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  • 1. Audio, Video and Document Conferencing ATG’s Communications & Networking Technology Guide Series This guide has been sponsored by
  • 2. Table of Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Nature of Today’s Business Climate. . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Technology Trends Support Changes . . . . . . . . . . . in Business Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Infrastructure Improvements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Unique Value of Conferenced . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programs and Meetings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Innovative Industry-Specific Applications . . . . . . 12 Matching the Conference Type to Your Need . . . 14 How Conferencing Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Putting Conferencing to Work for You. . . . . . . . . 20 How to Select a Conferencing Service Provider . . 22 Case Study Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Glossary of Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 About the Editor… Gerald P. Ryan is the Technology Editor of the ATG series of Technology Guides on Communications and is the author of numerous technology papers on various aspects of networking. Mr. Ryan has developed and taught many courses in network analysis and design for carriers, government agencies, and private industry. He has provided consulting support in the area of WAN and LAN network design, negotiation with carriers for contract pricing and services, technology acquisition, customized software development for network administration, billing and auditing of telecommunication expenses, project management, and RFP generation. He was the president and founder of Connections Telecommunications, Inc., a Massachusetts based company specializing in consulting, education, and software tools which address net- work design and billing issues. Mr. Ryan is a member of the Networld+Interop Program Committee. He holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering. This book is the property of The Applied Technologies Group and is made available upon these terms and conditions. The Applied Technolo- gies Group reserves all rights herein. Reproduction in whole or in part of this book is only permitted with the written consent of The Applied Technologies Group. This report shall be treated at all times as a propri- etary document for internal use only. This book may not be duplicated in any way, except in the form of brief excerpts or quotations for the purpose of review. In addition, the information contained herein may not be duplicated in other books, databases, or any other medium. Making copies of this book, or any portion for any purpose other than your own, is a violation of United States Copyright Laws. The information contained in this report is believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed to be complete or correct. For more information contact MCI at 8750 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, Chicago, IL 60631 Web Site: http://nmc.mci.com Copyright © 1998 by The Applied Technologies Group, One Apple Hill, Suite 216, Natick, MA 01760, Tel: (508) 651-1155, Fax: (508) 651-1171 E-mail: info@techguide.com Web Site: http:/ /www.techguide.com
  • 3. Introduction • There is an increasing reliance on ad hoc work groups drawn from different operational and geographic areas of the company. These work This Technology Guide explains the importance groups often include contract employees, consul- of conferencing services in today’s business climate tants, and others from outside the company, who and explores the availability of these services and their can supply critical skills. value to a company’s business operations. This Guide also discusses various conferencing options such as • There is an overall tightening of time schedules audio, video, and document conferencing and estab- and deadlines in an effort to redefine the traditional lishes key characteristics which allow potential users ideas of responsiveness and competitiveness. to select the best service provider. Finally, this Guide • The increasing complexity of business issues often explains the functional and operational requirements requires simultaneous input and assistance from of these conferencing options and demonstrates how different divisions such as sales, marketing, engi- easily they can be included in the day-to-day business neering, manufacturing, and legal departments. environment. • Managers scrutinize financial and human costs far more closely as the bottom line is weighed against its financial contribution. Nature of Today’s • Support organizations are increasingly concerned with the accountability of slow, or inaccurate Business Climate communications. • Businesses now sell more in the global marketplace Time is money, and time spent traveling can mean and rely on international partners and suppliers to missed opportunities and undue wear and tear on the a greater extent. This requires a global interaction employee. Fortunately, dramatic improvements in for day-to-day business dealings. conferencing services (in the speed, capacity, and reliability of the underlying communications transport • Businesses are trying to remain competitive as technologies), have made them viable and necessary pressure mounts to reduce costs. business tools. • Management must weigh the advantages of flexible work arrangements and tele-commuting against Changes in Business Needs the ability to use human and technical resources to their fullest extent. Even in the best of circumstances, successful busi- ness meetings still take a long time to arrange and • New business alliances, acquisitions, and mergers attend. Since immediacy is the single most important form and come apart quickly and efficiently. The aspect of today’s business environment, it is important pace of change demands faster and clearer to reduce the amount of time spent on meetings. The communications. following business trends illustrate the need for confer- encing services to improve critical day-to-day operations. 2 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 3
