Managed video services began in the early 2000s when Fortune 1000 companies and other large commercial organizations decided to save money and stay focused by outsourcing their video conferencing management.
Since then, companies have come to rely on managed service providers to deliver a whole range of technology-based services in order to maximize the reliability, consistency, and ease-of-use that a focused professional agency can provide.
A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and/or end-user systems, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model.
Enterprise-level businesses now expect the overall experience, quality, and reliability a video collaboration environment creates for them.
Who needs a managed video services provider?
Any large company that maintains a large deployment of video conferencing systems and audio visual meeting rooms needs a managed video service provider. Some companies face major technical obstacles such as lacking standardization and consistency in their meeting rooms, which causes each user experience to be different. Sometimes meeting rooms are poorly designed, overly complicated, or hard to use. In many companies, a decentralized purchasing approach causes vendors to over-design the rooms, meaning the company spent money on impressive architecture that actually hinders functionality.
Companies who rely on an in-house team or cobble together support from several vendors may be trying to run multiple technologies and audio visual integrators simultaneously. In these situations, users often don’t know where to turn for technical support and receive poor or inconsistent levels of service.
In these cases, a managed video service provider can help develop fully integrated and consistent meeting rooms, each outfitted with personalized audio visual solutions aligned to the users’ specific functionality and needs. The provider can also standardize and automate equipment to create a user-friendly experience and offer support through an always-on help desk and full-time, on-site staff.
What are the benefits of managed video services?
Once a company is maintaining about 20 video-enhanced rooms or locations, it’s time to think about moving video services from an in-house operation to an outsourced professional provider.
The key benefits of working with a provider include:
1. A break for your IT team.
Handling communication and collaboration solutions can drag down already overworked IT departments. Managed video conferencing services shift the responsibility of managing video and A/V environments to industry experts, letting the IT team focus on what they do best.
2. Round-the-clock access to experts.
Video conferencing is a niche market with a specific knowledge base. Managed video service providers serve as a proactive extension of the in-house team through a 24-hour help desk, remote and onsite services, and a team of certified personnel.
3. Endpoint and infrastructure monitoring.
By monitoring the health and status of video conferencing and A/V assets, a managed services provider can determine how well their clients’ infrastructure is working at all times, allowing them to easily identify what hardware needs serviced or replaced.
4. Quick return on investment.
Managed video services can eliminate excessive capex from infrastructure hardware investments along with excess headcount for infrastructure support
What elements make up managed video services?
A managed video conferencing service provider makes available a variety of options depending on the level and depth of service required. In general, however, providers can offer four basic elements of service — on-site staffing, remote management and monitoring, a help desk and troubleshooting, and infrastructure management.
On-site staffing – Sometimes companies need service providers to send people to their campuses full time, all the time. This approach lets an expert keep their hands on the reins at a large campus headquarters or a location that supports a lot of important meetings.
Remote management and monitoring – In many cases, the managed services provider uses software to do automated, remote monitoring in order to stay abreast of issues and problems.
Help desk and troubleshooting – The provider can answer end users’ operational questions and help resolve problems. Proactively, providers can also guide users on applications available through the A/V systems and other new technologies and conference applications.
Infrastructure management – To determine the best model of service, a company needs to consider how it will work with the provider to manage the infrastructure. Where will it be located? Who will own it? Who will manage it?
The three models of managed video services
Managed video conferencing services don’t all work the same way. Companies have a choice about how to deploy the software-and-service package they’re buying.
1. On-premise model – In this model, the infrastructure sits on the company’s network, and the managed video services provider controls it remotely. Enterprises keep the video infrastructure behind their own firewall and on their network.
2. Cloud model – The managed services provider owns the infrastructure, manages it, and houses it in their own cloud. This model’s users benefit from cloud security, scalability, reliability, and high uptime.
3. Hybrid model – Combining the on-premise model and the cloud model, a hybrid approach lets the company keep their own infrastructure but also employ some of the service provider’s software for extra capacity or as a failover.
Each model brings certain strengths and opportunities. Companies can discuss their priorities and needs with a managed video services provider to determine which model will best suit their business approach.
How do managed video services work?
A company that is piecemealing a solution by using a variety of providers and in-house support often gets inconsistent experiences, low reliability, poor quality, and unhappy end users. A service provider in New York, for instance, may give one level of service while another vendor in Texas provides another level of service and the one in the Midwest might provide no video service at all.
Each provider establishes a different contract, which may lead to problems when equipment needs to get repaired. Plus, with different types of equipment at each location, systems can prove incompatible or hard to manage. The biggest problem of all, of course, is the cost inefficiency of such a model, leading companies to sink larger and larger budgets into technology providers that don’t meet an enterprise-level company’s needs.
A managed video service addresses these problems by offering an all-in-one, done-for you approach, standardizing equipment, automating the monitoring and management system, and providing a consistent level of service and support. They can even watch all the components of a network to determine when it’s failing, about to fail, or needs an upgrade.
What kind of support does managed video services provide?
A managed video service provider typically offers a help desk, troubleshooting, advanced equipment replacement, software warranties, remote monitoring and management, on-site staffing, and high-touch or concierge-level services.
For instance, if a video conference needs 10 rooms involved, then the provider can set up those calls manually, using remote tools to make sure the sites connect, the audio-visual checks happen, and all participants can see and hear easily.
Or when a corporation needs to connect with another company, a customer, a partner, or a supplier, security and firewalls can complicate matters. Providers test those connections and set them up long before the scheduled meeting takes place.
What makes a great managed video services provider?
A top-shelf managed video service provider can demonstrate their experience working with large and complex clients, the kind of companies that are complicated, dispersed, difficult to manage, and have important things going on. These providers deeply understand that kind of corporate environment, offer a deep level of service, and create service level agreements that guarantee up times and reliability.
How do you find the right managed video conferencing services provider for you?
- Check reference accounts. Make sure the provider has worked with multibillion dollar global companies. Don’t go with a team of fast learners.
- Look for experience. Find a provider that’s been doing this for 25 years or more.
- Ask if the provider will guarantee quality assurance.
- Do they provide good software and systems to run the service?
- Are they properly scaled to provide nationwide coverage?
- Do they hold certifications and accreditations required from the software and hardware manufacturers?