The push for personal video conferencing in the enterprise is clearly going to intensify in 2011. Skype has been leveraged by families globally to keep in touch with relatives, and now this level of personal communication has jumped from the desktop to mobile devices such as iPhones and Android phones as well. As with so many other technologies, as they take off with consumers at home, the clamor to have these tools at work intensifies.
For organizations that may have leveraged Sametime only for instant messaging in the past, now is the time to get ahead of the end-user clamor and begin piloting Sametime audio and video conferencing. With the introduction of Sametime 8.5, Sametime is now able to provide even high definition video for participants (if you have the bandwidth). But exciting video with poor quality audio is like Kung Fu Theater without the Kung Fu, so having a quality audio end-point makes a huge difference in user satisfaction.
That's where having quality headsets like those developed by Plantronics comes in, and your organization can try them out for free as part of a Sametime pilot by registering for their Sounds for Sametime program.
Plantronics makes a wide variety of headsets to fit different user needs. For those on a tight budget, you can use one of their corded headsets. For mobile professionals, they offer the Voyager Pro. It's a bluetooth headset that will pair with your PC as well as your mobile device, making it easy to receive calls on your mobile, or have it automatically switch to your PC when receiving a Sametime call. This is what I use, but one of the things that has always been a slight annoyance is the bluetooth USB dongle hanging off the side of my laptop that I'm always paranoid is going to get snapped off. In 2011, this is being enhanced to leverage a miniature dongle which is very slick. I have a similar usb dongle for my wireless mouse, and I leave it attached even when I throw my laptop into my travel bag.
For users who are switching between a desk phone and computer audio, their Savi offering is a great fit allowing users to easily toggle between them. In 2011, they will be adding the ability for these users to toggle with their mobile devices as well--a great addition since many desktop users will leverage all three communication channels in the office.
For home-office workers, Plantronics offers the Calisto speakerphone. No need to wear a headset at all when you have a speakerphone attached to your PC. A great enhancement to this in 2011 will be the ability to pair this with a mobile device as well, and the option to use a lapel mic.
You can see more info on their 2011 product preview on Plantronics' site. Of course these headsets all work well with the softphone in Sametime Unified Telephony as well. What I love about these offerings, is that where we depend on Sametime to unify communications at the software level, the Plantronics headsets extend that to the hardware end points, making it that much easier to use the multiple communication devices we juggle.