Category Archives: IT

Ask the Expert – Unified Communications


Stay in the know by asking the expert.

Over the years we’ve heard so many new technology buzzwords – data science, cloud computing, internet of things, and the list goes on. Some have come and gone, while others become even more relevant as time goes on. The cloud and unified communications (UC) are two of them.  

Staying in the know, understanding these concepts, and knowing how they can positively impact your business are more important than ever. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our new webinar series, Ask the Expert. Each month we’ll sit down with an industry expert who can answer your top-of mind questions and provide valuable insights into the world of the cloud and UC.

 

Join us on Wednesday 3/14!

Because there’s so much to know when it comes to unified communications, and so many questions on the topic to be answered, we’ll be sitting down for a Q&A session with our very own UC expert, Kevin Bartnicki, this Wednesday, March 14th. Join us at 11am MT/1pm ET to learn about UC, find out how it can help your business, and get your questions answered.

Reserve your spot today – we hope to see you there!

 

3 scary things holding back collaboration at your company

Hair-raising horror movies, spookily decorated storefronts and ghoulish disguises galore: Halloween is nearly upon us, bringing its spine-tingling chills and thrills our way.

The frights of the holiday are all in good fun, but do you know what's truly terrifying? A company culture that stifles team work. That's because employees who put their heads together drive success. A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, a global business professor at Babson College, found that companies that encouraged collaboration were five times as likely to be high performing, according to Forbes. 

Don't miss your opportunity to be a top-performing company. Here are five scary things holding back collaboration at your organization: 

1. A lack of trust 

As executive development expert Michael Bunting noted in an article for CEO Magazine, trust is the heart of collaboration. Employees need to feel that they can share their thoughts, opinions and feedback with each other and their managers without fear of negative repercussions. If workers feel there is no sense of trust, they are more likely to be afraid to share unconventional ideas or suggest new ways of doing things that could prove to be incredibly beneficial. If your workplace is tainted by the poison apples of defensiveness and an "every man for himself" mentality, there's no way fruitful collaboration will ever happen.

2. A culture of fear

Fear belongs in haunted houses – not in the office. Productive collaboration depends on people being able to admit that they may not have the specific skill sets needed for a project and then reaching out to others who do possess these abilities. However, employees who are scared to look weak will never ask for help, according to a Medium article written by Ant Cousins, director of customer success at ProFinda. To create a culture of collaboration, management can reward employees who ask for help. 

3. Outdated technology 

Clunky TV monitors and landlines may have looked cool in "Poltergeist," but in a modern workplace, they're collaboration killers. Unified communications, hosted voice and video conferencing make holding meetings and sharing ideas across a workforce seamless and stress-free, no matter where its employees are located.

A lack of trust, a culture of fear and outdated technology: These three factors are downright scary in the way they prevent collaboration at your company. But by recognizing and then taking steps to change these factors, you can face your fears and create a more connected and productive workforce. 

What’s New with ReadyTalk’s Web Conferencing Platform?

A lot actually! It’s been an exciting few quarters here at ReadyTalk with a major focus on user experience, meeting quality and participant security. We completed two great projects that brought HTML5 and HD video capabilities to our core platform.

We refreshed our participant view with a more modern, intuitive and clean interface. This initiative moved us off Flash and onto an HTML5 based web browser client. You may have heard about Flash’s severe security flaws exposed in 2016. Highlights of our move to HTML5 and new participant interface include:

  • Participants no longer need to install Flash. HTML5 is standard in modern browsers
  • Participants can focus on the content with disappearing toolbars and a collapsible chat window
  • Animated notification when a chat message is received and the chat interface is closed
  • Improved settings menu to manage their audio connection and devices
  • Dynamic window resizing
  • VoIP using WebRTC technology which provides a high-quality audio experience

Since the HTML5 interface does not support Flash, our video conferencing solution got an update too! Enhanced video in core (EVC) utilizes new WebRTC technology. This allowed us to bring a variety of video upgrades to our customers and their participants. Highlights of EVC include:

  • Simultaneous viewing of up to 6 webcam feeds; Previously only 4 feeds could be seen at a time
  • Active speaker rotation that allows more than 6 participants to share their cameras, but select the 6 active speakers at any given time to be displayed
  • More control over size of webcam feeds for both hosts and participants with dynamic resizing
  • More seamless video streams with nearly no lag

I’m most excited about our UI updates in our Chairperson controls! Have you seen them yet? You’ll notice a fresher color palette, an updated look and feel, and a new Add Co-Presenter button making it that much easier to collaborate with your participants. Take a look when you have a moment and enjoy your next meeting!

