by Dave Smith

Leverage video to boost digital workplace experiences

Aug 02, 2018
IT LeadershipIT SkillsVideo

When evaluating video communications and collaboration solutions, don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Factor in the overall impact on the digital workplace and other technology investments and initiatives.

video conference teamwork and collaboration
Credit: Thinkstock

For as long as I can remember, video has been on the requirements list of most enterprise collaboration technology RFPs that I have reviewed. Oftentimes it was merely a checkbox item, because the organization thought they needed to include it, despite not having a purposeful strategy. However, in the current digital workplace, video communications and collaboration has become a critical enterprise tool. It has proven itself to be effective for cutting travel costs, reducing time and increasing productivity when applied correctly to business processes and how people work.

Enterprise planners have to continually look at video and leverage it for specific business applications. This includes addressing the changing dynamics of the workplace and modern workforce, which has become increasingly mobile and distributed. In the next couple years, by 2020, mobile workers will account for over 60 percent of the US workforce.

Enterprises have to deal with this extended workforce that is geographically dispersed and includes external partners, contractors and suppliers. This requires a dedicated overall digital workplace strategy. People management strategies also will need to be adjusted and updated to reflect this new dynamic workplace.

Enterprise planners have to incorporate video collaboration across the workplace, with the goal of enhancing the many interactions that occur within each business process and workflow. Real-time interactivity is a crucial part of collaboration that is required for any modern organization to succeed.

Getting in the trenches with a business leader and decision-maker

One of the things I love most is getting in the trenches with business leaders from all areas such as sales, marketing, IT and HR, to understand their digital workplace strategies and priorities. I recently spoke with Robin Hamerlinck, CIO of Shure, Inc., about digital workplace technologies, collaboration and video. We discussed in detail Shure’s digital workplace technology journey, implementing video collaboration and her overall role and priorities. As a modern-day CIO, she’s seen her role evolve beyond just managing operational issues to also leading innovation. She intimated how critical it was going forward to end the erroneous notion of IT being separate from the business. There is no separation. Critical for all departments is focusing on the employee as well customer experiences, which are inextricably linked and are the driving force for business success. Each area of the business has to work in concert, especially around digital workplace initiatives.

One of her key areas of focus was around communications and collaboration. Shure is an audio industry pioneer with a rich history of major contributions to broadcasting, media and entertainment. Being the son of a jazz musician, I was well aware of the history and also interested in seeing how the company was navigating the modern digital workplace landscape.

Robin was focused on improving the experience for customers and internal employees worldwide. As part of this initiative, Shure has customer experience centers established in Europe, north and south America, in specific locations such as London, Chicago and Brazil respectively, to name a few. The goal was to bring customers in for real experiences across all points of interaction. Along with Shure’s innovation in audio technology, this included improving visual communications and collaboration experiences in huddle rooms, streaming townhalls, outward collaboration with customers and partners in the ecosystem and training videos. Along with real-time video interactions, some of the specific use cases would include creating lots of video content for training, support and overall knowledge sharing.

As we discussed these initiatives to improve communications and collaboration experiences, it became clear that Robin understood Shure had to be a full-on media production and delivery company. Digital transformation has made it necessary for every organization to be a media company, that has to facilitate the production of high quality and engaging experiences. In the case of video, this includes live and on demand content that’s been well captured for re-use. Enterprise leaders have to rethink the digital workplace as requiring YouTube and Netflix like experiences for employees and customers.

This led Robin and her organization to look for video technology providers that they could partner with to provide high quality experiences across the live and on demand spectrum. Shure ultimately selected BlueJeans Network as a key partner for video technology. It’s also interesting to note, that Robin was not looking at video in a vacuum, but as part of a broader digital workplace strategy centered on improved people experiences. It is this focus, that has proved successful, as video usage and overall adoption has increased tremendously. It’s aided in bringing teams together from different locations globally for enhanced collaboration.

Also, integral to the digital workplace strategy was artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and full integration of Shure’s digital signal processing (DSP) technology for better sound and voice quality. Digital workplace initiatives require a high degree of team work and collaboration to achieve successful outcomes.

While every organization is unique, the goal of any digital workplace technology investment should center around improving experiences for internal employees and customers. So, when looking specifically at video communications and collaboration, make sure it is part of the larger initiative for technology solutions that help people get their work done and facilitates better experiences for customers. Also, when deciding on technology providers, it should be done with the sentiment or goal of choosing a partner and building a relationship of trust.