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4 meeting tech considerations for a hybrid workforce

With the evolution of how people work in government now, has your agency successfully scaled its meeting and collaboration capabilities? We share four factors t...



A lot of people were caught off guard and maybe adopted a solution hastily that was going to get them up and running. But now they’re sitting back and they’re evaluating their solution as a whole.

Forty people in a collaboration session connecting from 40 locations to define next year’s budget priorities? Sure. Once that might have seemed unheard of for a federal agency. Digital collaboration tools and telework have become increasingly common over the last decade, but everyone connecting in for everything became the unexpected norm with the onset of the pandemic.

Two years later, “people are realizing now that they have to have a defined videoconferencing or collaboration plan” to support the ongoing hybrid work environments that both government and industry envision, said John Horne, federal sales director at meeting solutions provider Pexip. “A lot of people were caught off guard and maybe adopted a solution hastily that was going to get them up and running. But now they’re sitting back and they’re evaluating their solution as a whole.”

How should an agency build out its plan and integrate the use of existing collaboration capabilities? What is the smartest, most cost-effective and security-compliant approach to scaling out a meeting solution?

We asked Horne, whose company has implemented mission-critical meeting capabilities to agencies across the Defense Department as well as in a civilian agencies, to share the chief factors that an agency will want to consider. He identified four critical needs that agencies should account for when plotting out a fully scalable meeting capability.

Meeting tech must-have No. 1: Interoperability

Perhaps the biggest challenge agencies face with their meeting tools is interoperability and managing different workflows, Horne said.

“You may have folks at an executive level using one type of technology, say, high-end meeting endpoints, and then others may be using cloud-based conferencing,” he said. “The big issue that agencies have now is getting all of these different types of conferencing systems to talk together.”

Look for a capability that can be housed in either a cloud environment or on hardware in the agency’s data center, he recommended. As a software-only solution, Pexip tackles interoperability by supporting standards-based videoconferencing, traditional H. 323 endpoints, platforms like Microsoft Teams that don’t natively connect to such endpoints and also proprietary systems that might be needed for highly secure or mission-critical needs.

Meeting tech must-have No. 2: Security

The need for secure meeting environments may seem like a no-brainer. But with the advent of zero trust initiatives government-wide, agencies also need the ability to ensure they can apply identity access management controls to their meeting environments.

For starters, agencies must be able to accredit whatever solution they use, Horne said. But also, when it comes to zero trust, “you may or may not have certain controls available within the application, based on what a person should or should not be allowed to be able to do within the meeting.”

There may be different controls based on the information being shared in specific meetings too, he said. “There are types of information that cannot be shared. Some of it has to do with personal employee data. Other types of information may include information about nuclear-type concerns. And so each of those environments is very specific about what can be shared.”

Meeting tech must-have No. 3: Customization

Agencies also should consider the ability to adapt their meeting solution to their unique needs or for different types of users, Horne advised.

As an example, he talked about work Pexip did with the Veterans Affairs Department for the VA Video Connect telehealth program. It’s an example of why customization can be so critical, Horne said.

VA supports veterans across the country who have “varying degrees of expertise and comfort with using a video soft client,” he said. The agency customizes experiences using Pexip’s application programming interfaces.

Meeting tech must-have No. 4: Resiliency

Depending on mission requirements, most agencies also need to ensure that business continuity extends to their collaboration tools, Horne said.

“You want a solution where you have the central licensing management node and then you have other conferencing nodes regionally dispersed,” he said. That way, “you can set up failover across those nodes, or you can have failover occur on premises in your data center.”

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