  • 4. All of these trends illustrate the need to enable people to communicate information quickly and reliably. Infrastructure Improvements A variety of conferencing services offered by global telecommunications carriers now provide easy to use The telecommunications infrastructure has and cost efficient ways to meet these growing needs. improved in the areas of capacity, speed, reliability, and ubiquity. These improvements include everything from the provision of ISDN lines to the home for telecom- muters, to analog modem lines in hotel rooms. Technology Trends Support Other improvements include 45 Mbps, T3, or 155 Mbps OC-3 network access at a corporate data center Changes in Business Needs and other similar configurations. These configurations are now available at reasonable costs, with high relia- Two trends in the telecommunications environment bility and availability in most cities around the U.S. are converging to make conferencing services a business and in many places around the globe. The increase reality. These trends, which have made conferencing a in capacity (led by a shift to global fiber-optic based crucial part of business today as the fax machine and networks) coupled with the increased use of enabling cellular telephone, are discussed in detail in the sections network technologies, allows conferencing services to that follow: provide real time communications around the world. • A dramatic improvement in the telecommunica- tions infrastructure and a related reduction in the Product Improvements cost of services. There have also been improvements in conferenc- • The improvement in products and services to ing software and hardware products, which provide allow conferencing offers to take better advantage a richer, more responsive conferencing environment. of improved communications facilities. Great strides have been made in signal compression/ suppression technologies, audio, video, and image Plus, a growing demand for responsive business coding and standardization. These improvements have solutions that address the need for immediacy and been supported by the reduction of the cost, size, and the need for improvement of customer service and complexity of the hardware used to support the full support, only further promotes the progress of these range of conferencing capabilities. This is particularly trends. true in videoconferencing. It is no longer necessary to use a specially equipped videoconferencing room. Today, a PC-mounted camera, available at relatively low cost, can be used for many conferencing applications. Users no longer struggle with the incompatibilities between their conferencing systems and the systems of those parties with whom they would like to communicate. The following devel- opments are responsible for this increased communica- 4 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 5
  • 5. tions compatibility: General Applications • Agreements on key standards have created relatively Audioconference universal compatibility. Purpose: To share information in an electronic • Assistance from the conferencing service provider, meeting format with up to thousands of people at once acting as an interface to provide connectivity and in order to enable live interaction and question/answer compatibility, helps to overcome traditional among participants. compatibility barriers. Examples: Live status reporting, brief staff meetings, sharing information, query subject matter expert, Furthermore, when sharing documents or other Human Resources updates, and investor relations fixed images such as schematics or graphics, it is not meetings. necessary to transmit video feeds from a special Technologies: A standard telephone is the only equip- computer-based graphics card to an expensive video ment required. coder/decoder. PCs now allow multiple users to view, Alternatives: Live meetings, fax, mail, E-mail, etc. and even update, a document simultaneously on These alternatives are less expedient and may lack multiple computers at different sites connected via “hear-it-firsthand” impact and the ability to ask analog circuits. questions interactively. Many organizations use fax, mail, and E-mail to supplement a voice conference, to distribute background material before the voice The Unique Value of conference, or to perform follow-up distribution of documents that result from the conference. If docu- Conferenced Programs ments need to be shared during the conference itself, document conferencing using analog phone lines or and Meetings the Internet arrangement can be a valuable addition. Audioconferences, videoconferences, and on-line Information takes many forms. Historically, it has collaborative conferences do not completely replace been difficult