Infrastructure Management Services and CISO, KPIT Cummins.

Cognizant, which started embracing telepresence as early as end-2009 for internal senior management meetings, quickly extended its use to meetings with clients and external analysts, as well as support internal knowledge and project management activities. According to the company, its benefits have already been substantial: smoother internal meetings with better mutual understanding and improved decision-making; more effective and productive client meetings; substantially lower travel costs with a smaller carbon footprint; and a better work/life balance. In fact, Cognizant has said that telepresence is helping it outmanoeuvre competitors by strengthening its relationships with its clients and creating a more connected Cognizant.

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)the IT services company when entering new markets and realising it needs a significant improvement in organisational effectiveness, decided to engage Cisco for developing a comprehensive collaboration ecosystem within CSC.

But what next for video collaboration Cisco says that it now taking these interactions to the next level, and in many cases these experiences can prove to be better than actually being there.

On this, Dahnesh Dilkhush, lead, Collaboration Architecture Group, Cisco India & Saarc, said, Today, video collaboration has reached to such levels that it feels the person is sitting literally in front of you; you dont need to travel miles and miles. The experience is so optimal that you dont really have to meet that person, in person. But the next leap is that you can access the video over the internet without requiring a virtual private network (VPN); for instance, sitting in a coffee shop you can join a video-conferencing via your iPhone! The next big thing for us is that a personirrespective of whether he is inside the office, outside, on the road, or at home, and irrespective of what device he may be using (a laptop, iPhone)gets the same video experience that he otherwise gets in the dedicated video-conferencing room. In short, the next step for us is making video collaboration far, far simpler.

But will such a technology also have a new name Dilkhush added, It all falls under the broad area of immersive telepresence.