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The Collaboration of Everything

By on May 9, 2014

Collaboration is the current buzz word of the audiovisual industry. I’ve always been a believer in “two-heads-are-better-than-one” rather than “one-person-has-all-the-answers”, and instead prefer to incorporate the best ideas from individuals into a group discussion.  In today’s collaborative environments, it’s not “I talk, you listen” but rather a “we” environment.  Collaboration is generally understood as the interaction of people working together, but in today’s technological world, collaboration is starting to include things.

Collaboration (noun) 1. the act of working with another or others on a joint project
Collaboration. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.

Technology now provides new opportunities for people to work together. Video conferencing is a great way for people to work from a distance. People can share information and talk while seeing their counterparts’ facial expressions and body language. What is changing in video conferencing is the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere. Traditionally, a videoconference system could only work with another like system. Many systems now work with many other videoconference systems as well as PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones. This has led to the rise of organizations implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy to increase timely collaboration.

Public video conference room networks make enterprise level collaboration available to anyone. Michael Levesque of Resolve Collaboration says: “The use of public video conference room networks enables companies to ensure the best quality conference experience. Although mobile devices are great for connecting with the kids or a quick call home, it can be cumbersome and distracting to try and conduct an hour long interview while trying to hold your tablet still. The enterprise quality studios provide a stable reliable video conference environment where the participants can focus on the conversation and the technology is transparent. These facilities are typically established in professional business settings which add a layer of professionalism over the BYOD experience.”

Audience Response Systems (ARS) will become more commonplace. In my view there are several reasons that ARS’s have been under-utilized. The hardware cost can be substantial. There is also a software learning curve to overcome before ARS can be implemented into one meeting. As these systems have become more cloud based, these boundaries can be managed better. Delegates can BYOD. This reduces the cost for implementing the ARS and delegates are comfortable using their own device. With a cloud based ARS, an organization can scale it to fit into more events. This makes it easier to integrate ARS a part of an organization’s ongoing meeting, training and conference communications strategy.

Boardrooms are also more interactive. Many monitors and projectors now have user-friendly interactive features that allow participants to wirelessly share their device screens. The interactive displays are the communication hub of many board and huddle rooms.

Many projectors now offer interactive software capabilities such as annotation. The Epson Pro G projector series includes a split screen capability so two sources can be displayed simultaneously. This can also be a good video conference display solution for larger rooms.

There are also many peripheral devices that support collaboration. For example: the ClickShare wireless presentation system has multiple dongles that enable multiple users to wirelessly connect simultaneously to a projector or monitor.

Often the BYOD devices are personally owned, hence the name BYOD.  Ironically, we used to think laptops were convenient and now they’re cumbersome to lug around. The employee can very easily bring their own device to wherever they will collaborate and connect with the room’s AV system.  Anyone who uses their own device must first become acquainted with how to connect their device for the purpose of a collaborative presentation. Grant McMechan, Inland AV Technical Services Manager, suggests not waiting until the last minute to learn how to connect. Plan ahead. If you need information, the quick and easy way to find out is to search the web as there are many offerings to answer your questions.

Cisco futurist Dave Evans talks about the “Internet of Everything”, where people and things are connected via the internet. Our person-to-person communication can now add things-to-persons and things-to-things communication. “Cisco predicts that $4.6 trillion of value will be at stake in the public sector alone over the next decade, driven by connecting the unconnected through the Internet of Everything.”

We will use increasingly new types of data, real-time data and lots of it. This will start with simple things like a sensor letting a recycling company know that a client’s bin is full and needs to be picked up. No longer will the client have to request a pick up or have a truck and crew needlessly provide a service when it is not required. The smart phone, smart workplace, smart home, smart car and many other “smart” things will soon join people in this art, science and craft of collaboration.


Ralph Niekamp, Inland AV Saskatoon General Manager addresses audiovisual considerations important to event planners. As a branch manager, Ralph brings a unique perspective as he is involved in permanent systems design, integration, and AV rentals applications.

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