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Corporate Canvas

Sep 23, 2013 3:34 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart

Making digital spaces work

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Constant Collaboration

On the employee side of the house, most of the meeting spaces in the 200,000-square-foot building have interactive LCD Smart displays that allow people to annotate and collaborate with others—including people not physically in the office. Through automated moveable walls, many of the spaces can be reconfigured. Advanced deployed videoconferencing systems that blend Polycom and Smart Technologies whiteboards, touchscreens, and collaboration software.

AV technology is the spectacular centerpiece of the visitors’ center, and prominent throughout the headquarters, but in the senior executive conference room it is nearly invisible. Discreet flush-mount conferencing mics embed in the leaf-shaped table. Overhead, a similarly shaped structure mirrors the table with lighting and houses a retractable NEC WXGA, 5500-lumen projector on a Draper automated lift.

McPherson says that Advanced sees interactive collaboration as important enough to dedicate two salespeople solely to that discipline. The company provides consultation and training to make sure that clients not only get the collaboration system they think they want but one they will actually use and keep using.

At GE, an onsite tech stayed to trouble shoot and train the large group of new users. In fact, Weatherhead emphasized that one of the most important challenges of the job was not technology, but people. GE is a large company and integrating users was just as important as integrating gear. Further, he says, they needed to work effectively with an IT department that was remote to the building and already serving thousands of users. Having people on the Advanced staff who were Microsoft-certified helped bridge the trust gap. “Those certifications are just going to be more important as time goes by,” McPherson say.

Weatherhead adds that the other thing that will be more important as time goes by is visual impact, flexibility, and spontaneity in collaboration. That means more videowalls and high-impact displays, and also processing power to incorporate spreadsheets, videoconferencing, whiteboard annotation, and many other kinds of data and image sources onto these displays as needed. “You want a cross-discipline skill set; clients want more pixels in their buildings, whether for customer experience or to get more out of meetings,” Weatherhead says.

Just a few weeks ago, Advanced put this same kind of pixel-intensive collaborative approach to work for Air Canada when the airline relocated its operations center to a new facility in Toronto. As with GE, the goal was to integrate the AV systems into the lifeblood of the enterprise. Once again the combination of high-impact videowalls and Smart interactivity served them well.

Looking Ahead: Prysm Collaboration Videowall Solutions

In May, Prysm announced two new standard products for collaboration meeting rooms: a 117in. diagonal videowall for medium-sized rooms and a 190in. diagonal videowall for large rooms. These rooms are designed to increase team productivity by enabling the convergence of user-generated content, telepresence, and collaborative applications into a unified experience on a large digital canvas. The new videowalls use Cisco TelePresence codecs and cameras; users can move and interact naturally through the combination of camera coverage, efficient encoding, and a broad visual canvas for presenting both people and content. Applications and video can be shared in real time around the globe.

Looking Ahead: Smart and Microsoft Lync

Smart's software bridges between their interactive displays and Polycom videoconferencing systems in configurable training rooms.

Advanced flags the combination of Smart Technologies interactive products and Microsoft Lync for videoconferencing as poised for growth. “Smart recently came out with software that taps into the power of Microsoft Lync,” Advanced VP Mark McPherson says. “It’s easier to integrate with the IT manager since they are likely already on the Lync system. It’s really exciting to think of extending the desktop Microsoft Lync experience into the boardroom.” AVI-SPL has also recently completed certification to sell the Smart Technologies room system for Microsoft Lync in the UK.

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