to convey information over long distances the need for fax, mail, and E-mail; they add to because of technology limitations. In the past, it was communications alternatives. not uncommon for people on audioconferences to read Added Value of Conferencing Services: Conferencing complex financial reports to each other, when viewing services address the issue of immediacy in two ways. the data would have been far superior. There are First, before you can deliver mail, faxes, or E-mail, an clearly many situations in which the voiced message audioconference must be convened by inviting partici- cries out for images or video. pants by phone. Secondly, an audioconference allows In today’s conferencing environment, there are live, interactive exchange of ideas, which is often more three general conferencing types: audioconferencing, appropriate for certain situations. videoconferencing, and document conferencing. These conferencing types can be divided into general and industry specific applications, as described in the following sections. 6 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 7
  • 6. Audioconference with Special Requirements Alternatives: Some of the special conferencing func- Purpose: To provide enhanced services to improve tions can be performed through a PBX system with the quality of an audioconference. the support of an in-house attendant. However, in Examples: Multilingual audioconference for partici- many cases, there are no alternatives for many of these pants who do not speak the same language. Many special services, although many conferencing services audioconferencing service providers offer a translation do provide the special services listed. service. Added Value of Conferencing Services: Conferencing Operation: There are several options for establishing services also offer the full menu of special services in a the conference call: cost-effective manner, while allowing the user to select • Operator dials all participants, which frees the the services needed at any given time. participant from the details of the call, such as the dial-in number and access codes. Video/Audioconference Broadcast • Participants call a toll-free number and join a (One Way Video and Audio) conference call. This is ideal for participants who Purpose: To communicate information, in a broad- are away from their phone and for customers who cast format, from a central location to one or more should not be charged for toll calls. remote locations. • Participants dial in and pay their own toll charges. Examples: Human resource announcements, conducting professional presentations, product or The following list describes some possible special process display, or any broadcast situation that does conferencing requirements: not require audience feedback, but does benefit from - Scheduling an “instant conference” (the parti- the addition of video. cipant has no prior knowledge of the conference Technologies: Videoconferencing is used to send call). information over a higher capacity channel, such as a - Setting a conference call for the same regular time permanent T1, fractional T1 line, or dial-up connection each day, week, month, or quarter. over ISDN. A special video controller at a central loca- - Recording and perhaps transcribing a call to tion takes the video signal from the source and feeds it paper. to the remote sites. - Faxing background information to participants Alternatives: Distribution of video tapes, travel to a prior to the call. central meeting, or the traditional “road show.” - Participating in side conferences. Added Value of Conferencing Services: The live nature of - Making a secure call, even to the point of the program enhances memory retention and supports excluding the conference services operator from immediacy goals by delivering new information while it the call. is still fresh. It also has cost and consistency benefits Technologies: A wide variety of technologies and over a road show. Finally, this alternative is very cost relationships are needed to enable these services. The effective and individuals who could not otherwise following sections discuss the pros and cons of providing participate can be included. these services internally within a company vs. using a conference services provider. 8 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 9
  • 7. Two Way Video/Audioconference Document Conference (Point-to-Point) Purpose: To allow two or more people to view, Purpose: To allow full two-way voice and videocon- collaborate on, or modify a computer-based document ferencing capabilities between two primary locations. at the same time while listening via an audioconference Examples: Conduct brief meetings which would connection. otherwise not be feasible if travel were required, or Examples: Collaborate in development processes, conduct candidate interviewing. team meetings, and share documents and images in Technologies: The same basic video and voice confer- real time. Prepare legal briefs, product descriptions, encing technologies are used. Video equipped PCs are proposals, or other documents that can be prepared on increasing in popularity and rapidly decreasing in a personal computer. Present information such as sales price. training and customer presentations remotely. Alternatives: Travel. Technologies: PC hardware and software for document Added Value of Conferencing Services: Immediacy and sharing, Internet browser, LAN, or modem for data cost reduction. connection, and