What Type of Space Do You Need for the Workplace?
Your Connected Path to the Future
We recently completed a consulting engagement to align the UC technology and room systems technology of a large organization. Strategically, we delivered a comprehensive roadmap to align their diverse technologies and move them forward with a cohesive UC&C framework. This in turn would set them up for significant opportunities to capture long term ROI from operational, procedural and strategic sources.
And then, they had a re-organization.
New Challenges Arising From a Re-Org
All of a sudden, the new Executive in charge of IT Infrastructure had a lot on his plate and the execution of the UC&C Roadmap was just a small piece.
The client didn’t have time to:
- Absorb the material
- Review the recommendations or
- Understand the roadmap and the strategic impact it could have on his organization.
Immediate operational decisions were required that impacted the long term UC&C direction. And he didn’t have time to build a relationship of trust with the consultants that had laid out the future roadmap for the organization.
Saving Your Way Into the Future?
Like all of us who are faced with making decisions constrained by limited time and looming deadlines, he had to rely on what he knew.
He started to eliminate strategic elements of the technology for the Room System standards because he didn’t understand why they were required or how they fit in. He thought he knew what was important, because he’s been in IT for 25+ years.
With the challenges in front of him, he planned to “save” his way into the future.
Over the last dozen years, often the business method of coping with change is to cut expenses. This is especially true in large organizations where a change in direction is slow to take effect. Cutting expenses on the other hand is quick to put in place.
But this is a slippery slope that’s hard to get off once you’re on it and it certainly won’t put your organization on the path to innovation and “Blue Oceans”.
Macro Market Trends
There are two current macro trends that I feel historians will look back at and use to define our time in history.
- The pace of change has gone exponential. We are at an inflection point in the rate of change and the impact is profound. You have to innovate to keep up with, let alone stay ahead of the inevitable – change. Gary Hamel has done some compelling work showing why we can’t do things the way we used to.
- The end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of the Connection Economy. Seth Godin writes about this. This shift is having a profound impact on businesses as things change.
ET Group helps organizations become more connected so they can better collaborate and innovate.
To do this effectively requires an understanding of how different disciplines or business offerings interact and come together as the nature of how we work changes.
The Workplace Of The Future
Meeting rooms are where workspace and technology really come together. Room systems must be effective places to meet where both the physical and virtual world intersect seamlessly. They must contain the right mix of conferencing technologies to enable the required level of collaboration and this will naturally lead to innovation.
The figure on the right shows the different disciplines that have always been separate, yet related and are now critically connected.
As the world changes, how is your business space requirements changing? After people costs, space costs are often the second most significant operational cost requirements of a business.
- How much space do you need?
- How will your space change?
- How can technology enable operational savings, productivity and strategic innovation?
Note: The importance of organizational culture and the need to focus on users and adoption for any significant change you introduce to your organization is not being discounted. This is a fundamental requirement.
Rethink Your Collaboration Workspace
We created this Infographic that highlights some interesting stats about the changing nature of work and how companies are adapting by:
- Adding more “We Space”
- Moving to smaller more efficient spaces
- Supporting alternative work strategies
To do this effectively and enable people to remotely collaborate, your room systems technology must align with your workers personal technology or a UC&C strategy. Note that 72% of people STILL come into the office to collaborate.
This is true whether your organization has 3 or 3,000 meeting rooms.
Meeting rooms are a scarce resource. Meeting rooms are an important part of your organization’s collaborative capabilities.
Conference Room Audio Visual Solutions are an Integral Part of a Well Executed UC&C Platform
Unified Communications (UC) has been around for the last 15 to 20 years, maybe longer.
When I first heard about UC, it was about how IT and Telecom would come together. Fast forward to today and IT & Telecom have come together – in more flavours than most Baskin & Robbins stores carry. There is no single, clear path that every organization can follow to get to a UC platform. In fact, in most organizations there are different paths. It depends on where you are starting from and where you want to go. There will be an upcoming blog article discussing the different paths an organization can follow to implement UC.
More often than not, an organization starts with a patchwork of technologies. To capture the numerous benefits (ROI) from UC, that patchwork has to be transformed into a tapestry.
The benefits of UC are significant and are realized when you focus on solving business problems instead of applying technology.
But you still need the technology. And it is not apparent how rooms systems and conference room design are an integral part of UC and the broader picture UC&C, where the second “C” stands for Collaboration.
The systems that are found in boardrooms, meeting rooms, training rooms and other types of corporate meeting spaces were traditionally the realm of the Audio Visual (AV) world and managed by corporate Real Estate Operations. Those rooms have become connected beyond the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) line, and the responsibility for the technology in those rooms has been/is migrating to IT.
Today those rooms need to be connected for 4 types of conferencing:
- Audio conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Web conferencing
- Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) / Smart Board conferencing
Deciding which of these conferencing technologies should be available in a meeting room will determine the level of collaboration that the meeting room is capable of enabling. I will be doing a blog post shortly on conferencing technologies enabling collaboration.
A best practice for implementing UC&C is to identify your user base and group them into User Classes. You should have between 3 and 12 User Classes. A lower number is better, even for very large organizations. Having the defined User Classes lets you move to the next step – mapping the technology each user class requires to do their job – PC (desktop / laptop), telephone (fixed / mobile / soft), tablets and other (headsets, etc).
So, how does UC&C tie into audio visual communication room systems?
The same best practices to implement UC&C hold true for room systems. Meeting rooms and spaces require a clear definition of what collaborative technology is required in the room to support the four different conferencing technologies listed above. But they need to support those technologies in relation to the UC platform deployed. For example, this means that the video in the room system needs to be compatible/integrated with the video used in the UC platform.
Having the ability to connect remote participants into the room technology conferencing modalities to support the level of collaboration required is critical in a UC&C environment. Being able to easily connect workers seamlessly into the room/meeting spaces is paramount to capturing the benefits and ROI that UC&C can bring.
To facilitate the collaboration and innovation in your organization you need to:
- Allow workers to easily connect with their UC technology platform, into the meeting rooms or spaces – UC to C, with all the different UC media types that are used by the workers; voice, video, desktop sharing, IM.
- Make the remote experience as good as being there
The penalty for poor implementation is not taking full advantage of collaborative technology ROI.
People will continue to travel, resulting in lost savings and productivity reduction. Also, real estate reduction benefits will not be realized because the workers will still come into the office. And those lost benefits can be huge.
If there are many meeting rooms in an organization, it makes sense to create room standards for up to a dozen meeting room types and implement those standards throughout the organization. This will make the technology decision for the rooms simpler, consistent and easier to use and support. An upcoming blog post about the benefits of creating room standards for multiple meeting rooms will be coming soon.
The benefits of tying your UC platform seamlessly into your room systems are significant. Doing it right requires proper planning, standards, integration and training. If you have any questions about connecting your room systems to your UC platform, contact us.