By Jeremy Keefe, Area Sales Vice President - UK, Ireland and Benelux, Polycom
You are a modern day worker who enjoys being mobile so you can work from different locations and believe in flexible working as it allows you to be productive. Yet every time you manage to secure yourself a meeting room often it feels like you have walked into a blank space which can definitely do better with a little more hint of technology.
While most workers have moved on, some employers are still trying to catch-up but there is no respite with the rising cost of real estate and inflation hammering down on the economy. Businesses are aware that their workforce is battling time zones every day and it is time they gear up for 2017 by thinking about the types of meeting rooms their workforce requires for delivering the good work while being mobile and flexible.
As a regular participant of meetings, there are several different types of meeting styles that I see frequently.
Type 1 – Meeting room for an in-person discussion:
Mind the word ‘discussion’ here. This is the most common type of meeting room that will be needed as while conducting business across borders is becoming more common some 1-2-1 chats still need to take place. These are often the meetings that kick off a partnership or significant reviews and are the catalysts for driving the next type of meeting room requirements as they often lead to the need for sharing information or for third party participation.
Type 2 – Meeting room for sharing content:
This type of meeting room will attract the most traffic across all groups whether they have two, a few more or a fairly large number of participants. Sharing content in the format of documents such as PowerPoint presentations is not uncommon and it is important to have the right content sharing software solution that is easy to use.
Type 3 – Meeting room for an audio call:
Audio is the backbone of all meetings and the most common way of conducting meetings. Also, it is quite obvious that without proper audio you cannot have a video meeting. A popular means for both booked and ad hoc meetings, more than often you will need to ring someone on their phone for work. Whether it’s on fixed line, mobile, conference phone or Skype for Business, audio-only meetings are essential.
Type 4 – Meeting room for a video call:
You cannot attend all meetings in person at all times, and as more and more people are working from home nowadays, video is becoming an essential part of the day-to-day work. We still believe face-to-face meetings are essential in a working life and therefore travel is still a part of it. If you cannot travel but still want to make the meeting more impactful, you need to attend it on video. Video meetings are important and this is a no-brainer for the digital time we live in today. The benefits felt from video meetings can range from not needing to travel great distances, to being able to get home in time for dinner with the family.
Type 5 – Meeting room for working from anywhere:
Work From Anywhere – a new way of working that doesn’t require you to work from one set location. A small meeting space or a ‘huddle room’ can cater to the needs of workers when they are visiting one of their office sites or any other location. All the other pieces of technology listed above will enable them to find the right meeting space when needed. In addition, software solutions that allow collaboration from the devices of their choice will empower them to work from anywhere.
Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?
MARCO: Most of my background has been working in IT and throughout many different parts of the world. I have over 20 years of international experience in enterprise sales, marketing, and product management. My recent role was with Zebra Technologies where I served as Vice President of Sales for EMEA. In this role, I led the theatre to a highly profitable $1.3 billion success story through a tough economic climate. Prior to Zebra I held a variety of senior positions at Motorola Enterprise, where I led the company’s enterprise business across all markets in EMEA, holding leadership positions in PSION and Symbol (prior to acquisition). I was also part of the leadership team responsible for the acquisition and sales integration of PSION into Motorola in 2012.
What is your top priority in your new role?
MARCO: My top priority is to keep Polycom on the growth trajectory and maintain the profitability of the business we have today. I will do this by identifying areas for growth and try to unearth new untapped opportunities so we can start to gain market share. Peter brought me in to lead a team that is performing extremely well in a relatively static market. My job is to come in as a fresh pair of eyes to search for new areas where we can grow.
What does the first 90 days for you look like?
1: Education. Not being a UC specialist, I want to gain a better understanding of our proposition.
2: I also want to meet the whole team, understand their roles and the structure of the organisation.
3: At the same time I will be meeting with partners, distributors and customers to gain an understanding of their view of the market and their view of Polycom.
I will try to figure out our strengths and look at areas we can draw on and where we can improve. Before the 90 days are up I will have a clear plan with ideas of how to grow and execute against.
