BYOD Video Conferencing Trends

In a previous article, I mentioned that there were technologies available to let participants wirelessly display their devices on the main screen(s) of a meeting space. This has been largely driven by a movement that has come to be referred to as BYOD. You have probably heard this term a thousand times before. If not, it stands for Bring Your Own Device, and it is a huge trend in Corporate America.

Overview

Essentially, this refers to users who bring their personal devices to their workplace (or university, etc). If you have any dealings with a company’s CTO/CIO or IT staff, you should be aware of the basic implications of this trend. From the corporate perspective, this means that where individuals may have previously had one laptop, they may now have 3-5 personal devices, with an expectation to access corporate resources on each one. This may not seem like a big deal, but managing security across all of these different types of devices (that were not issued by the company) is actually a huge deal.

An Exploding Trend

Regardless of IT concerns, this trend, which is more largely referred to as “consumerization of IT” is gaining momentum at an incredible rate and will not be stopped. As users find apps like Evernote, Google Hangouts, Dropbox , and they prefer, they will continue to move towards a workflow that meets their needs, instead of one that has been forced upon them by corporate policy. Enter BYOD.

BYOD Collaboration Systems

While the term BYOD in IT circles relates most specifically to the challenge of getting end-user devices securely registered on the network, in the AV world, the term refers to devices that allow wireless collaboration with these same devices.

The most typical model is that there is an app that a user downloads upon entering a meeting room and that app allows them to display their device on the main screen(s) along with other users. This can typically be either moderated or unmoderated. In unmoderated mode, everyone just throws their stuff up on the screen and there is shared control. This is simple and works fine for small groups. For unmoderated, there is a “chairperson” of sorts that grants permission for people to show their device on the screen.

There is one exception to the app download model that allows users to grab multiple USB “pucks”. Once you plug the puck into your computer, you are able to share content on the screen. The benefit of this model is that there are no apps that have to be downloaded before a user can show their screen. This may be beneficial, when you have strangers constantly coming into a meeting space, rather than repeat users.

It’s also worthwhile to point out that there is at least one manufacturer that makes this type of system specially designed for distance meetings. This means that you could have several locations of corporate collaboration spaces that could simultaneously be looking at content from all the different devices in all of those meeting rooms (in a way that would be acceptable to the IT security policies of 99% of organizations).

Two Applications of the Term

When we talk about BYOD video conferencing, there are really two aspects. The first is the type described above, where a traditional hardware conferencing solution is deployed, but users are able to wirelessly display their personal devices on a shared screen for the purpose of collaboration. This can be either handled via a dedicated system or can be a hardware interface connected to the presentation input of a traditional video conferencing solution.

The second application of BYOD video conferencing is where users are actually participating in the meeting on their wireless devices. This is an equally complex topic, that we will be covering in a future article. In addition to the complexities of BYOD security that we have already mentioned, these solutions add the increased complication that they often integrate multiple platforms with discrete protocols. These must be carefully considered to ensure that presence and other attributes of the call provide the same experience, regardless of platform or device. This can be a real challenge in highly integrated enterprise environments.

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