telephones for audio call. Alternatives: Face-to-face meetings, faxes, overnight Videoconference—Multipoint mail, or courier services. Purpose: Full videoconferencing between multiple Added Value of Conferencing Services: Allows conferees locations. Each location can see and hear the other. to collaborate, prepare, or present multiple documents This is the most effective of conferencing services. in a timely and cost-effective fashion, providing reduced Examples: Distance learning, brief meetings other- cycle time, increased efficiency, and greater productivity. wise not feasible, research focus groups, corporate Travel cost and logistics often prohibit live collaboration. quarterly investor updates, and staff meetings. Conferencing services connect people from multiple Technologies: Video cameras, microphones, speakers, disciplines inside and outside the company when travel and other peripheral equipment (such as PC screen to traditional meetings would be too costly or difficult display devices and scanners to show 3D objects) to arrange. combined with special hardware and software show Enhance an audio conference call with a the party speaking on the full screen. document conference conducted via the Internet. Alternatives: Travel to central meeting. Increase participation and retention of information Added Value of Conferencing Services: Conferencing presented on a conference when parties connect up to services allow many different locations to be grouped a document conference using their standard Internet together quickly and cost effectively. The conferencing browser. services provider performs scheduling and allocates network resources. The provider may also provide other support services such as faxing background infor- mation prior to the conference or providing written transcripts of the conference and/or translation. 10 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 11
  • 8. Education Innovative Industry-Specific A combination of audio and videoconferencing Applications services allows for better use of faculty or paid/visiting lecturers with subject matter expertise, the coordination Vertical (or industry-specific) applications use the of educational activities, and the ability to hold multi- general application tools in an industry-specific appli- campus school classes. The audio/video multiple site cation, which occasionally require specialized hardware environment most closely duplicates the one-to-one or software. Some examples of vertical applications are feeling of traditional teaching. listed below: Legal Applications Medicine Conferencing services are used in every area of Medicine performed over a distance, (tele-medicine), the legal profession. Typical applications include taking allows patients to access remote specialists in specific depositions, collaborative document presentation/ areas such as oncology, cardiology, or neurology. These preparation, and video appearances before the judge applications require larger transport bandwidths to (negating the need to transport prisoners). Conferencing support the higher density medical images required for services reduce client costs by limiting travel, which correct diagnosis. allows attorneys to bill more time. Tele-medicine also leverages a doctor’s time by allowing him or her to perform outpatient diagnosis It’s Not Just For Big Business on home-bound patients without the need to travel. While historically viewed as business tools for large Special devices transmit medical information, such as corporations, (because of their cost and complexity), “vital signs,” to one or more medical specialists and smaller businesses are now using many conferencing allow a conference to be held with the patient. services. The full palette of conferencing services are Video and audio/video/data and image confer- offered to the general public, as well as big business, ences are all useful in medical applications. with attractive rates. With conferencing services, even the smallest companies can work more effectively and Investor Relations maximize their ability to serve their customers in a cost- Conferences can be used to announce earnings effective manner. or other information to shareholders and analysts. In today’s complex trading environment, investors and analysts must have access to complete, accurate, and timely information. Companies can use conferencing to simultaneously inform all of the key players. 12 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 13
  • 9. Matching the Conference though modern technologies also allow variable bit rate audio with a high degree of quality. Audio requires a Type to Your Need connection with very low delay and loss. The highest quality audio, and therefore the type used for most The following assists in matching the conference conferences, is regular Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) service to the customer application. One way to start dial-up, toll-quality Public Switched Telephone Network is with a “dream application,” such as full audio/ (PSTN) audio, which operates over a 64 Kbps dial-up video/ document conferencing and collaboration with connection. hundreds of people on five continents with simultaneous translation of multiple languages. However, it is usually Video better to design a sound, reasonable application, and Video data consists of moving pictures, either from consider the financial cost justification based on this a live camera feed or from