Why Video Conferences are Helpful to IT Personnel

Are you more productive on a phone or video call? Do you prefer meeting with people face to face or via a quick phone conversation? As an IT professional, it’s vital to stay up to date with the latest technology and collaborative tools to improve internal and external communications at your organization. While conference calls and in-person meetings are effective in certain scenarios, video conferencing solutions can make IT personnel more effective at their job.

With the rise of the remote workforce and the evolving nature of workplace responsibilities, IT professionals feel more pressure than ever to ensure that all communication channels are operating properly. Just as marketing or sales teams can use video conferencing solutions to collaborate with their teams, IT personnel can use these tools to ensure all systems are functioning optimally. Here are a few more ways IT workers can leverage video conferencing at their organization

Proactively solve tech issues

While small companies often have a small in-house IT team, larger organizations usually have off-site or even remote IT staff to handle tech issues. Video conferencing tools allow IT personnel to communicate effectively about various system problems or concerns. If IT professionals are based in numerous locations, video tech support lets teams collaborate and proactively address tech issues before they grow out of hand.

Improve operational productivity

Obviously, video conferencing tools are perfect for cutting down travel expenses and connecting remote teams. Yet, some professionals believe these solutions can be even more efficient and promote more operational productivity than normal in-person meetings. While face-to-face meetings can easily devolve into friendly chitchat, video conferences often have a designated start and end time, with people dialing in from all over. This makes veering off a meeting’s set agenda less likely.

To improve communications as an IT personnel, consider ReadyTalk’s video conferencing services today!

Man in the Pi Castle

Pi Day comes but once a year, but what the heck is Pi Day?

March 14th, or 3/14, is the day that all the nerds eat pie (both pizza and dessert), and celebrate our nerd culture. Specifically, we use a tiny inexpensive computer called a Raspberry Pi to build fun, sometimes useful projects. We see everything from weather balloons, to tiny loop pianos, to magic mirrors.

At ReadyTalk, we celebrate this day by giving our engineers two workdays to build these projects followed by the opportunity to demo them to our fellow geeks. Of course, we can spend more time than that on the project, and many of us do. The winning team gets to spend the year lording it over their fellow engineers by displaying this amazing trophy.

Man In The Pi Castle – A Chess Playing Robot

While there was only one named victor (and holder of the trophy), the real winners were everyone who participated. Pi Day celebrates more than just a single winner; it gives everyone a chance to work together and showcase technology in a really fun manner. Those who spectated rather than demoed learn something from the experience as well: a new way to tackle a problem or a new application for a certain aspect of software (and sometimes hardware).

I was part of the team, Man in the Pi Castle, that took the trophy this year with our attempt at building a chess playing robot. This may seem overly ambitious for a two-day project…and it was. The team spent a month of spare time and 200+ hours on three separate 3D printers to get where we did on this project.

While it may not have actually played chess, the robot arm was able to move a piece on the 3D printed board. In addition, it has an AWS hosted UI, and a microservice architecture. You can see a more detailed write-up of the robot and the software in this blog article. The team will be posting additional detailed articles, and you can check out their code on github.

Takeways

ReadyTalk has always taken great pride in its people and culture. The Pi Day celebration was one of the best examples I have seen of that since I joined the team. There were so many amazing projects and almost the entire engineering team participated.

I encourage other companies to consider having a Pi Day celebration. The level of excitement and innovation that it produced at ReadyTalk were unparalleled. Going forward, we plan to have additional days of innovation around other topics, but Pi Day was by far the largest success I have seen from an event like this.

As one of my co-workers once said about a hackathon, “You could cut the synergy in there with a knife.”