Here’s why control systems should be the heart and soul of dedicated video conferencing solutions
Today, the market for pro-AV video conferencing solutions span across multiple devices, brands, integrators, and vendors. During the last year, video conferencing has been greatly accelerated by the global pandemic, resulting in remote work and online collaboration. Now, companies are reaping the new normal benefits, which evolves around meeting rooms catering to a wide variety of different pro-AV equipment and functionalities. The need for multiple sources, multiple devices and multiple use-scenarios needs to be incorporated into the room for it to function as an effective collaboration platform. Expanding the functionality of a dedicated video conferencing room and adding devices to support multiple sources, using a single control system doesn’t have to be complicated.
A growing market of pro-AV video conferencing solutions
Meeting rooms, both large and small that must support video conferencing, presentations and internal meetings, are growing increasingly popular worldwide. Without a doubt, video conferencing is here to stay going forward in a post-pandemic scenario. And selecting the most appropriate pro-AV video conferencing setup for a meeting room is one of the most crucial first steps to ensure professional and streamlined video meetings and collaboration of on-site and remote workers.
Whether businesses are upgrading their pro-AV equipment or investing in a new solution, it is key to configure the equipment in the best possible way to support this goal. The market for AV-equipment can be a jungle to navigate through, as there are many different types of video conferencing solutions, UC platforms and various other things IT managers must consider when deciding what the solution should look like.
By investing in a dedicated video conferencing solution, IT-managers don’t need to configure anything themselves, which may seem like the ideal solution due to the simplicity a dedicated solution provides. But where dedicated solutions are ideal to one locked communication form, such as online meetings on a specific platform, they lack the ability to support flexibility in different work- and usage-scenarios. The user-friendly experience diminishes as more and more devices are placed in the room to cater to the wide variety in ways employees' work. Here, control is vital.
Dedicated hardware solutions and the continuous aim for consistency
Companies aim for consistency and convenience and most importantly to avoid Shadow IT when providing meeting spaces with a pro-AV video conferencing solution. A dedicated video conferencing solution offers just that, and it consists of a complete hardware solution where all the connections are made through a dedicated computer located in the meeting space. The complete solution consists of a configured VC-platform such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom-rooms, or Google Meet, a webcam, and a microphone.
The market offers many different hardware solutions configured to different applications. One popular dedicated hardware solution on that is on the market right now is Logitech’s Logitech Tap. Logitech Tap is a dedicated solution that works with Google Meet, Zoom-rooms or Microsoft Team-rooms. Other solutions, such as HP Slice 2 is a video conferencing solution configured with Microsoft Teams that offer the same experience as Logitech Tap in a closed environment. Again, Lenovo Smart Hub, another dedicated hardware solution, provides the same experience as the ones mentioned earlier and is configured to support Microsoft Teams. Again, a complete hardware solution with one dedicated VC-platform.
Common for all of these solutions and brands is that users get a predefined experience, developed and installed to focus on a smooth user experience in online meetings. With a dedicated solution, the IT manager can get away with a lot fewer support tickets from the day-to-day users – or can he? Most of the time, dedicated solutions are tamper-proof. A tamper-proof solution means that users are locked into one complete eco-system where they use the pre-chosen application and collaboration tools. Furthermore, these AV-solutions come with admin platforms where IT-managers can manage access, configure settings, devices and much more. Despite the dedicated pro-AV solution being tamper-proof, users may begin to try and tamper with the solution if the platform doesn’t suit their way of working, which leads to the wrong usage. In its essence, a dedicated pro-AV video conferencing solution is ideal for online meetings as it is easily installed. But the more devices in the meeting room expand, the more control is needed.
Peripheral devices or room elements beyond the dedicated video conference solution itself are not controlled or supported by other than their own remote
Dedicated hardware solutions are non-configured or pre-installed in a locked ecosystem
A dedicated hardware solution consists of a dedicated VC-platform (Microsoft Teams, Zoom-rooms, Google)
Dedicated video conferencing solution's main objective is to support and create smooth online meetings – nothing more
Expand your dedicated devices to support multiple sources
In the continuous aim for consistency and easy maintenance across multiple meeting rooms, one issue often stands unanswered and unnoticed: What do you do when you invest in a dedicated hardware solution that is locked into one eco-system, such as Zoom-rooms, and employees must participate in a meeting with external partners where Microsoft-Teams, Slack or Google Meet is preferred? When investing in a pro-AV hardware solution, the main goal is to get full value from that investment, meaning that employees get a seamless experience when attending meetings. This means that the camera, sound system etc. should be usable no matter the video conferencing platform.
A dedicated pro-AV video conferencing solution is easy to install and use, it’s safe, and aesthetically it looks great. But as time goes on, and as more devices are added to the meeting space, the more complex the room gets. The increased number of devices become overwhelming for both users and IT managers. The lack of flexibility in different work- and usage-scenarios may begin to immerge.