pre-recorded video tape, or more realistic model. a combination of the two. It can include video clips from commercials, movies, prerecorded videos, and Decision Steps animation. Video communication has the same basic There are four steps to determine the required requirements as audio. conferencing services: The quality of the videoconference depends on the speed of the connection. An example of lower quality • Choose the types of information to be presented, video would be a grainy, black and white person-to- • Decide whether the presentation will be one-way person video connection that sends individual frames or interactive, very slowly intermixed with audio over a regular dial- up call. Higher quality video would be a full-motion, • Determine the number of conferees, and near broadcast quality connection at T3 speeds of 45 • Select any special features that might be required. Mbps. However, even with the highest bit rate video, distance impacts quality. Because of the delay of bits Types of Information traveling long distances, a video conference between New Jersey and New York is faster and more respon- Decisions regarding the best service to use are sive than a videoconference across the same bit rate based on the customer application requirements. The connection from New Jersey to Italy. following sections discuss these requirements. Image and Document Audio An image is a static picture that has been captured Audio is the foremost information format require- digitally and stored on a computer disk. Images range ment for conferencing services. Since telephones are from fairly small black and white images (in the 20 to available almost everywhere, very little special equipment 30 kilobyte range) to high density medical images of is required to establish the conference. Audio data can several megabytes. be human speech, sounds, music, movie, TV commer- , Data includes image files, word processing documents, cial soundtracks, or any other audible information. It is spreadsheets, and drawings. Image and document considered to be a “constant bit rate” type of service, 14 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 15
  • 10. connections are considered to be very “bursty” con- conferences based on a logical grouping such as time nections because network bandwidth is not required zone, sales region, or country, are often preferable to full-time for data and image communications. Since it very large conferences. is not necessary to constantly exchange files during a conference, the bandwidth is often idle. Some data/ Choose Special Services imaging conferencing systems exchange an entire file, or a view of it, only once and then transmit updates. In After the basic format of the conference is deter- this way, changes made to the file during the conference mined, the details can be refined further by selecting or collaboration can be seen quickly by all parties while special services. See “Audioconference with Special the transmission time is kept to a minimum. Requirements” earlier in this Guide for a description of the available special services. Conferencing Combinations In many cases, a single conference type is sufficient, (such as audio only). However, when a combination of services is needed, you can choose the required combi- How Conferencing Works nation and pick a product or service provider on that basis. Conferencing combines many elements of audio, video, and data networking. The specific elements depend on the types of conferencing involved. One-Way or Interactive The next step is to determine if the information Video Encoder/Decoder type will be one-way or interactive. The interactive A codec (encoder/decoder) digitizes and compresses information flow type, and number of conferees, are outgoing video and audio from the cameras and micro- closely interwoven and both have an effect on cost. It is phones. The composite signal can also be encrypted also possible to combine one-way and interactive. For for purposes of security. The codec then passes the instance, a combination may allow several members of information either to an inverse multiplexer, which a committee to have an interactive meeting while other combines several signals for transmission (perhaps an interested parties listen in. aggregate of 56k circuits), or directly transmits the information over a broadband communications circuit, Number of Conferees such as a T1. On the receiving end, a codec decom- presses the incoming video and audio for display and The actual number of conferees varies by confer- playback. ence type. The number of conferees for a broadcast conference can be almost without limit, while fully Video Camera interactive, collaborative conferences in which a docu- The video camera is usually mounted above the ment is updated on-line must be limited in size. The monitor. Most cameras feature an auto-focus lens, number of conferees should be large enough to include remote-controlled pan, and tilt and zoom features all interested parties, but not too large to destroy the operated from the control panel. These features allow effectiveness of the interchange. Multiple smaller 16 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 17
