The Teams Video Conferencing Dilemma
The Human Video Factor
Everyone is now using video in light of COVID-19. Video conferencing has become commonplace through the likes Cisco WebEx, Zoom and GoToMeeting. Many people claim that they attend conferences on multiple platforms every day. These conferencing vendors have seen a phenomenal rise in popularity, which is a testimony to their ability to keep people connected.
Those of us who have been workingfrom home for years understand video is a key tool forconnectingremoteteams. Face-to-face communication is a great way to communicate with people. You can easily discern facial expressions and body language to determine if they are listening or if they want to share your thoughts. Remote communication is now possible with video. It’s as close as you can get to face-to-face communication using today’s technology. It’s easy to get distracted, drift away from a conversation, or just have moments of silence without video. Video makes people engage.
Most companies have stated that they will offer a mixed Work from Home (WFH), and office strategy in the aftermath of the pandemic. Video conferencing will still play a crucial role. However, video room systems in the office will become increasingly important as teams remain physically separate. More conference rooms and huddle areas will be required to meet social distancing guidelines. Many companies are now using personal video units, which offer superior quality than embedded laptop microphones and cameras, while allowing for more screen real estate.
The Video Warning
You might be able to guess that there are some limitations to video working seamlessly. This is something many decision makers don’t consider until it is too late. Video needs to functionseamlessly,or people won’t use it. Video from Teams is as simple as clicking on a co-worker’s photo or starting a group meeting from within a space.
Slack does not have a video strategy. It uses links to various tools. Microsoft uses a proprietary codec (see SIP below), which means that it only works with Microsoft Teams video (unless a third-party translation service is used).
Cisco has the best video story because it uses the industry standard SIP protocol in their Teams platform which allows it connect to external meetings like Zoomseam or Webex.
The Components of a Digit Communication System
We need to understand the video concern by breaking down the three main components of a digital communications system: individual endpoints and conferencing endpoints. Many people use all three components in their daily lives, without realizing they are separate. Therefore, conference room endpoints or conference bridges are often mixed into Teams discussions and not given the proper attention. Let’s dive deeper into the components…
1. Individual endpointsOn a consumer side, personal ends are usually our phones, tablets or laptops. Slack, Microsoft Teams, and WebexTeams (desktop, mobile) are the individual endpoints in the corporate world.
2. Conferencing endpoints
Many of us use our phones and laptops to call family and friends. However, we expect better quality and reliability in the corporate world. We use our phones to call family and friends, while many of us huddle around laptops.
3. Conference bridges
When designed well, conference bridges can connect three or more people. Many of the most popular social media platforms, such as FaceTime, Instagram and Google Hangouts have integrated conference bridges into its offerings. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, consumers were introduced to Cisco Webexor Zoom corporate-level conference bridges. These bridges tie together dissimilar endpoints (from Apple, Microsoft and Android), offer content sharing whiteboards, remote control, management for larger groups (i.e. virtual classrooms), as well as content sharing, whiteboards and remote screen control.
Microsoft has a cloud-based conference bridge service, but it only works with Microsoft endpoints.Webex, Zoom,andGoToWebinarcurrently have 70% of the web and video conferencing market, so being compatible with them can prove valuable.
Session Initiation Protocol for Video (SIP): Standards vs. Proprietary
Computer systems must communicate in the same language as humans. Session Initiation Protocol (or SIP) is the de facto protocol or language for communication between endpoints and from endpoints on a video bridge. Cisco, Polycom, and LifeSizeuse SIP are the most prominent video endpoint manufacturers. SIP is also used by most bridge providers such as Zoom,BlueJeans and GoToMeeting. In fact,the vast majority ofthe industry standardized on the SIP protocolseveralyearsagofor two primary reasons.
First, SIP has proven to provide outstanding quality and an excellent end-user experience.Second, SIP is the most interoperable solution available, allowing businesses the greatest flexibility in endpoint selection and interoperability for business to business (B2B) communication.There has been one holdout in the industry’s adoption of the SIP protocol…Microsoft. Microsoft doesn’t use SIP, they use their proprietary protocol. Microsoft licenses their proprietary protocol but very few third-party manufacturers have to deal with the complexity and cost of adopting it.
There is a glaring gap in Microsoft-compatible conference room endspoints. Also, if you need to speak to another company, a complex translation service.