A scenario often seen in conference rooms and meeting spaces is the need to screen share during internal meetings, which is not possible in a dedicated video conferencing solution. Often, IT managers decide to invest in additional devices to accommodate those needs. Here, one popular screen sharing solution is Airtame. Airtame is popular due to its attractive price and its ease of use. With an Airtame added to the meeting room, it is not ideal to have yet another touch panel placed on the table, since there is already one dedicated solution in the meeting room. Without having any definitive solution on how to control the multiple devices individually or simultaneously, the standard remote is left in the meeting room. Now the issue stands, as users are forced to control each device separately with separate controls.
At some point, a dedicated hardware solution may partially cover the need for digital meetings and remote collaboration. Where dedicated pro-AV video conference solutions show its strength in predefined online meeting experiences, it also shows its lack of flexibility as more and more devices are adapted in the meeting room. As users want to utilize agile ways of working by bringing their own devices, use their preferred platforms or do content sharing, the need for source control increases radically. How can users possibly remember which remote controls what? It’s difficult to find the right button, and the remote disappears etc. We have all been there.
Achieve consistency with control systems
It is essential to look beyond the dedicated devices and into the meeting space as a whole, as it is crucial in creating a seamless experience for the users, resulting in less support time for the IT manager. Today, users prefer meeting rooms and video conferencing solutions that cater to modern, agile ways of working and a wide variety of use scenarios. Meeting rooms must support a wide variety of different scenarios, and not just online video conferencing. Especially in modern organizations where knowledge is the primary operation, there are many different variables in each and everyone's work situation. Meeting rooms must cater to everyone – despite different preferences in the workplace.
Being forced to use a single ecosystem, such as Microsoft Team-Rooms or Zoom-Rooms may result in users trying to find workarounds and download programs that in the long run compromises the user-friendliness and makes the system's security vulnerable and yields additional work for the IT-manager. This is where pro-AV control systems come in. With a pro-AV control system, the users are provided with one simplified and streamlined interface that controls the entire pro-AV-equipment portfolio individually or simultaneously, which is the heart and soul of consistency across multiple meeting rooms. Remember the scenario where the meeting space consists of a dedicated hardware solution, such as Logitech Tap and a peripheral device like Airtame and both must be controlled separately using different applications or remote controls?
With a pro-AV control system, such as Neets Control – UniForm or Neets Touch Panels, users are provided with a primary interface that expands the meeting rooms capabilities to support multiple sources from different brands and applications, as it integrates all the dedicated device functionalities in just one place. Users can now control and switch between Logitech Tap and Airtame inputs through source control, creating a seamless and user-friendly experience. Most importantly, there are no more remotes.
Upgrading the meeting room with an installation of a pro-AV control system, user-experience is greatly enhanced. When connecting all the available pro-AV equipment, users are provided with one easily decodable interface where they can operate all of the different devices in the meeting room and choose between different inputs – no matter the brand. The added configuration and control greatly enhance user-friendliness. A pro-AV control system controls wireless and wired screen sharing, presentation and video conferencing.
Furthermore, it is a fully customizable pro-AV control system and an intuitive button interface all-in-one. The customizability ensures that Neets Control – UniForm can control unique applications without compromising functionality and quality. The user-friendly GUI, together with intuitive, physical buttons, ensure that users instinctively know how to operate the video conferencing system and the peripheral devices.
An AV control system for a seamless and user-friendly experience
Neets Control - UniForm is an 8-button E-ink keypad that can be configured to the exact needs of your meeting room.
Wrapping up: Why AV control systems benefit both users and IT managers
Dedicated hardware solutions and devices are great. They offer security, are easily controlled and maintained by the IT-department. But they may also limit users, who seek out alternatives in order to use their preferred VC-platforms so they can participate in external meetings. In worst-case, they may completely avoid using the meeting room and instead use their own devices and platforms permanently.
By adding more peripherals into the meeting room to suit the needs of the users and the many different work scenarios and agile ways of working, the need for an AV Control system is key as it brings together all the different technologies and creates a seamless user experience. With a control system, users don’t have to worry about having to use multiple applications or remotes to control all of the different AV-equipment. They just use one.
Having control from a central location on the wall or the table in the meeting space creates an intuitive user-experience and starting point for both online and physical meetings. With Neets keypad control systems and Neets Touch Panels, the aim is to eliminate the need for extra remote controls in the meeting space. Users don’t have to worry about figuring out which remote belongs to which device.
Take the user-friendliness a step further
With Neets touch panels' graphical user interfaces, users get a modern and appealing design, which is easy to understand. Additionally, the user interfaces have pre-designed templates, but the UI’s can be customized to fit the specific functions in the meeting space.
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