This week’s guest blog comes to us from Stuart Gale, who is always thinking about better ways to use technology for living and working. Stuart is head of infrastructure at Intelligent Energy, which develops efficient and clean energy technology for the global consumer electronics, automotive, and distributed power and generation markets. Intelligent Energy uses Polycom RealPresence solutions to bring its global workforce together to design and manufacture renewable energy
sources like the amazing Upp portable fuel cell.
Imagine you have something important to communicate to a room full of people. Do you sequester yourself off in a corner? Or do you get out there in the middle of things, making sure everyone has easy access to your genius?
Unless you’re a hopeless contrarian (or a hopelessly bad planner), you’ll opt for the latter. Yet I’m mystified daily by companies that, whether they realize it or not, keep communication and collaboration in a virtual corner.
They do this by relying on proprietary collaboration platforms that don’t work with competing solutions. Years ago, of course, this was the typical approach of video conferencing vendors; it was a ploy to keep you buying their stuff. And it led to absurd conversations like this:
Ben: “Hey, let’s meet on video.”
Maggie: “Brilliant! What do you use?”
Ben: “Brand A.”
Maggie: “Well, we use Brand B. So let’s both contact our IT guys to see if they can punch through our firewalls and get us connected.”
Ben: “We’ll probably need to do a test call ahead of time.”
Maggie: “At least one.”
Ben: “Yikes. This should be easier.”
Ben’s right. As this scenario shows, purchasing proprietary systems is about as smart as deploying desk phones that only work with phones from that same manufacturer.
For collaboration to move from the corner to the center of the room – of every room – we need systems that let people simply connect in a way that’s as easy and universally interoperable as calling someone on the phone. What we need is a universal translator, something capable of enabling Brand A to speak to Brand B with no effort on the part of the user. And thanks to the convergence of industry standards and the cloud, that translator is here.
It comes in the form of solutions like Polycom’s RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite, which brings face-to-face collaboration to any network-connected user equipped with a browser and a web camera, a tablet, or a smartphone. Inside or outside your organization, it doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter what they’re using on the other side. And people can invite anyone they want to join their virtual meeting through an email, IM message, or calendar invite. They can also interactively share content over a browser.
This is groundbreaking stuff, and it’s tremendously powerful to someone like me who frequently travels overseas – a topic I hope to explore in a follow-up blog. And as an IT guy, I’ve discovered even more reasons to love cloud-based collaboration. Among them:
IT doesn’t have to select, install, and maintain software on a range of clients
Employees can safely use their own phones and tablets to collaborate
IT no longer has to put resources behind setting up, verifying, and babysitting every video call
Worries over which platforms your partners, customers, or other collaborators use are long gone
At Intelligent Energy, we use Polycom systems to break down barriers and defy distance across time zones, continents, and cultures. As this profile shows, smart use of voice, video, and content collaboration lets us fast track the development of some of the world’s most innovative clean energy solutions.
It’s inevitable that more companies will make smarter use of the cloud for collaboration. And when they do, they can finally bring this crucial capability out of the corner and into the center of everything, right where it belongs.