  • 11. the operator of the control panel to focus the camera circuit, such as a T1 or fractional T1. Videoconferencing on the principal speakers or view the entire room. usually requires a minimum bandwidth of 112 Kbps. This provides sufficient quality for most business needs. Video Monitor The resolution and refresh rate is not broadcast quality, The video monitors are usually large, (35 inches but is usually sufficient for most applications. Higher or more), to ensure good visibility throughout the quality transmissions with finer resolution and faster room. When a facility has multiple monitors and refresh rates can be achieved with as little as 384K cameras, participants in multiple sites can be shown. (3 BRI ISDN connections), although a T1 bandwidth If the monitors have picture-in-a-picture capability, an (1.544 Mbps) two T1 circuits, one in each direction, inset may show another view of the room, a document, allow virtual broadcast quality two way transmissions. or object. Showing a document also requires a docu- This capability can be provided through switched ment/object viewer. service, dedicated T1, or through Primary Rate ISDN. Systems of this type, coupled with sophisticated video Document/Object Viewer compression technology, can provide high levels of A document/object viewer is similar to an over- quality. head projector, with a camera connected to the video conferencing system. Multipoint Control Unit A multipoint control unit (MCU) is a device in the Tabletop Microphones and Speakers center of the group of lines that connect multiple sites Tabletop microphones capture voices and other of an audio, video, or document conference. A multi- sounds from the room for transmission to sites partici- point control unit may adhere to international standards pating in the conference. Speakers in the room allow such as the International Telecommunications Union local participants to hear the voices and sounds from (ITU) H.320 standard, which allows connecting up to other sites. Since the range of most microphones is 30 simultaneous sites per conference, or one of several usually only 1-2 feet, several other microphones must proprietary vendor-specific algorithms and be placed around the conference table. architectures. The Control Panel Video Compression The control panel provides fingertip control for all There are many different video and image com- operations, including system power up, dialing, video pression techniques. The predominant ones are H.320, source switching, camera controls, and volume adjust- JPEG, MPEG, and DigiCipher. JPEG was initially ment. The control panel may also contain a tabletop developed to compress still images and is often used in microphone. video teleconferencing systems where packet losses due to network congestion is high. JPEG can accomplish Communications Circuit approximately a 6:1 compression efficiency. A communications circuit can be one or more dial- MPEG I and MPEG II are intended for compres- up digital telephone lines; either multiple switched 56K sion of video rather still images. They were developed digital circuits, Basic Rate ISDN, or a single dedicated as extensions to JPEG and form the basis for most of 18 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 19
  • 12. the next generation video services and storage. suppliers, and other outside parties, it may be necessary Depending on the nature of the video image, (how to choose a conferencing service that can provide inter- much movement whether its color is black and white, operability between various manufacturers’ products. etc.), it is possible to obtain from 3:1 to 4:1 compres- sion. (DigiCipher is a proprietary subset of MPEG II How easy is the system to use? What is the and is used in most cable television set-top decoders.) learning curve? If the services are internally managed and used, Document Sharing Software in-house training and support are required for the Software that allows collaborative work on docu- chosen conferencing products. This can be quite chal- ments is available today. The newest and perhaps most lenging, particularly in organizations that do not have exciting of this software is the real time collaboration an in-house technical capability. If an external service software products, based on the T.120 standard. These provider is used, the training problem is simplified products allow two or more individuals, who might also significantly. Audioconferencing is easy to implement be on a voice conference call simultaneously, to modify internally, but video and document conferencing may require an outside service provider to facilitate imple- a common document. mentation. There is no special software needed for those conference attendees who want “view only” capabilities Who will provide service, support, and during a document conference. With a standard management? Internet browser, attendees can join a document If conferencing is to be provisioned and managed conference, via the Internet, and have access to the internally, the overhead costs for service, support, and same information as those with document conference management must be considered. These costs include software. equipment, space, special training, personnel costs, and potential delays. Also consider the cost for providing special services, such as transcription, translation, and conference recording which might be needed in your Putting Conferencing environment. to Work for You What about cost? Cost considerations include the initial cost of hard- The first decision when considering putting confer- ware and software in addition to the recurring or per encing services to work is the traditional buy or build minute charges associated with using the system, decision. Questions to be answered in this buy or build including maintenance and support. In many cases, a decision include the following. service provider can provide lower overall costs than even the largest corporation or organization. Will conferencing be internal only or include outside participants? What is the ubiquity of coverage? Is service If the conference is for internal use only, it can be available everywhere it is needed? If not, can fairly easy to assure compatibility between services and it be provided by the private organization or is products. However, to include customers, contractors, a service provider required? 20 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Technology Guide • 21
