Even though classes are just winding down for the 2020-2021 school year, it’s not too early to start thinking about next year. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy your summer, just keep preparation plans in mind before it gets too late!

One thing that higher education institutions should definitely include in their 2021-2022 plans is esports. Whether that means introducing an esports program for the first time or bolstering an existing one, Esports has transformed significantly since the start of 2020 and can be a valuable tool for attracting and engaging students.

How did Esports change because of the pandemic?

Like almost all aspects of life, esports changed drastically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But unlike most things, esports shined during this time.

According to NewZoo’s 2021 Global Esports and Live Streaming Market Report, the esports industry saw the following changes throughout the past year and a half:

  • A year-over-year growth of 8.7% from 2020 to 2021, bringing the audience of esports enthusiasts to 474 million.
  • Esports revenue is projected at $1.1 billion for 2021, a 14.5% increase from the previous year.
  • Live streaming audience for games saw a 10% increase from 2020 to 2021, projected at 728.8 million by the end of 2021.
  • Esports is predicted to continue growing, with estimations that the audience will reach 577.2 million by 2024.

Esports saw such a significant boom during this time because it is virtual and socially distant by nature, yet still offers a team environment and competitive play.

Are those changes here to stay?

While growth rate is predicted to shrink slightly for 2021 into 2022 because of COVID restrictions lifting, esports has cultivated a loyal fanbase and captured the attention of gamers around the world — that’s not likely to change any time soon.

The number of local and worldwide esports competitions held each year is steadily rising, which creates a great opportunity for colleges and universities. Having a reputable esports program will help attract and retain students while giving them a great avenue for meeting friends with similar interests. Their participation in a collegiate esports program could even result in a fruitful career, with tournament prize pools as high as $34 million.

How schools can gear up for esports this upcoming school year

It’s not too late for higher education institutions to put the systems in place that they’ll need for an esports program for next school year. IVCi’s Engage program allows you to customize your esports program from furniture, to AV setup and gaming technology, to technical support.

The subscription-based program provides hardware and software for academic environments with a step-by-step approach that ensures all goals are met. As a full-service technology partner, IVCi can handle all of the tech items so your school can focus on growing its program through recruitment and coaching.

We encourage schools to act fast, so their esports program can be up and running this fall. Learn more and get started here.

Whether your organization is returning to the office full time or adopting a hybrid work model, you’re likely in the middle of making preparations to have people back in the office.

While it’s exciting to have in-person meetings and work together again, the way we work isn’t going to be exactly the same as they were before COVID-19 hit. People have a different set of priorities for the workplace, one of them being keeping workspaces and communal technology clean.

Technology exists that enables organizations to maintain a cleaner workplace by limiting touchpoints and sanitizing shared surfaces. Here are some of the technology that your organization should consider for a cleaner work environment:

UV Light Technology for Shared Surfaces and Devices

The biggest area of concern is making sure that shared surfaces and devices are kept clean and sanitized. But cleaning wipes only go so far, and often can’t be used on certain electronic devices. Investing in UV light technology gives organizations a more reliable, reusable source of sanitation that is better for the environment and more effective at sanitizing. Examples of this type of technology include:

  • Portable, handheld wands for sanitizing keypads, touchpads, doors, workspaces, etc.
  • Device cabinets for sanitizing an entire office worth of laptops or other devices
  • Device sanitizers for individual devices like cell phones or cameras
  • Lamps that are capable of sanitizing an entire room

UV light sanitation is most effective for smooth, hard surfaces that are free of dust and dirt.

Touchless Technology

Touchless technology is another great way to keep workplaces sanitary since reducing touchpoints and shared surfaces is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Here are some ways to integrate touchless technology in the workplace:

  • Automatic doors and entryways
  • Keyless entry with magnetic ID badges
  • Touchless payment options for customers
  • Check-in points with touchless temperature scanners
  • Digital entrance tickets
  • QR codes to access menus, documents, and more

Touchless technology is being rapidly adopted by organizations of many industries and sizes as it allows them to be better prepared for a smooth return to the office and any future health issues that may arise.

Supporting BYOD and Touchless Technology with QR Codes

Organizations can take their clean technology initiatives one step further by implementing QR codes for a number of uses. For example, IVCi empowers organizations with QR codes that summon on-demand support for their AV technology. That not only offers a quick, seamless way to get video conferencing equipment up and running, it allows employees to use their own devices to summon support, which aligns with BYOT/BYOD and sanitation efforts.

If your organization is preparing for a full or partial return to the office, we recommend consulting with an AV technology integrator who can determine which technology is right for you, develop a plan that keeps your strategic goals in mind, implement the technology, and support your organization every step of the way. Reach out to the team of experts at IVCi today to get started.

