Fact: Microsoft Teams added more than 75 million daily active users over the past two years. The unified communications platform has delivered the capabilities needed to overcome a massive shift to remote work and has proved to be a valuable, easy-to-use collaboration tool.
At one of the largest power and energy companies in the United States, the migration to Teams also served a more human-centric purpose: ensuring that employees have experience parity, or equal access to modes of working that wholly promote quality interactions, drive productivity and boost innovation—no matter their preferred device or whether they are in the office, working remotely or even in the field.
As Ian Yeskoo, Lead LAN Administrator, explained, “Teams took off because everyone becomes an equal in the organization, particularly due to the fact that all employees can be a host and can utilize all of the dynamic collaboration features in real-time, making meetings—whether hybrid or fully remote—no longer host-dependent and bound by limitations.”
When Vistacom’s engineers and service technicians were tasked with integrating Microsoft Teams into every conference room throughout this enterprise, the virtual elephant in the room was a technological challenge that required a thought-out and innovative approach. There were over 200 Cisco audiovisual and video conferencing endpoints throughout all facilities, devices that Microsoft Teams was not fully compatible with because of its inability to support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) dialing, or the process of transmitting voice calls over an internet connection—typically referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Adding to the complexity of this challenge, employees were slated to gradually return to the office in different capacities to transition towards a hybrid workforce. Needless to say, the Vistacom team worked closely with Ian to quickly design and deploy a scalable solution.
Managing Change for a Modern Solution
The result? Remote users are now able to schedule the Cisco Webex conference rooms using their Microsoft Teams meetings. The Cisco Cloud Video Interoperability (CVI) service was the foundation of this integration, effectively making the seamless connection between Webex rooms and Microsoft Teams a reality without the need for a rip-and-replace, additional on-premise components, nor software upgrades.
The integration process was bolstered by satisfying critical cybersecurity requirements. “Since our facilities operate at a high level of security, the IT change had to go through intensive periods of risk assessments in order to get the green light for daily use,” Ian said.
One of Vistacom’s priorities for this project was to take the interconnectivity one step further and integrate Office 365 and Outlook calendars in every room. By ensuring that resource mailboxes were included company-wide and tied to all of the Cisco room video conferencing endpoints, “meetings are scheduled seamlessly, and users don’t have to do anything,” Ian said. “Employees can schedule a Teams meeting, which reserves the room physically, but also includes all meeting information.”
What’s more—and possibly the most useful from the user’s perspective—are two capabilities that really modernize these systems for hybrid meetings. First, the OBTP, or One-Button-to-Push, is essentially one-touch join connectivity that allows people to easily launch their meeting using the touch panel. Second, Ian and Vistacom were also able to leverage an existing Cisco Webex voice command feature in most of these spaces, giving meeting organizers the ability to join their scheduled Teams call with simple key phrases recognized by the Webex Assistant, such as “OK, Webex. Start the Meeting.”
“Truly, this Vistacom AV integration brought all of our preferred technologies together, from Cisco video endpoints to Microsoft Teams and Outlook scheduling software,” Ian expressed.
He pointed out, “now, for day-to-day meetings that include both in-person and remote people, these room systems are easy for operators to use. And just as important from an IT standpoint, it is simple to scale and has become a low maintenance, set-it-and-forget-it solution.”