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1:1 with VCI-Group - Toni Alonso, Director / Conference Chairperson

September 26, 2012 | Telepresence Options
Thumbnail image for VCI-Group_Logo.jpg
Wainhouse Research Bulletin, Ira Weinstein, [email protected],

Ira Weinstein recently visited with long-time
conferencing and collaboration user Toni Alonso, most
recently of North Shore-LIJ Health System and also
Director / Conference Chair of the upcoming Visual
Communications Industry Group (VCI-Group) 3rd Annual Conference which will be held October 22nd-24th in Monterey, CA
. We've
known Toni for years and have long appreciated her
particular insights as an end user of the technologies we
know and love.

WR: What's the goal of the VCI-Group?

TA: The Visual Communications Industry Group's charter is to offer education to its end user members, provide the opportunity for them to meet with the manufacturers, CSPs and consultants in our industry, and to help influence the industry.

WR: Unless we're mistaken, VCI-Group used to be called the Polycom User Group (PUG). How is VCI-Group different, and why did the organization change?

insertarticletonialonso.jpgTA: The Polycom User Group (PUG) was disbanded and VCI-Group was formed in 2010. The dynamics of the transformation are interesting -- PUG and Polycom realized that as the industry evolved, there was a need for a vendor agnostic organization, as increasingly
organizations were no longer a one-manufacturer shop. As companies became more vendor agnostic, it was imperative that their user group evolved to meet their needs by representing everyone in the industry. There is one thing that the two organizations (VCI-Group and PUG) have in common; they were / are both user focused and driven. This philosophy provides unique perspectives and benefits to both the users and vendors that participate. Today, VCI-Group provides our members with relevant and timely information and best practices across all platforms in support of our mission to influence the Visual Communications Industry.

WR: What are the benefits of being a VCI-Group end-user member? What's the cost?

TA: When you become an End User Member of VCI-Group, you become a member of a community of individuals who are passionate regarding the implementation, delivery, and support of visual communications. Membership provides you with a plethora of information and contacts that you can reach out to with questions on equipment, service providers and
design. They are people who like to share, and their ultimate goal is to help our industry be successful. One of the most important benefits is access to a Listserv where you can
enter your questions and participate in discussions. Membership also provides discounts on in-person education and access to virtual education and a variety of other resources. The cost for an End-User to become a member is $99 for the calendar year (January - December).
Group memberships are available for $1,000 for 15 members.

WR: What are the benefits of supporting VCI-Group for vendors? What's the cost?

TA: This is an opportunity for Vendors to reach a targeted audience of decision makers and / or influencers who may not be aware of their capabilities. They also have the chance to strengthen current relationships with the people they do know, and to hear first-hand what
many individuals/companies in various verticals are requesting. We provide Vendors the opportunity to present at our VCIG Live! educational sessions; they can talk about a new product, or a way to use an application. It is an opportunity to demonstrate what services and /
or technology has been built for specific verticals. The cost for a Vendor ranges from $1,000 to $15,000 per year (July - June), and with the membership comes a variety of benefits, e.g., keynote presentation at the annual conference, exhibit booth, member list, etc.

WR: You've got a conference next month. What can
attendees expect?

TA: Yes -- our conference is Monday, October 22nd VCI-group-conference-details.png
through Wednesday, October 24th at the Hyatt
Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. This year our focus is on Mobility -- and the BYOD movement, Bring Your Own Device. One of the concerns we have heard from everyone, whether they are in an enterprise, education, or
healthcare organization, is how to incorporate tablets and smartphones into the environment and infrastructure while not compromising the security of their company.

The event will also include:

  • Several panel discussions focusing on "video in the cloud," "what is the status of UC,, and "is immersive video dead?"
  • An industry leaders and analyst panel (including Wainhouse Research of course) to discuss the future of the industry.
  • Training sessions, special interest group meetings, and concurrent sessions organized into tracks (operational management and technology development) and verticals (enterprise, education, and healthcare).
  • An exhibit hall that will feature emerging companies -- these are new companies (less than 5 years old or with $5M / year in revenue) to provide our members with information on their organizations and what they bring to the industry.
  • We don't believe in "all work" and will be having a beach party for our Special Event on Tuesday evening.

WR: When video becomes well established and pervasive (like email is today) and no longer needs special treatment and support, what role will VCI-Group play?

TA: Wow, I am hoping that I still have a job for the next 10 years, so I am not sure that video will become as easy as email, only because the human interaction is not just sitting and writing on a PC -- it requires another individual at the other end responding in real time.
What I am hoping is that when video becomes pervasive and well established, we are no longer focusing on the technology, but instead on the applications and business uses. Our role then in VCI-Group would be to enable individuals to share their uses for conferencing
in business, education, healthcare and entertainment -- let's share those Best Practices.

For more information on the VCI-G Conference, please see the Telepresence Options article:

Videoconferencing Users, Vendors, and Analysts Come Together at VCI-Group Annual Conference: October 22-24, 2012, Monterey, CA

VCI-Group 3rd Annual Conference - Official Website

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