Welcome to the first post in our new blog series, It Really Can (and Maybe Should) Be Interconnected.

We’ll begin the series with a discussion about Unified Communications (UC). Biamp is involved in important areas of the UC spectrum by connecting highly engineered audio technologies to “plain old telephone systems” (POTS), VoIP, and/or soft codec audio connections, making the conferencing experience more productive and effective. Adding the right AV solution to compliment POTS, VoIP, and soft codec technologies increases their effectiveness as a collaboration tool.

Biamp technologies like Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) are critical in audio and video conferencing. When conferences use open microphones and loudspeakers in the same room, the application of AEC is necessary to achieve successful calls. Use of Biamp’s AEC has positive and necessary effects on users both in the room and at the far end of the calls. The end result is increased collaboration because every on the call is clearly heard and the focus can then shift from managing, or working around the conferencing technology to the work itself.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Far too often, office phones and/or portable conferencing phone systems are used in the wrong room applications and/or with inappropriate numbers of people crowding around those systems. Audio conferencing systems establish the end users’ experiences (good or bad) on each call. When inappropriate systems are used, for the rooms and/or quantity of callers on one side, the opposite side suffers. Who’s on the other end of your calls: important customers, a supervisor, the company CEO? Can any business afford negative conferencing experiences with callers? When surveyed, 38% of senior IT professionals reported inefficiencies and wasted time during conference calls because of failings in the technology. A full 10% of the average one-hour meeting is wasted on figuring out the standard conferencing system and waiting for participants to dial in. Choosing the wrong conferencing technology makes it difficult to build rapport, and productivity declines. This is exacerbated by static, interrupted service, echo, and poor sound quality.

While deployed on active duty a few years ago, I experienced the catastrophe of hosting a teleconference with insufficient technology. I participated in a pivotal conference call involving four main locations and several cell phone users, all calling into a bridge. Each location used a portable teleconferencing system with extended mics. Our location hosted the call. The host room included 25 Officers, half of whom were sitting around the table, with glass windows on three sides of the room. The experience was a disaster! Our portable conferencing system did not perform well and many participants on the far end of the call experienced heavy feedback and other issues, making it extremely difficult to communicate critical information. The frustration on our end was staggering. If we could have measured them, blood pressure readings in that room would have been off the charts. At the conclusion of the call, a Commander colorfully commented about the technical problems, rather than the discussion topic or the resulting decisions. The focus was definitely on the technological shortcomings and not what we achieved on the call.

Talking Trends
VoIP and/or POTS products still comprise the majority of conferencing equipment; however, there is a growing trend toward using soft codecs as audio and/or video conferencing products. As businesses continue to expand across the globe, the need to build strong virtual teams is more important than ever. Biamp’s TesiraFORTÉ has become our integrators’ choice conferencing platform for incorporating high-caliber technologies into their projects. With TesiraFORTÉ, Biamp has simplified the connection of necessary microphones and tailored audio into soft codecs via USB connections, allowing the technology to enhance communication and collaboration.

At Biamp, we are seeing a rise in challenges at the integration level. Integration with VoIP continues to grow, as does the integration of multiple/different IT systems. Biamp recommends that our integrators seek VoIP and IT training for their DSP programmers. Biamp offers many VoIP training opportunities and materials; additionally, we suggest that integrators pursue training relevant to the major VoIP providers such as Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and ShoreTel. Biamp’s online technical support knowledgebase, Cornerstone, is dedicated to providing in-depth technical information on Biamp products.

AV and IT must work in tandem to deliver a single unified experience for users. At Biamp, we understand the role that AV technologies play in communication and collaboration, and how pivotal that role is to designing systems that deliver on a global scale and help businesses expand and thrive.