InfoComm Offers a Plethora of Collaborations Solutions

cisco-collab-0614Practically everyone now offers a collaboration solution was the clear take away from my recent visit to InfoComm 2014. From telecons to document sharing; from video calling to video conferencing; solutions in all shapes and sizes could be had.

I met with a number of companies at InfoComm and learned about many solutions, but clearly not all of them. You can read articles and press releases, or view video summaries at this link.

Cisco, for example, now offers collaboration tools that span the range of price points and offer connectivity across nearly every platform. At the low end are the Webex and Jabber products. Webex is positioned more as a desktop tool for sharing documents or presentations, and is video-conferencing enabled. Jabber is aimed more at video calls and person-to-person interaction with mobile devices. Jabber is supported in all Operating Systems and includes chat, video calling and the ability to roll into a Webex conference if needed. And, you can even join higher-end video conferencing solutions using Cisco or competitive products as long as they follow standard interface protocols.

At the mid-tier level, Cisco offers three desktop monitors with a built-in video conferencing camera and a software package to manage a fleet of these monitors across an enterprise. The 23″ DX80 will carry an MSRP of $3,990 (with street price about half that), while the MSRP on the 14″ (DX70) is $2,750 and $1,695 on the 7″ (DX650).

For more sophisticated video meeting rooms, Cisco offers several solutions. For example, the MX700 and MX800 systems are full featured solutions that come with either one or two cameras, and one or two screens – all integrated into a standalone display/camera/audio solution. The camera position and zoom is all automated based upon a sophisticated face tracking and audio triangulation system, which worked well in the demo even on the noisy exhibition floor.

Others focus on pieces of the collaboration solution. Barco updated their ClickShare solution by introducing a central management capability for the enterprise and showing a prototype projector with the Wi-Fi-based receiver built in (we used ClickShare for our Display Summit to allow presenters to connect from the podium laptop to the Barco projectors, which is a great application).

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Christie expanded its wireless Brio solution into three versions: Team, Team+ and Enterprise.

Mersive is having success in Universities with their Solstice wireless collaboration tool, which was just upgraded to 2.0.

Tidebreak is focusing on the collaboration process and designing tools and metrics to focus on successful outcomes.

We also met with BlueJeans who says they are serving up 1.2 million video conferencing minutes every day and are now the leader in this segment with a one-third market share. They offer a cloud-based video collaboration layer that integrates multiple other services. They grew 500 percent last year.

Bluescape is a new company that offers a cloud-based collaboration solution that allows participants to pull in web pages, videos and more, plus do annotations. There is support right now for images and pdf file, but not for Office documents like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

AMX is in the game too. At InfoComm it launched a newly-designed video conferencing camera, which is part of its Enzo collaboration box, featuring integration with Dropbox.

Pixelworks demonstrated its VueMagic hardware and software solutions, which feature a small dongle to transform a display into a collaboration platform.

Sony’s Vision Presenter leverages standard PC solutions with a software layer to manage content flowing to a touchscreen display, a projector or even two blended projectors.

And there were more announcements from Vidyo, Kramer, Prysm, FSR, Clary Icon, SMART, Huawei and more, I am sure.

But I think you get the point. Not only are there a lot of solutions, but it is hard to understand the differences between them and determine which one is right for your organization. We are now in a rapid growth phase for these offering with new features and uses of the tools being discovered every day. It is kind of the wild west for these tools, which is exciting and challenging at the same time. But until there is some consolidation here, which will be some time yet I suspect, buyers and users will have to carefully evaluate these offerings.