AV News May 2022

Page 7

Solutions Profile

Is the future of global hybrid collaboration a Thunderbolt from the past? PolyVision’s Thunder unveiled at Maverick in March 2006 We are in a moment of change. We’ve had these moments before, but this one is very different. Enabling people in different locations to collaborate effectively has long been the holy grail of technology companies. Back in March 2006, many of the good and great in AV gathered alongside Jon Sidwick at Maverick’s Green Park office in Reading, for the unveiling of PolyVision’s Thunder - the multiple display collaboration system that, we were then convinced, had the potential to change how technology would enable collaboration on a global scale. Thunder’s array of projected images containing digital files and hand-written electronic flipcharts, looked like a compelling solution for ideation, problem solving, process development, and more. Duncan Peberdy explains what happened next. The reimagining of technology from yesteryear is nothing new. CopyCam, the Steelcase camera development that captured the content of a large dry-erase whiteboard and saved the image to your network or a 3.5” floppy disk [the clunky forerunner to a micro-USB drive for our younger readers!], was spookily similar to Crestron’s AirBoard development a dozen or more years later. Today, Scribe from Logitech is also having a go at the digital capture of handwritten meeting content. And if your CopyCam was located in a meeting room that was managed by RoomWizard, the very first screen-based room booking system, and another Steelcase first, that integrated with Outlook and Lotus Notes, then those captured writing board notes could be automatically sent to all the meeting participants. And we all know the Evoko’s, Visneto’s and Condecco’s that have subsequently taken room booking systems to the next level. For most of the last two years, where we’ve worked, how we’ve worked, and who we’ve worked with, have been determined by the necessity of government directives to protect populations, and not in purposely designed office spaces. Remote working was not new for many people, and there is always work best completed within the solitude of isolation. But being socially together in offices, having robust interchanges of ideas when we meet to share information or create solutions, are the types of in-

teractions that we’ve struggled to replicate over distance. Social interaction, that builds trust, allows for spontaneity and provides us with a holistic viewpoint that we can’t get from just our laptop screen in a home office, helps us to create deeper connections between those present, and to dive deeper into innovative ideas for problem solving or creating new goods and services. Our ‘moment of change’ might also be described as a tension between corporations, who largely want to return to how things were, and their employees who, having been part of an impromptu experiment in how we work, have valued not having to commute five days each week, and are questioning the necessity to do so moving forwards. So whether it’s the next Covid, another Putin-esque disaster, or climate change, this new flexibility uncovered by the mass requirement for remote working, the improved work-life balance [that we’ve paid lip-service to but realistically kept at arm'slength for decades] along with mental health benefits, has the potential to increase productivity too. It’s also an inconvenient truth that many organisations haven’t yet figured out where hybrid sits in their strategies, and how many more resignations and the resulting exodus of talent are required before they take ownership. Innovation spaces, collaboration rooms, and customer experience centres are purposely designed to maximise their ef-

fectiveness with furniture and technology that are not present in huddle rooms or our home offices. Consequently, workflows fall down when we want to connect people in those different spaces with different tools to work together, as will increasingly be the case. And so the fallback is to use the tools that everyone has, most commonly Microsoft Teams or Zoom, which are really great for connecting people, but not for underpinning effective visual collaboration between hybrid teams. All too often we think the solution is to put a large format interactive screen on the wall. Yes, everyone present can see the content better, but the real effectiveness is constrained by the fact that one person is usually controlling it with a cast from their laptop, or the account they’ve signed into at the device, and it’s their content they are typically dominating with. PolyVision knew the power of multiple pieces of content from multiple participants in multiple locations, they just couldn’t figure out technically how to deploy Thunder in a way that was a good customer experience. Both individuals and corporations would thrive if we could actually achieve those same in-person benefits when not everyone was in the same room together. That would be a game changer. It would not only allow us to be highly effective in an increasingly hybrid world that is clearly here to stay, but it would provide businesses with the

real opportunity, a commercial advantage, to react more quickly when situations that demand such agility arise. Forget about the tangible savings of airfares, hotel bills and corporate dining, and concentrate instead on the business advantage of being able to effectively hold such human interactions between people in different places at the same time NOW, instead of the days waiting to bring people physically together. Hybrid is not only a mix of where people are located, but the option to work in the most effective location. Being in the office will still be important, just not all of the time. And when workers do go to the office, it won’t be to sit in isolated offices or booths, but instead to be in open environments for collaboration, for delivering customer experiences, for spontaneous interactions. In fact, we will need more of these spaces purposely designed and technologically equipped so that those not present feel ever more connected to their colleagues. Sometimes we fear change, but when change improves both our effectiveness and satisfaction at work and enables more flexibility for our personal lives, then everyone benefits, and change is a force for good. This is what our current moment of change must achieve, for the long term.

ThinkHub by T1V Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, T1V [the company name stands for “A Team with 1 Vision”], has slowly but surely been enabling leading global organisations to tap into the power of visual collaboration, and has a small range of software solutions for different collaborative meeting and learning environments. The immediate response might be a WOW moment, but there’s far more going on than just great technology at work. Crucially, ThinkHub helps address the real needs of businesses and educators looking for a commercial advantage through effective collaboration over distance, by enabling multiple WOW moments - or Ways Of Working. At the outset, ThinkHub’s original strength was to give in-room teams a large visual canvas that everyone could contribute content and ideas to, and for that content to be manipulated, arranged, and shared intuitively to drive project success. Multiple ThinkHubs, located anywhere in the world, can mirror their content and allow anyone, anywhere to be fully active in collaboration with colleagues, clients or suppliers. By not limiting content to just the presenter and allowing anyone anywhere to fully participate, ThinkHub provides everyone with an equity of participation and increased social belonging

when located in corporate offices that are separated geographically. It’s common for the software platforms that organisations use in their flagship collaboration and customer experience spaces to be different to the software people use in more traditional meetings spaces and on their laptops. With the release of ThinkHub Cloud, a development two years in the making, T1V has addressed the needs of remote workers to be more integral to hybrid meetings and provided businesses with the ability to connect hybrid teams in a way not previously possible. ThinkHub Cloud delivers the same in-room benefits to hybrid workers based away from their offices. The working canvas that in-room colleagues find so powerful for teamwork also resides in real time on their laptop providing the same affordances of inclusive human belonging to every meeting space; collaboration spaces, meeting rooms, and remote working. It’s the missing link that solves historical problems of not-being-there when joining meetings remotely, and gives everyone social interaction, a holistic viewpoint of all the content, and parity of participation. Greater inclusion can only lead to greater work satisfaction and reduces the likelihood of talent leaving to work for organisations that better meet their new hybrid needs.

About the author Back in 2006 when PolyVision’s Thunder launched, Duncan Peberdy was spearheading their European sales. More recently, Duncan has been a visionary in the development of active collaborative learning for universities and colleges, creating a roadshow in partnership with Jisc that was single-handedly responsible for the development of hundreds of active collaborative learning classrooms across the whole of the UK and bits of Europe too. This February, Duncan joined T1V as their European Territory manager to evangelise the new opportunities for better hybrid working that ThinkHub enables, and works with end users to create the demand, and channel partners to create the push. A similar consultative approach that made the roadshow approach so successful for higher and further education and the integration companies that fulfilled the demand created. Duncan will be at ISE in May, and ThinkHub will be featured in the AV Collective Roadshows in London, Leeds and Dublin this autumn. You can contact Duncan at: dpeberdy@t1v.com or +44 [0] 7887 628 567.

P7 AV News May 2022

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