Sam Kennedy: Driving Equitable Hybrid Work Experiences
In today’s hybrid working world, the technology in a traditional office and in a home office might not align. Therefore, when doing something like meeting with colleagues, the experiences of people attending in person are likely to vary from those attending remotely.
“The idea is to really drive this highly equitable experience so that people who are remote are on equal footing with those who are in the room,” said Sam Kennedy, senior director and product evangelist at Crestron Electronics, Inc.
Crestron worked with its client Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team to enable its entire team — no matter their location — to collaborate effectively and successfully cross the finish line.
Crestron is a manufacturer and deliverer of audiovisual automation and unified communications solutions and a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s recent Digital Workplace Experience (DWX) Conference. To follow up on its session, SMG Events spoke with Sam about how Crestron enabled Mercedes-AMG Petronas to create that equitable hybrid workplace experience.
Reliability as the Key to Unlock Wins
SMG Events: You helped a client implement a video collaboration tool. What problem were they looking to solve and how did Crestron help?
Sam Kennedy: Yes, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team is one of the top-tier teams in Formula One. They design, develop, manufacture and race the cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
The way Formula One works is that they travel to a different country almost every other week. Their teams are spread out all over the world, and they need to be able to communicate and collaborate no matter where their team members are. From a collaboration perspective, we’re helping them have real-time, high-quality and reliable experiences for all their users so that they can be top performers.
Reliability was especially important to them and the technology always must work. When you think of what they are trying to do, and the high stakes of communicating during a race, that real-time delivery and solutions that never-fail are both critical aspects.
They use Microsoft Teams as their unified communications platform. That is how they share files, instant messages and get work done. Crestron brings in a native Microsoft Teams experience with a consistent user interface from every Crestron Flex video conferencing device for easy connections when joining a call.
SMG Events: What does the 'ideal' hybrid workplace experience look like, and why is it ideal?
Kennedy: An ideal situation is that your users can work from anywhere and everywhere. When we are talking to organizations now, the focus is on enabling every single room to have collaboration capabilities.
There also is the need to deliver a highly equitable experience so that people who are remote are on equal footing with people that are in the room. Crestron delivers that with high-quality audio, high-quality video, and seamless content-sharing experiences. We deliver new tools alongside our partners, Microsoft and Zoom, to drive this equitable experience for everyone.
As people are getting back into the office, the equitable experience is going to drive the most successful organizations in the new hybrid workplace.
Technology Limitations and Possibilities
SMG Events: What are the limitations of technology in helping improve employee engagement?
Kennedy: If you choose the wrong solutions for your environments, that is going to be a challenge. Not all solutions are created equal. The wrong tool in the wrong room does not deliver that engaging experience. A webcam in a large room is not going to pick up all the participants. I can’t necessarily see or hear everybody.
Having a native solution is a significant differentiator versus 'I’ll just pull up Teams on my laptop and call it a day.' You want the right tool for the right job. For the organizations that do hybrid work, these things are top of mind.
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SMG Events: How can you make sure a digital transformation is successful? How do you make sure everyone involved is on board?
Kennedy: I have been in the video conferencing and visual communications industry for 25 years. It is an exciting time right now. This would have been a more difficult discussion to have pre-COVID. The reality is that right now everyone knows they need these types of tools. There is a global adoption of visual communications, in one way or another.
There are also tools that all the platform players and manufacturers like Crestron are providing, so customers have analytics of what rooms are being used and how they are being used. We have a tool called XiO Cloud that provides those analytics, but it also delivers even more, including software updates and provisioning.
SMG Events: What are some of the hurdles faced in implementation that customers might not expect?
Kennedy: One of the values that Crestron brings to the table is that we are an end-to-end provider of the solutions that go into the room. We can provide microphones, cameras, speakers, lighting, shades, control, room scheduling and even cables.
In order to drive the reliability that customers are demanding, organizations really need to look at the overall solution. One of the things that Crestron is uniquely set up for in the industry is that we can truly enable every piece of technology within the room.
That’s one of the big challenges that a lot of organizations are facing right now. When selecting a competitive device, they might have to glue together three or more different vendors and pray that it works. Crestron provides an ecosystem of technology solutions that work together seamlessly and bring in key partners. The Microsoft and Zoom collaboration platforms are moving fast which is exciting for an end-user as you get a new feature almost every day.
Another challenge a company might face is having to replace hardware at a much faster rate. With Crestron, because we do the whole end-to-end approach, organizations can upgrade pieces without having to upgrade the whole room. As the platform players grow their technologies, you’ll want to choose a vendor that is aligned with them and going to enable that growth as well.
SMG Events: What advice do you have for organizations who want to overhaul their digital experience as part of a digital transformation initiative, but aren’t sure where to begin?
Kennedy: My advice is to talk to us. Crestron is in 90% of Fortune 500 companies and we can assist organizations to transform their workplace. That is what we do with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One™ Team.
My other piece of advice is as relevant today as it has ever been in my 25 years in the industry: Consistency drives adoption. The idea is that the end-user should be able to walk into any room and easily have a call. You want to drive as much consistency as you can, with a native solution that drives meeting equity.
Watch this Digital Workplace Experience session on-demand here.