  • 13. In many cases, a large service provider with a global presence can provide one-stop-shopping for Case Study Analysis conferencing services at a lower cost than even the largest private organizations. With an understanding of conferencing services and issues already established, following is a sample How are new facilities added? What is the lag scenario with, and without conferencing services. The time in building facilities? How can stress on scenario is a product roll-out for the hypothetical existing resources be alleviated? company, Techno Inc.’s, new Rack Mountable Unit If the conferencing services are built internally, you 100 (RMU 100). A quick financial comparison will be must consider how difficult it is to add new facilities, provided as well. and the associated costs. You must also determine the costs to bring the new site into the network and the Before Conferencing costs and issues associated with expanding existing facilities. Product specifications, mock-ups of marketing literature, samples of advertisements, and some proto- types of the new Rack Mountable Unit 100 (RMU 100), Techno Inc.’s office was always very hectic prior How to Select a to a product rollout. The RMU 100 product line manager had become accustomed to working in this Conferencing Service Provider harried and disorganized environment. The RMU 100 was due to be announced and A conferencing service provider must be recog- it was time to plan the product roll-out. The product nized as a quality organization within the industry, manager had planned to initiate the roll-out in the must be cost competitive, and must provide a full range same manner in which it had historically been of desirable services available on a broad domestic and performed. He dug through stacks of files and phone international basis. Another important aspect of messages from field sales people and sales managers choosing a service provider is to determine if it is a and finally located the previous roll-out plan. He would technology leader or a follower. A close analysis shows use this as a template for the roll-out as well. The that networkMCI Conferencing, the sponsor of this product manager was able to change the product Technology Guide, is just such a company. While it’s name, dates, and use the same schedule. Of course, not the only company providing such services, MCI this would require extensive travel. can offer the right combination of innovative products, services, interoperability, support, management, global coordination, and billing options to meet the needs of virtually all consumers of conferencing services. 22 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Case Study • 23
  • 14. The RMU 100 Product Roll-Out Schedule With Conferencing Prepared: May 1, 1995 The office is organized and running smoothly Product Roll-Out Target Start: September 4, 1995 despite the pending roll-out schedule. Techno Inc.’s 8/11 Prepare, print, and mail data sheets, pricing. Rack Mountable Unit 100 product manager is making 8/15 Ship sample TTU 100 Units for Road phone calls and putting finishing touches on the Show: 1/show. product roll-out campaign. He has drafted a skeleton product roll-out plan for the RMU 100 on the white 9/4 - ROAD TRIP: board in his office. It looks something like this: 9/4-9/15 North America (PM and Assist. PM) 9/4 San Francisco (12 Local Persons/9 Imports) Preparation: 9/5 Los Angeles (10 Local/7 Imports) Day 1: Fax product information, sample data sheets, 9/6 Dallas (15 Local/19 Imports) and pricing to field. 9/7 Atlanta (7 Local/14 Imports) Videoconference and Product Demonstrations: 9/8 New York (21 Local/6 Imports) Day 2: North America (San Francisco, Los Angeles, 9/8-9/10 WEEKEND IN NEW YORK Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Chicago, 9/11 Boston (14 Local/5 Imports) Denver) 9/12 Chicago (21 Local/27 Imports) Day 3: PAC Rim (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, 9/13 Denver Sydney, Melbourne) 9/14 RETURN TO SAN FRANCISCO Day 4: Europe (London, Paris, Frankfurt , Zurich) 9/18-9/27 Pacific Rim (Assist. Product Manager) 9/18 Tokyo (10 Local) By using videoconferencing with two-way audio 9/20 Hong Kong (11 Local) and document conferencing for going over additional 9/22 Singapore (21 Local) written material on the conference, the product roll- 9/22-9/24 WEEKEND IN SINGAPORE out could be done globally in three days, allowing all 9/25 Sydney (5 Local/18 Imports) conferees to ask the product manager questions directly, 9/27 RETURN TO SAN FRANCISCO rather than having to rely on the less qualified assistant 9/18-9/23 Europe (Product Manager) product manager, also allowing the sales team to get 9/18 London (42 Local) out into the marketplace more quickly than non- 9/19 Paris (14 Local) conference