There are three main schools of thought surrounding the “return to office” transition many organizations are going through right now:

  1. Our teams have been working remotely for over a year and it has been working, so we can continue full-time remote work.
  2. We want our teams to return to the office full time to benefit from in-person meetings and working together.
  3. Let’s take the best of both worlds and move to a hybrid work model.

The hybrid work model is arguably the most popular for most organizations, since it’s the perfect middle ground. It offers the flexibility that employees enjoy about working from home, with the opportunity to gather in person for meetings or important team projects. It also is a great way to limit building capacity which, although it may no longer be mandatory, is becoming a standard business practice for many companies.

Building A Successful Hybrid Work Model

In order to have a successful hybrid work model, you will have to make sure your teams are prepared with the tools and technology they need to smoothly transition from home to the office and back without losing productivity or efficiency.

Relying on emails and phone calls won’t cut it in today’s fast-paced business world; you need communication tools that are not only mobile, but allow your team to conduct business in the most effective ways. While the approach may be slightly different between working remotely and working in the office, the technology largely overlaps.

What you need in the office – The typical office setup as we’ve always known it has changed permanently because of COVID-19. Now, each office setup needs a way to communicate with remote teammates, vendors, and customers/clients — mainly video conferencing. There’s also a newfound emphasis on touchless technology, like QR scanning and BYOD workstations.

What you need at home – When working remotely, users need a seamless experience that allows them to use the same programs and tools that they use in the office. This means high-quality audio and video setups, cloud-based video platforms, and access to the same support they would receive in the office setting.

What would benefit both – To have video conferencing and meeting setups that work flawlessly for both remote and in-office individuals, it’s important to have them use the same audio video conferencing equipment.

Having an expert AV integrator assess your current hybrid setup and design and implement state of the art technology will help you make sure your organization’s productivity levels stay high. They can also offer the expert support you need to troubleshoot issues and keep your meetings running smoothly.

When we think about healthcare during COVID-19, we typically think about the things that COVID directly impacted: hospital capacities, changed visitor policies, PPE shortages, and the frontline heroes that put themselves at risk every day to help people recover.

But there was another side of the coin — people who needed medical care for conditions other than COVID. People with chronic conditions, injuries, and severe illnesses needed a safe way to speak to doctors and other medical professionals.

Enter telehealth. Being able to virtually meet with doctors through video conference completely changed the way people approached healthcare during COVID-19. But with restrictions easing and more things returning to “normal,” many providers are keeping telehealth options available.

Is telehealth here to stay?

There is a really good chance that telehealth will remain a permanent option from many healthcare providers. It has brought many benefits to both patients and providers, including:

  • More time efficient for both the doctor who does not have to have rooms prepped, and the patient who does not need to travel to their appointment.
  • People have been shopping from home, working from home, learning from home, etc. They are used to virtual interactions and this falls in line with that.
  • Older people or those with limited mobility can continue to seek healthcare independently.
  • People in rural or underserved areas can access the nation’s top doctors.
  • No outside factors like the weather (or a global pandemic) can interfere with much-needed healthcare.

How AV technology can make telehealth visits more efficient

If telehealth is here to stay, healthcare organizations need to make sure they are providing the best possible experience. AV conferencing companies can design and implement systems that make visits more efficient. Here are some ways the right AV setup helps:

  • Face to face interaction – Healthcare providers and patients can have more effective communication when they can see body language; it also promotes the human element of an in-person visit.
  • Better assessment of symptoms – High-quality video can help providers better recognize visual symptoms like swelling, rashes, and infections. Setting up telehealth systems without the help of dedicated AV technology could reduce quality.
  • Strong audio and video – Similarly, having strong audio and video is necessary for efficient telehealth visits, so you’ll want to rely on professional grade equipment and installation for the best possible outcomes.
  • Reliable and fast connections – Strong connections means patients and providers can join quickly, have uninterrupted visits, and effective discussions.
  • Support at your fingertips – In the rare event that you experience technical difficulties, AV technology allows quick and easy access to dedicated support that will get your session up and running as soon as possible.
  • Reduced costs – While the priority is ensuring top-level care, reducing costs is important too. AV technology can boost telehealth programs and allow organizations to dedicate less funding to office maintenance and more to research and treatments.

For these reasons, healthcare organizations should take a proactive approach to telehealth and get the assistance of experts. Audio video conferencing companies can focus on the technology so your organization can focus on what truly matters — the patients.

Have you ever passed a traditional bulletin board and was instantly awestruck with how engaging and informative the content was? Probably not.

