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Video-Conferencing Interoperability:

What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

2nd December 2020

This article is written by Julie Adams, a Communication & Content Specialist at DisplayNote.

Interoperability: you may or may not be familiar with the word, but you’re probably familiar with the concept. Microsoft Exchange talks to Gmail. Vodaphone talks to Telefonica (02). But Zoom still can’t speak to Teams, and neither can Teams talk to Webex. Or to any other video-platform for that matter. Why? Because video-conferencing still isn’t interoperable.

What Does Interoperability Actually Mean?

Interoperability is the property that allows the unrestricted sharing of resources between different systems. This can refer to the ability to share data between different components or machines, both via software and hardware. It can also be defined as the exchange of information and resources between different computers through local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs). In a nutshell, Interoperability is the ability of two or more components or systems to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.

Let’s break it down further...

There are Two Types of Interoperability:

1. Syntactic Interoperability - where two or more systems can communicate and exchange information, regardless of their language or interfaces.

2. Semantic Interoperability - when the information exchanged between two or more systems is understandable, i.e., the data is meaningful.

    This applies to video-conferencing in that the two systems (for example, Zoom and Teams) are unable to communicate or share information with each other - meaning you have to use one or the other.

    Why Does Interoperability Matter in the Workplace?

    Let me paint the picture: you’re all gathered together in a huddle space for an important call with a client at 2 pm, all set up and ready to go. But hang on - the client calls from a Zoom Room - you’re gathered together in a Teams Room. What happens? No call.

    Interoperability in the workplace means efficient automated data sharing between applications, databases, and systems. The benefits of this include increased productivity, reduced errors, and lowered costs.

    When it comes to video, a lack of interoperability across the conferencing platforms is a significant pain-point for IT Administrators and end-users alike. IT Admins have to deal with the chaos of managing multiple platforms while monitoring the threat of Shadow IT platform use.

    What is Shadow IT Platform use, you ask?
    When employees use hardware or software in an organization without the knowledge or oversight of IT or security teams, given the rapid transition to cloud-based computing and personal device use in the last few years, it’s easy to see how this can come about. While employees using other technology isn’t inherently malicious, it does leave organizations open to security breaches, more help queries, and a lack of a unified digital strategy.

    For end-users (i.e., employees) - a lack of interoperability in video-conferencing means reduced productivity, more technical issues, and less effective meetings. Historically, this might not have been such an issue, but considering 48% of the global workforce transitioned to working from home by April this year, it is now.

    With 3 in 4 expressing a preference for a mix of home and office work - video-conferencing isn’t going anywhere. It’s here for the long haul. And businesses need to be equipped for seamless and hassle-free video-conferencing - whatever the platform is.

    The big companies have picked up on this: namely Teams and Zoom. As of this year, you can now launch a Zoom call from a Teams Room - but with a myriad of other video-conferencing platforms out there, we’re still not seeing full interoperability the way we’d like to.

    The Hybrid Meeting Room

    In recent years, BYOD or Bring Your Own Device has been an instrumental component of many organizations’ digital strategies. As BYOD allows employees to work with the tools they are comfortable and familiar with, it provides more autonomy and control around the way they work. Ultimately, this improves flexibility and accessibility in the workplace.

    77% of people using video conferencing use a laptop or desktop computer for their calls, compared with 31% who join from their mobile

    As BYOD has grown in popularity, so too has BYOM (Bring Your Own Meeting). BYOM refers to technology that allows you to use your own device with the hardware already in the meeting room (rather than relying on pre-configured meeting room systems for wireless presentation, videoconferencing, app launching, etc.). An example - you can walk into any huddle space and launch your scheduled Zoom video call from your phone.

    It’s easy to see the merits of having BYOM-enabled meeting spaces - it navigates around the historical issues of rigid meeting schedules and technology. Teams can collaborate quickly with those both inside and outside of the business, whatever video-platform they choose to use.

    Going forward, hybrid working will become normalized. Some employees are working from the office, others working from home. Technology is going to play a vital role in carving out what the new hybrid workspace looks like.

    Interoperability and The Future Meeting Room

    With Launcher meeting room software, you can walk into any UC-equipped meeting room and instantly launch your calls. With our solution installed, meeting spaces can accommodate whatever video-conferencing software your teams or clients prefer to use: Webex, Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, Skype for Business, Lifesize...you get the idea. Launcher makes your meeting room interoperable.

    With Launcher’s kiosk mode, Administrators are in complete control of what appears on the screen - eliminating the issue of Shadow IT platform use. Rooms are set-up and customized to work with the platforms and applications you choose.

    Plus, with the Launcher mobile app - users have one-touch access to their calls, calendars, and content at the touch of a button.

    Bring interoperability to your meeting room with a free trial of Launcher

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