Bring Simplicity to Your Conference Room Experience

In Part 1

In the first part of this series, we’ll complete a quick review of considerations for collaboration, and then we’ll dig into ways user experience can be improved with each instance of the series.

Changing Landscapes

Travel is one area where many companies are looking to make cuts to save something precious…. Time! I bet you thought I was going to say money, didn’t you?

Whether it’s time spent on a plane, in an airport, or even the morning commute, the result is the same: lost productivity. A 2017 Gallup study found that 51% of employees would switch to a job that allows flextime and 37% would switch to a job that allows remote work, even part of the time. Overall 31% of Gen-Xers and 40% of Millennials place high value on a healthy work-life balance and flexible work.

As the work landscape changes so goes the office landscape. Furthermore, as less travel means more remote meetings, so does having a remote workforce. An ever-increasing amount of work is occurring with collaboration tools, be they instant message or personal video at the desk, or in conference and huddle rooms around the office. The demand for these work environments has created a new trend: huddle space within personal workspaces. (Look for more on this in future blog posts)

Technology is Great, But What if No One Uses It?

This shift in how we work hasn’t come without its challenges. We see rooms that have so many buttons crammed into a Crestron control panel that it could land the shuttle on the moon, but no one knows how to even make a call.

persona non-grata

Mission control. Persona non grata.

As conference rooms become more feature-rich with high definition video and studio-quality audio, managing the user experience and all of the technology is incredibly important.

Peas in a Pod

Cisco’s video endpoints were made for Webex, the workflow and experience are consistent across all platforms, and Cisco continues to build bridges between their platform and others, like Microsoft. Whether using a web app, smartphone, or video-enabled room, joining a meeting is always the same. Buttons, menus, and meeting capabilities are all intuitive and uniform.

Constant development means enhancements are added on a regular, usually monthly, basis. For example, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) via Webex Assistant, you can walk into a conference room and simply speak to the equipment to start your meeting for you. Yes, of course this is also a future blog post!


Some things just go together.

UX Improvement #1: Stop Typing!

What’s that, you’ve deployed Webex? Don’t stop there! One of the most under-used features, but easily one of the most useful, is One Button To Push. If you’re not quite ready to turn on AI, you should at a minimum use OBTP.

When it is time for your meeting, scheduled conference room systems will be expecting you. Your meeting title is on the television screen (or not, if you want privacy) and a big green button warmly invites you to press it to be automatically joined to the meeting. No fumbling with typing in a video address, or looking up dial-in numbers with lengthy meeting codes.

You’d be surprised by how many companies haven’t taken advantage of this easy to deploy feature. OBTP offers the most bang for the buck from a user experience perspective.


Improve User Experience (UX) with OBTP

During my time as a Collaboration Consultant I’ve seen and heard a lot of things that will make you go “hmmm”. One example of this is companies that post an IT person in business meetings for the sole purpose of operating the equipment. Yes, you read that right, I said companies – plural. As a CIO or IT Director you can imagine the money that is being drained from your budget to support this activity!

One key component to solving this entire conundrum is using endpoints featuring the high-quality experience but are specifically designed to be easy to use. Vendors like Cisco have made it their chief goal to offer a superb user experience across their entire line of collaboration products. But are you using this equipment to its full potential? Often, I find that companies are not taking advantage of some simple things that enhance user experience and satisfaction.

Premise-Registered Endpoints

At the core of this feature is Cisco’s Telepresence Management Suite (TMS). TMS reads the calendar information for each room system’s “resource mailbox” in Microsoft Exchange (or Office 365) using an app called TMS-XE – the Exchange Extension.

When XE sees a new Webex meeting for the resource mailbox, it creates an entry in TMS’s database containing the meeting details such as title, start/end time, as well as the Webex video address information.


TMS and TMS-XE architecture for OBTP

TMS creates an XML file (the Booking List) which it sends to the room systems participating in the meeting. When it’s time for your meeting, the room system control panel (Touch 10) displays the meeting details and the green join button on the touch panel for your convenience!

There is little or no change to train your users on their scheduling workflow. Users continue to schedule meetings in Outlook, add Webex via Productivity Tools or “@webex”, and book the room as before.

Cloud-Registered Endpoints

If you’ve already fully embraced the cloud by registering your video endpoints in Webex Control Hub, you have it easy! OBTP is available to you “right out of the box” by simply setting up the Calendar service and toggling the calendar feature to ON for an assigned person or place within the Cisco Control Hub. The cloud-based Calendar service also gives you the ability to integrate with Google calendar.

OBTP Prerequisites

If you have Cisco video systems that are “registered” on-premise to Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Expressways, you’ll need Cisco’s Telepresence Management Suite (TMS) software package. If your endpoints register to the cloud, just turn on the feature in Control Hub and you’re ready to go.

If you’re not sure which you have, or how to configure your premise or cloud settings, we can help!


Cloud OBTP architecture


OBTP is a great way to give your IT team an easy win by lowering your IT support requirements and looking like a rock star to your user community.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve deployed OBTP, issues or success you’ve had, or what questions you may have about the feature!

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