Digital signage is quickly replacing bulletin boards and paper materials for informing employees and visitors — and for good reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic further expedited this shift, leading to an entirely new approach to signage in the workplace.

The importance of digital signage in your organization

Having strategically-placed digital signage is a great way to share information and keep employees and visitors up to speed in today’s ever-changing world. Here are some benefits of having digital signage:

  • Convenience – display important information in real-time where it can’t be missed, as opposed to cluttered email inboxes.
  • Automation – create content or import it from another system in either static or slideshow format, so you can set what is seen throughout the day.
  • Visibility – make sure your employees are in the know even if they are always on the move.
  • Unification – for healthcare facilities or businesses with shift workers, replace meetings with digital signage to make sure even overnight shift workers receive communication.
  • Safety – immediately alert the whole building to any safety concerns.
  • Social distancing – reduce the face-to-face contact meetings or flyer handouts require.
  • Improve customer and visitor experience – give visitors the information they need quickly in a highly-visible way. In some cases, they can even interact with the digital signage to find what they need quickly.
  • Collaboration – get your team on the same page quickly with information that starts a conversation, or share exciting announcements that keeps them engaged.

Replacing your out of date communication plan with digital signage will bring significant positive changes to your office environment.

How has digital signage changed recently?

Odds are that practically every part of your work environment has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way. One of the biggest changes has been around communication — both the importance of it and how it’s done.

The pandemic brought to light just how critical fast, continuous communication is. Employers need to have systems in place to quickly push out information to a large number of people at once, with confidence that they’ll see it. Digital signage took on a new role as an emergency communication system for people in the office. With one place that employees can go for the most up to date information, digital signage can be your mass communication hub.

There’s also been a shift in how workplace communication in general is executed. A major priority for businesses who are reopening after the pandemic is making their operations as touchless and with as little in-person interaction as possible. Digital signage is a good substitute for informational meetings or hand-to-hand delivery of memos.

Take your digital signage to the next level

Whether digital signage is completely new to your organization or you are looking to upgrade to the latest technology, IVCi is here to help. Reach out to our team today to get more information about digital signage options or to get a consultation — whatever you need to help improve communication in your workplace.

You’ve heard of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace, but have you heard of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT)?

The COVID-19 pandemic made everyone hyper-aware of shared surfaces and how they play a part in spreading illness. Consequently, society has gotten smart and come up with inventive ways to limit touchpoints in schools and businesses.

Enter: touchless tech. What started as a nice perk quickly became standard operating practice as schools and businesses re-opened after the COVID-19 shutdowns. But is it here to stay? Let’s take a closer look at BYOT and the mark it’s leaving on businesses today.

How businesses are implementing BYOT and touchless tech

Many businesses have already implemented both BYOT and touchless technology. For BYOT, they are encouraging employees to use their own devices, connecting them to the company’s wi-fi network and audio visual conferencing systems.

But companies are taking touchless technology even further. Here are some examples of touchless technology that are streamlining operations:

  • Automatic doors
  • Keyless entry that utilizes magnetic ID badges to open doors and identify employees
  • Touchless payment options for customers to pay using their phones
  • Check-in kiosks that feature thermal cameras for temperature checks that do not require close contact
  • Digital visitor passes and entrance tickets
  • QR codes on AV equipment for on-demand support while only touching your own device

Touchless technology is made possible thanks to advancements in cameras and cloud connectivity.

Benefits of BYOT touchless tech

While BYOT and touchless technology gained popularity by necessity, businesses have noticed they carry valuable benefits.

The benefits of having employees use their own devices include:

  • Lower overhead costs for companies
  • More flexibility for employees to use the devices that work best for their job function
  • Seamless transition when moving between work locations or huddle rooms
  • Less shared equipment means lower risk of spreading illness and better maintenance of social distancing

Additional touchless technology brings even more benefits:

  • More accurately screen for signs of illness without putting staff at risk
  • Better security of entrances
  • More accurate contact tracing information
  • Quicker and more efficient customer or visitor experiences

As touchless technology continues to expand, you’ll likely see even more benefits.

Are BYOT and touchless tech here to stay?

The rapid adoption of BYOT initiatives and touchless technology have signaled a major operational shift in schools and businesses. It’s likely that these are here to stay. Not only are businesses enjoying the benefits of reducing physical touchpoints, but they’re more prepared in the case of a future pandemic.

Even if there is no future pandemic (which is the ideal situation!), it will still help workplaces stay more sanitary and reduce the spread of common illnesses. That, paired with the cost and productivity benefits, make this a win-win change for businesses.

