This article first appeared on Best in UC.
Not too many years ago, the term “convergence” applied to voice and data traveling over the same network. In today’s business world, convergence is taking on an entirely new meaning as video becomes a standard – and even preferred – method of communicating. More companies of all sizes desire – and expect – video to become an integral part of their unified communications (UC) strategy.
Demand is also increasing thanks to strategies from Google and Microsoft, which have incorporated video and voice into their business-to-consumer product solutions. Consumers wish to use all of the features of free services such as Google Mail and Skype. To get the most out of these applications, they buy video cameras and microphones for their home laptops and mobile phones. Then, when these same technology users go to the office, they expect similar functionality on the job.
Currently, most businesses that integrate video into their daily operations rely on a point-to-point room system, where several people gather around conference tables in two locations for one-to-one video conferencing. But increasingly, businesses are looking for desktop video systems that allow individual users to be conferenced in from their locations around the world.
ShoreTel is one of the few business-to-business UC suppliers that currently offers video integration into its desktop UC solution. Using ShoreTel, users within an enterprise can conduct video meetings from desktop to desktop, whether scheduled or ad hoc.
ShoreTel is currently working to take its video solution even further. The company is partnering with manufacturers of room-based video systems to integrate its desktop video capabilities, allowing enterprises to bring key resources into their point-to-point video meetings. For example, a company might hold a videoc onference in two large rooms on opposite coasts. If an outside expert from the heartland was needed on the call, the ShoreTel system would allow this consultant to participate via their own desktop computer.
Eventually, room systems and desktop UC solutions will become compatible. UC users will be able to meet via voice or video with the click of a mouse and incorporate the appropriate expert resources. Documents will be shared across both types of solutions as well. Plus, more users will be able to participate without requiring a large investment on a videoconferencing room at every location. This will make meetings more effective, reduce travel, and facilitate faster and better business decisions.