alternatives. Pre-faxing material the day 9/20 Frankfurt (11 Local) before the first conference assured that the most up-to- 9/21 Zurich (13 Local) date material was in the hands of the conferees and 9/23 BACK IN SAN FRANCISCO avoided printing and mailing delays and costs. The product manager split the travel responsibilities Financial Comparison with the assistant product manager. This way it was possible to do the RMU product roll-out by the end of In the first example, there are the obvious costs, the month world-wide, to allow the field to see the new which are summarized below, but there are also less RMU-100, to do a presentation and demonstration, tangible costs: For example, the effects of business travel and to answer questions interactively from the field. on the product manager and assistant product manager, the difficulties in doing follow-up due to their extended 24 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Case Study • 25
  • 15. time out of the office, and the long time from product announcement until the time the field sales force is able Glossary to properly sell the product (almost one month). In the following financial analysis, the travel costs Audioconferencing—Teleconferencing method used for remote employees to come to a central site for the mostly by audio communications channels such as tele- presentation are not considered, because they must phone lines provided by a telecommunications company come to the district or regional office for either a video- interconnecting the various parties. conference or a meeting, except Melbourne, an office large enough to extend the videoconference. Bandwidth—(1) A range of frequencies between two defined limits expressed in cycles per second, or hertz Before With (Hz). It is also the information carrying capacity of a Conferencing Conferencing circuit. (2) The expression of the carrying capacity of Print, copy and mail 12 page $ 500 N/A info. package for local the transmission line. In a digital transmission, the band- duplication and distribution: width is the range of transmission rates at which infor- 8 US, 4 PAC Rim and 4 Europe mation can be sent in a particular medium. The band- Pre-fax 12 page info. pkg. N/A $98 width is expressed in kilobits per seconds or megabits Ship 14 RMU-100s: $ 12,240 N/A per second (Mbps). (3) The capacity of a transmission shipping and customs channel. Travel Time and Expense (Food, airfare, car rental, Bridge—Device for the interconnection of telecon- hotel, etc.) ferencing systems and communications lines in a multi- 11 US Travel Days $ 8,250 N/A point session. A bridge is called an audio bridge in 9 PAC Rim Travel Days $ 18,000 N/A 6 Europe Travel Days $ 9,000 N/A audio-conferencing and a multipoint control unit in 26 Person Days Out of Office $ 14,000 N/A videoconferencing. The bridge can be an analog or a 90 Min. Videoconference: Bridging Transport Total digital device. An essential component of an audio- 8 US Locations N/A $ 720 $ 288 $1,088 conferencing system, the bridge also balances the signal 4 European Locations N/A $ 360 $ 752 $1,112 levels of the audio transmission, reduces noise, and 5 Pac Rim Locations N/A $ 450 $ 1,179 $1,629 minimizes echo. Travel Savings for Melbourne Sales Team (18) N/A $3,749- Circuit—A physical, metallic path used for two-way TOTALS: $61,990 $178 communications between two or more points. Codec—A videoconferencing system component that Cost Savings: processes incoming and outgoing audiovisual signals in terms of coding and compression. While not representative of every case, this example contains many of the elements facing global Coding or Compression—A technique used to companies and can be used for comparative purposes.1 reduce the amount of space taken up by data during transmission. 1 The costs and rates included in this brief example are estimates only. Actual conference should be obtained from the conference server provider. European and Digital—The transmission of discontinuous signals in Pac Rim Transport prices are regional averages, individual countries may vary. which information is encoded in binary form. 26 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Glossary • 27
  • 16. Document Conferencing—A conferencing tech- NOTES nology that enables customers to review a document and collaborate with others, right from their computer using either analog and modem dial-up or existing Internet accesses (LAN, dial-up, etc.) Hz—Hertz. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)— An international standard developed for transmitting voice, data, and video simultaneously over digital lines. These lines run at 64 kilobits per second. ITU—International Telecommunication Union (telecommunications standards division). JPEG—Joint Photographic Experts Group. Kbps—Kilobits per second. LAN—Local area network. Mbps—Megabits per second. MCU—Multipoint control unit. Multipoint—The connection of more than two locations to affect a teleconference, as opposed to only point-to-point connections. PBX (Private Branch Exchange)—A private phone system existing within an organization that allows communication within the organization by dialing an extension and outside the organization by dialing “9” and then the number. PC—Personal computer. PSTN—Public Switched Telephone Network. 28 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Notes • 29
  • 17. NOTES NOTES 30 • Audio, Video and Document Conferencing Notes • 31
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