If your organization has not fully embraced BYOT and touchless technology yet, it’s beneficial to get the help of an AV integrator like IVCi who specializes in implementing systems that can accommodate any device — as a bonus, we can also help you with many of your touchless technology needs.

As technology advances, cybersecurity is always a top priority. But in the past, it was a little easier to manage. When people work in an office with company-owned devices and host in-person meetings, it’s easy to create unified security policies and keep meetings “closed doors” (literally and figuratively)

But that’s not the world we live in anymore. With more and more organizations shifting to permanent remote work, it’s time to take a closer look at cybersecurity. There are additional challenges to consider and security gaps to prioritize.

Securing video conferences

Since 2020, there has been a huge rise in “Zoom bombing,” a term that refers to video conferences being hacked in order to steal sensitive material or to share inappropriate or harmful material.

Here are some tips and features to utilize to better secure your video conferences:

  • Password protect meetings
  • Authenticate users by requiring sign-in before joining a meeting
  • Do not allow others to join the meeting before the host
  • Lock participants once the meeting begins
  • Turn off participant screen sharing
  • Use randomly-generated Meeting IDs and passwords
  • Keep software up to date
  • Avoid file sharing within your meeting

The specific platform you’re using will likely have their own specific security guidelines — it’s definitely a good idea to stay up to date on them.

BYOD connectivity and security concerns

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives are a popular option for remote organizations, since the company doesn’t have to incur the cost of providing new devices for all employees. It also gives people flexibility to work on the devices and operating systems that they are comfortable with.

But it also opens the door for cyber criminals to attack employees at their endpoints since there are no unified security policies across devices. Your employees will also be working from personal or public wi-fi networks, which are significantly easier to hack. This can be solved relatively easily with the implementation of software solutions designed for this very thing — but it’s something to be aware of.

Keeping your team on the same page

It’s easier to keep your whole team on the same page regarding security best practices when they are working on one network with company devices. But it’s important to not let this fall by the wayside just because your organization is working remotely.

Host regular training on how cybersecurity priorities and concerns have changed since moving to remote work and remind your employees the importance of password protecting their wi-fi networks, using secure servers, and keeping their devices and applications up to date with the latest security updates.

Take a security-first approach to remote work

With companies making the decision to remain remote permanently, it has to be done with a security-first approach. The best way to make sure you are staying compliant with security best practices is to make sure your solutions and technology systems are backed by industry experts.

The team at IVCi can assess your current AV conferencing technology setup and find room for improvement, or help you develop a plan entirely from scratch. Contact us today to find out more.

Digital technology has changed the way we work. Many software programs and tech upgrades exist for the sole purpose of facilitating teamwork, which became crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now companies are sticking with digital collaboration for a number of reasons.

Let’s take a look at why this new way of collaborating isn’t going anywhere, and what organizations can do to strengthen their approach to digital collaboration.

Productivity

A major concern for organizations in early stages of distributing their workforce or planning virtual meetings was that not being together in person would cause productivity to take a major hit. However, it seems that removing face to face interaction and in-person work has had the opposite effect.

According to Transformity, 77% of people report greater productivity when working remotely. But that’s only possible when they have the right tools. Digital collaboration tools give teams all the benefits of in-person interactions without the time and cost associated with it.

With video conferencing in place, teams can meet with each other or clients regardless of physical distance, travel restriction, or capacity limitations. They’re left with more time in their day to execute deliverables since they don’t need to travel to the office for daily work or meetings.

Socialization

Another reservation companies hold about moving to more distributed work models is losing social interaction, whether it be body language in meetings or small talk in the break room. Digital collaboration preserves the social aspect of working with a team. You can still see body language or use gestures, make eye contact, and hear their voices.

Companies can use their AV conferencing tools for both work and play. They are not only great for meetings and webinars, but they’re great for remote happy hours and virtual team-building exercises. That way, teams not only stay productive, they stay connected too.

Preference

Digital collaboration is arguably the most flexible component of the modern workplace. It gives people the ability to work where they want, when they want, and how they want. It allows organizations and individuals to set their preferences and work the way that is best for them.

Organizations have many options when it comes to what tools and technology they implement to facilitate digital collaboration. That level of customization is important to crafting a technology plan that will be adopted by more users and work best with strategic goals.

The Right Approach to Digital Collaboration

Remember, while technology plays a crucial role, people are at the heart of digital collaboration. It’s important to make sure the people in your organization feel empowered and confident in their collaboration tools.

Having the support of an audio visual company will give you the tools you need to continue digital collaboration with increased adoption and enthusiasm. For more information about working with a video conferencing company who can support you every step of the way, contact us today.

