David J. Danto
Principal Consultant, Collaboration/ AV / Multimedia / Video / UC
Director of Emerging Technology
Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance
The Right Tool For The Job
About thirty hours after coming out of ACDF surgery, I left the hospital to go home. Five days later my surgeon removed the dressing and said it wasn’t needed anymore. The next day I went out to dinner with my family. Yes, completely healing will take many more weeks, but the fact that I could get back into the game this quickly is a testament to the people who helped me and the tools they used. They had my neck open for about six hours, shifting stuff around as if they were moving-in and rearranging the furniture. If they had done the cutting and moving using barbecue tools or a spork I’m sure the outcome would not have been as good. Yes you can cut skin with a grill knife - it does cut - but you wouldn’t be happy with the results.
Using the “right tool for the job” is an essential part of any strategy for success. It is the difference between doing an excellent job and a poor one. That’s why it was so interesting and poignant when a headlining court trial recently made news as they tried to bring in testimony using Skype videoconferencing. Did the videoconference connect the two parties – yes. Was it adequate to meet the need? It was about as adequate as the spork in surgery.
Once the name of the Skype account was televised, a number of people unrelated to the trial began calling that account. The remote testimony was continuously blocked by pop-up notifications from the callers – to the point where the video had to be scrubbed. Were these callers idiots? Probably, but you can never deploy a system that assumes idiots will never show-up.
The incident showed a stunning lack of knowledge in that jurisdiction about the professional use of video technology. There were and are about a dozen other ways this trial could have employed a more appropriate solution for little or no cost. It also punctuates some frequent professional advice I give to organizations looking at collaboration tools – there is no single right answer, no single tool or application that can meet all of an organization’s needs. It’s all about the blend…
Skype in and of itself is fantastic. I use it all the time. When I’m on the road it helps me stay in touch with my family. Its critical limitation in this instance is that once someone “knows your number” (account name) they can call it. (I see this problem all the time. HR professionals like to do interviews over video nowadays, but once they’ve given out their Skype account name all the candidates have it – the ones that get the job and the ones that don’t.) Skype is simply not an effective tool when interruptions or failures would have real business impact, or when having one’s account name published is a bad idea.
The organizations I work with are advised to “lead with people, not technology.” Detail all the real organizational drivers for collaboration tools – including internal and external, employee and client, mission critical and nice to have – and create a matrix showing this actual user and use-case segmentation, being sure to speak with your actual users as part of the process. Only after that point do you even begin looking at solutions. Organizations may need immersive rooms, traditional room systems, desktop hardware and/or software systems, mobility solutions and / or related services. These options can run from multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars down to “free” with many choices in-between. No two organizations have exactly the same mix of needs. Picking the right blend for each organizations is the difference between excellent experiences and…well, doing surgery with a spork.
Feel free to drop me a note if your organization has been spork-ed enough and would like some advice and/or support on creating your collaboration strategy. I can even connect with you on Skype if that’s all you have today, but I’ll show you how to do it securely and privately.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over three decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works with Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.Danto@Dimensiondata.com or DDanto@imcca.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info. Please reach-out to David if you would like to discuss how he can help your organization solve problems or develop a future-proof collaboration strategy.