Huddle spaces are remarkably valuable and effective in open offices. They provide the means for collaboration or conversely a quiet room for independent work and taking calls. A Cisco survey of users found that 93% of those surveyed stated that open office environments require more huddle spaces but 78% have been frustrated with their meeting technology in the last six months. While huddle spaces are increasingly needed in open office environments, the same Cisco survey noted that nearly 8 out of 10 huddle space users were frustrated with huddle space supportive technology.
This frustration can come from a number of problems: poor audio and video quality, unreliable solutions, complicated user experience for joining meetings, or a general difficulty in using collaboration platforms, all of which take away from a room intended to help with creating a more productive workplace. Many huddle space problems stem from two over-arching issues: interoperability and training.
In The Integration Guide to Conferencing, Alex Bisset, VP of Platform Strategy at HB Communications notes, “Now a client has to manage 10, 20, 100, or 200 PCs as opposed to managing a few dedicated appliances. We take that requirement seriously. What are the security implications? How do I keep everything up to date?” A simplified user experience for conferencing is paramount to easing the workflow burdens associated with platform-based communications and web conferencing.
But, what happens when one platform doesn’t do it all
Suddenly, you’ll need an ecosystem full of partners to solve your problems. Previously integration was no easy task. The lack of platform interoperability has impeded users from moving forward with tech/refresh migrations. Legacy systems won’t talk to new systems, and the new systems often break the workflow or don’t work at all when used together with traditional video conferencing systems.
Protecting an initial technology investment is important, gone are the days of workflow silos. Poly, Starleaf, Zoom, Lifesize, and Cisco each have their own strategy for dealing with interoperability. For example, using Poly’s RealConnect cloud service for Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, and Skype for Business, RealConnect is able to talk to legacy video conferencing systems. This type of cloud intermediary unifies the user experience and brings your new huddle spaces together with legacy, appliance-based, video conferencing systems.
Open API standards are becoming increasingly important to huddle space deployments. For example, Cisco Roomkits can detect when you plug them into an LG display, the display reboots with preloaded software that gives you a seamless experience through all of your rooms. The LG monitors will now all have the same look and feel and your administrator doesn’t have to do anything custom. It’s all part of the automated onboarding and administrative experience. This ease of use helps your organization to utilize the best in Huddle Space solutions while still being easy to use and interoperable with legacy video conferencing systems.
The SCN Training and Service Guide remarks that the “ubiquity of cloud-based collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Skype for Business, and Cisco Webex provide AV integrators with the opportunity to offer more sophisticated user training.” Alex believes that an integrator’s value will be based on their willingness to provide applications-based training and on-going platform-oriented solutions. “We’re making the investment as a partner to cover the full enterprise collaboration platform ecosystem and to work with all of these different modalities on an applications level,” Alex said. Digital media platforms, platforms that include signage at the door, in the room, in the common areas of a company are all critical parts of the AV ecosystem. These need to come together harmonically when you begin to design solutions for your huddle space environments based on that mindset.Finding solutions that are willing to work with one another—those that can talk across all platforms is key. As Alex says, his favorite user-interface is the one you don’t have to touch. The ultimate goal is to deliver a consistent user experience across the environment. Huddle spaces can be an integral part of your workplace environment so long as your content sharing solutions map closely to your collaboration platform strategies. Technology must be frictionless but you must pay attention to interoperability and employee training for this to occur.
If this task seems daunting, please contact HB Communications to help you with your interoperability needs for creating a huddle space environment from scratch and to bring legacy technology into the mix. Or feel free to schedule a complimentary Q&A session with Alex.