One of the biggest challenges of the 2020-2021 school year has been providing a high quality of education to students while being mindful of COVID-19. Educators are so eager to engage with students on an in-person level, but there are still restrictions in place and parent concerns that are preventing 100% in-person learning in many states.

AV technology has played a crucial role in allowing K-12 schools to deliver high-quality, engaging education to both in-person and remote learners. Let’s take a closer look at how schools are doing this.

1. Interactive displays enhance in-person learning

For students who are attending school in person, it’s important to find ways to take lessons to the next level in a way that is mindful of social distancing and contact guidelines. Interactive displays with content sharing, multi-touch, and whiteboard capabilities can increase engagement and focus. In some cases they can also be connected to software and cloud-based programs so at home learners can participate in the collaboration as well.

2. Video conferencing for hybrid classrooms

Many K-12 teachers are simultaneously giving lessons to students in the classroom and at home. High quality video conferencing equipment (with a camera and microphone) can give remote learners high quality video and sound that mimics being in the classroom. It also gives students the opportunity to participate in the classroom and maintain face-to-face contact with other students and teachers.

3. Leveraging AV carts for mobile connectivity

It’s important for teachers to be able to move around the building to accommodate their in-person students, while remaining connected to their remote learners. If pan-tilt-zoom cameras with advanced autotracking features are not realistically within budget, an AV cart is a great option. These carts hold a large display, a camera, a wireless mic, etc. — everything that a teacher would need to connect with at-home students, in a much more portable format than built-in technology.

4. Keeping all students involved in “hands-on” activities

Hands-on learning has always been such an important part of K-12 learning. However, hybrid/remote learning and COVID-19 guidelines have made this difficult. With AV technology, teachers can conduct science experiments or give a technical demo in a robotics class that is more impactful than finding a video on the topic from YouTube. Students will have the ability to ask questions in real-time and have an experience similar to that of witnessing the activity in person.

Government assistance like the CARES Act have allocated funding to K-12 schools to help them secure the tools they need to create a successful learning environment. For many schools, that involves completely rethinking their AV technology setup and heavily investing funds in that area.

IVCi prides itself on being a trust technology partner that schools can turn to when they need help with their AV technology. From strategy to deployment to ongoing support, we can help K-12 set up and maintain systems for long-term success. Contact us today to see what we can do for your school.

Higher education institutions are investing more than ever into audio video integration. This is a move that just makes sense given the way colleges and universities operate now.

Students are using portable devices for just about everything these days, including in the classroom. In our ever-connected world, audio video conferencing equipment is one of the best investments higher education institutions can make.

Here are some of the ways AV tech is improving college campuses around the world:

1. Interactive learning and collaboration

Learning is no longer one-sided. Now, it’s a collaborative experience. Educators can integrate interactive quizzes, real-time group work, and remote participants into their lessons.

AV conferencing doesn’t just allow students and educators to speak face to face regardless of physical location, it allows for a more immersive experience. It also allows students and educators to incorporate the cloud-based tools so they can work anytime, with anyone, from anywhere.

2. Attracting potential students

Colleges can use AV tech to attract potential students in a couple of ways. First, video walls and digital displays project a large amount of information in an easily-digestible way. They can be interactive, so prospective students who are on a campus tour can navigate content and learn more about what interests them most.

Second, AV tech makes campus tours more accessible to more students. If a student from another state or country is interested in your college, an in-person tour might not be possible but a virtual reality tour powered by video conferencing would be.

3. Simulating real-world experiences

Many college programs are designed to prepare students for a career in the real world. However, some experiences are nearly impossible to recreate in a classroom setting without the assistance of AV technology.

For example, chemistry students can conduct virtual experiments when dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals, or medical students can simulate the experience of performing a high-risk procedure — all from their devices.

Many colleges were forced to introduce virtual clinical experiences due to COVID-19, and it’s likely that they will stick around.

4. Enhance entertainment experience for events

At colleges where sports and entertainment are a big part of campus life, AV can take the experience to the next level. In addition to stunning visuals and crystal clear sound, AV technology makes the game more engaging. There can be interactive displays, projected graphics, and multiple streaming screens to give fans an in-depth look at different aspects of the game.

5. Expanding extracurricular activities with eSports

Esports is skyrocketing in popularity among colleges across the country. Having a state-of-the art AV technology setup creates an opportunity for colleges to develop an esports team and even host tournaments.

Having an esports team will attract students that have good critical thinking skills, work well on teams, and come from a wide range of backgrounds. If you want to learn more about esports programs at the collegiate level, read our recent blog post.

If your institution is looking to take its AV setup to the next level, reach out to our expert team. We’d love to talk about how we can help you create an even better environment for your students and faculty.