If you’re one of the 100+ million business users of Skype for Business, then you are already familiar with the way that it has transformed the way we do business. Business meetings no longer take hours of travelling, collaboration does not mean always being in the same room as each other and organising a meeting with multiple people no longer requires the help of a dedicated PA.
You can now connect to colleagues using instant messaging, voice calls or video and share screens with each other to show or see what others are working on. You can invite people to join a meeting at the touch of a button (and easily see if they are free or in another session) and benefit from integrating communications with the rest of your Microsoft Office applications. Let’s face it Skype For Business is brilliant. But what happens when you get into a meeting room?
Using AV equipment with Skype For Business
One quick solution is to simply plug a good quality video camera and speaker / audio system into your laptop. The great thing about this is it is a cost-effective way to deliver high quality video conferencing . If you have a meeting room set up with the right hardware, users can take their laptop and plug in to the various elements to create a Skype For Business conference room. A solution like the Logitech range of conferencing equipment will give you great quality video and sound, all at an affordable price. On the downside, it can take time, and a certain amount of technical confidence to get the equipment set up. But if you want something that is all set up ready for you there is another option…
Meeting Room Systems for Skype
If you want to simply walk into a meeting room and have Skype for Business available at the touch of a button, then Microsoft have partnered with various companies to provide Meeting Room Systems that integrate with Skype. The SMART Room System is one such option which comes complete with touch screen display integrated cameras and speakers and remote control. Microsoft have even developed their own meeting room solution, the Microsoft Surface Hub which is another touch screen display but with integrated PC, annotation software, cameras and speakers which is a perfect partner for collaborating whilst using Skype for Business. But what if you don’t need the expense and complexity of touch screens, real-time edits and annotations and all of the other incredible features of these solutions? What do you do if you simply want the simple voice and video conferencing features of using Skype for Business in a meeting room?
Starleaf + Skype for Business
You can now use third-party solutions to bring the familiarity and usability of Skype for Business into your meeting room. Hardware like the Starleaf GTm 5250 is a complete video conferencing system that registers directly to your Skype for Business server, providing the familiar functionality of Skype via the Starleaf Touch controller and advanced codec / endpoint. The solution provides HD video and audio and supports up to three cameras, two microphones and one or two screens, so it is ideal for small medium or large meeting rooms. Or if you have a huddle room or huddle space, a solution like the Starleaf 5140 Huddle, provides a similarly high quality solution, which is designed for smaller spaces. Starleaf is a great product because it just works. There’s no fiddly wires and set up and no expensive additional hardware or touchscreens. And by providing a simple solution for using Skype for Business in your meeting room, you can get real value for money from your Skype investment and ultimately a much faster return.
What about interoperability?
One of the big challenges of using Skype for Business is things can get tricky when you need to connect with someone on a different conferencing system. If you ever want to connect with someone on a traditional H.323 system like Polycom or Cisco then you will understand the challenges. There are various solutions to this involving multi-party connection units but by experience you will understand the time delay that is incurred from joining multiple systems together – and the complex nature of setting up such a call. To overcome this challenge there is now a free solution on the market called StarLeaf Medley which allows you to connect people using multiple systems in a seamless, stress-free connection. To find out more about this system, watch this free webinar which explains all of your options for interoperability for Skype for Business and how StarLeaf Medley can bridge the gap.
Choosing the Right System
The fact is that once you have invested in a system like Skype for Business, or if you are thinking about doing so, having the peace of mind that you can maximise your ROI by using it in every given circumstance is particularly reassuring. When choosing a third party solution, go for an option that is easy to use, cost effective and that is free from additional infrastructure or technical complexities. Skype For Business is the star of the show – but by enabling it to be used in a meeting room, you can take that show to Broadway!