From VeaMea, the software to trust when secure, reliable communication matters.
Ofer Shapiro, the CEO of videoconferencing vendor Vidyo, recently wrote an open letter to Wainhouse Research on Vidyo's blog. It commented on a Wainhouse report relating to Cisco's future architecture and congratulated Wainhouse for saying that Cisco, and the rest of the industry are finally waking up and following Vidyo's lead. (You decide if you agree with that spin).
The problem is that Vidyo has developed a new way to do the same old thing.
Replacing a hardware MCU with a "Vidyo Router" doesn’t solve the REAL problem, which is improving people’s ability to collaborate in an intuitive and cost effective way.
Where are Vidyo and others missing the boat?
- Presence -- Presence is a buddy list that shows who you are connected to and whether or not they are currently available. We all owe a debt to ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, Skype, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and others who created a consumer expectation of Presence, and being able to reach out to a contact with one click. People now bring that expectation to work and enterprise communication platforms need to catch up.
- Escalation -- If you have Presence and the ability to engage at different levels: starting with text chat, moving to audio, immersive video, app sharing, white board sharing, etc. depending on what makes sense for each particular interaction, you have an effective solution and what VeaMea believes will drive “Videoconferencing 3.0.”
- One Solution -- A friend often tells me that Polycom and Tandberg can do everything that VeaMea can. The difference is that we put everything into one package with one interface. Other solutions tend to use a cafeteria approach that makes users learn multiple interfaces, and IT support a patchwork of boxes.
- Interoperability -- To roll out a business grade solution, you need to leverage the existing network and desktop assets, to interoperate with traditional H.323 videoconferencing, phone systems and LDAP, have strong security and IT management tools, and increasingly to operate on a variety of tablet and mobile clients. Not a lot of organizations want to throw out everything they have now and migrate to a new platform. More often, adoption is an evolution than a revolution.
To be successful, any company has to focus its product on the core business problem it is trying to solve -- in this case to make it easy for people to communicate in a natural and "in person" fashion despite distance -- and not fall in love with its particular technical implementation, because the technology changes rapidly.
A recent report by the state of Wisconsin on physician shortages focused on ways to increase the supply of doctors in the state to meet projected needs.
A UK Department of Health study shows that telemedicine can reduce mortality by 45%.
Both articles seem to miss the real point.
The UK study also found TeleHealth can deliver:
- a 15% reduction in emergency room visits
- a 20% reduction in emergency admissions
- a 14% reduction in elective admissions
- a 14% reduction in bed days
- an 8% reduction in tariff costs
If you never took an Economics course, go take one. If you have taken one, you should know that equilibrium in the medical system will be a function of the supply of doctors and the demand for services.
The conventional logic is that our population is aging, and that with aging comes increased use of medical services. Therefore, we need more doctors to be available. Our system is already short on certain types of doctors in certain places, so there is a crisis brewing to train more doctors.
What if doctors become more productive through application of technology ?
Electronic Medical Records are one area that has gained a lot of attention and a lot of push from the Federal Government in hopes of saving time, money and improving patient outcomes.
A quick look at the UK study, and the Wisconsin report and you can envision a world where telehealth allows the doctors we have to see and treat more patients than the doctors do today. Telemedicine is an enabling technology that makes the doctor more productive in the same way that desktop computers have made office workers more productive over the past 20 years.
If a doctor can see 20 patients per day instead of 15, you have made her 33% more productive. If the population of doctors were able to serve 33% more patients, no one would be writing reports about shortages.
Is 33% productivity improvement due to telehealth technologies realistic? For doctors who travel to outlying clinics, or who are sub-specialized, 33% may be an understatement. But 33% is just a number I made up. The real number should be constructed, as part of a business case that defines what TeleMedicine will be used for, how much it will cost to implement and maintain, and what the projected benefits are.
Doctors should be thought of like any other precision asset. You want them to have a high utilization rate (or percent of time they are doing billable work), and the more you use them, the more you spread their fixed cost and thus the lower the total cost per unit of their time.
So if telemedicine can deliver results like those shown in the UK study, an individual doctor can be more productive, AND cost less per patient they see. As if that were not good enough in a world straining its healthcare resources, patient outcomes improve as well.
We have yet to see any video conferencing professionals, or VTC users wearing I "heart" Echo T-shirts, most likely because echo is one of the most distracting, annoying and in some cases hard to stop challenges in today's video communication systems. Whether you are using a high end echo suppression system in a board room or a $2 mic you got in a cereal box, echo can present itself and make every thought you express an interruption of the next one you are trying to formulate.
So, how can you stop echo ? We provided a high level set of steps in a previous post: Top 5 Ways to Stop Echo on Your Videoconference.
Echo in a video conference is caused when sound coming out of the speakers is picked up by the microphone and presented to the rest of the callers as if it were live rather than a "replay" of what was just said. Echo is a bigger problem now as more systems use full duplex audio (i.e. both parties can talk at the same time) so conversations feel more natural. Using full duplex means that your video conferencing system needs to be smart enough to figure out what is real speech and what is a replay.
A great way to stop echo is through the use of an Echo Cancelling Microphone (ECM) which provides speakers, microphones and often includes software onboard to make sure that the live speech and the replays are sorted out properly.
But even an ECM can be fooled. We noticed recently that even with an ECM attached, some desktop PCs were generating echo. Investigating in the Windows Control panel, we found that more than one active recording device was picking up audio. By disabling the "extra" recorder and speakers that were not part of the ECM, the echo vanished.