Tell us a bit about your leadership style? What do you expect from your team?
MARCO: I am hands on – whether it is numbers, projects, issues – I look at myself as a “Mr. fix it” providing strategic direction and helping to drive the numbers, but also like to help people eliminate obstacles to achieve their goals. I like to solve problems, whether it is technical, GTM, marketing related and like to get into the detail. I have an open style, I am not hierarchal, and I want to motivate people from a personal perspective. I want them to have a leader they can trust and look to me for support. Their success is my success.
Your career in technology spans more than 20 years, how do you see video evolving?
MARCO: I like the fact that we at Polycom have a clear vision. The vision of a future work environment with people using video for meetings regardless of location – whether you are at a hotel, an airport, at home. It ignites my imagination as to how the future can and will look. If Polycom delivers the vision of collaborating across multiple platforms – through seamless communications and making video ubiquitous - to have everyone use it all the time, it makes complete sense to me and it’s a great place to be. I do believe that even though the market is more or less static in EMEA, you can attract different and new types of users. The biggest challenge is the conference phone market. The challenge there is what we are going to do with that market and how to refresh it.
Can you give us one example of how technology has changed your life?
MARCO: I am a prototype for the frequent traveler. I don’t work in an office. I haven’t worked in an office for a few years. In fact, I went to my last office five times in total… I work everywhere, including hotels and home. Technology has enabled me to work this way and has transformed the way I work. Coming to Polycom and using video day-to-day will only reinforce the way I like to work.
You’ve travelled a lot over the years with your various positions. What city has been your favorite so far?
MARCO: It is very hard to say. I have lived in many cities, including Rome, London, Paris, New York and Jakarta. Paris for me rates highly from a cultural perspective. London also has a lot to offer. Rome is a beautiful city with fantastic weather, food and culture. I would say it would be tough for me to decide between them all. Every time I visit a new city I think it might be a new favorite. If I was a millionaire I would have a lot of houses!
At Polycom, work-life balance is important. What do you do when you get some down time?
MARCO: I am firm believer in work-life balance. I enjoy being active, extreme sports and the great outdoors. One of my challenges for this year is to finish climbing the highest mountains in the world; so far I have climbed two of the eight. As part of my routine I enjoy going for a run before settling down to work. It clears my head and keeps my mind active. My weekends are also spent with my family, either in the garden or outdoors somewhere.
I’m a vocal advocate of the benefits of home working, both for the employee and the employer. That’s all very well for jobs like mine, but what about home offices for those who work in different sectors?
There’s a misconception that home offices are only for the lucky few. Actually, there are amazing examples that show that equipping workers with the relevant technology at home will only become more important in the future.
First, look at healthcare. The NHS Cumbria and Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network (CSNLC) has been equipping its on-call consultants with Polycom video collaboration technology at home. By using a desktop application, the consultants are able to connect with a Practitioner Cart at the hospital, where they can view and determine treatment for suspected stroke sufferers. This is particularly important in rural areas, where travelling to the patient in the hospital could waste valuable time. Effectively, the consultants’ homes become the Accident & Emergency department, their equivalent of an office. This kind of home office requires an extremely reliable internet connection, but beyond that, it simply needs a computer and webcam. The consultants still travel to the hospital for regular rounds, but they are able to provide much more effective emergency care by eliminating travel and working from home.
It’s not just doctors who could relocate their offices to their homes. Specialist teachers, such as those delivering foreign language or music lessons, can also benefit from a home office.
For instance, Dumfries and Galloway Council in Scotland realised it could provide more specialist education to children living in rural areas if the teachers weren’t required to travel so far. They invested in video endpoints for the teachers and 120 primary schools, spread across 3,000sq kilometres.
Obviously, it’s not practical for all teachers to work from home – someone needs to be in the classroom – but for specialist teachers who regularly travel between schools, it’s a great way of ensuring that more children benefit from their lessons.
The home office of the future is going to be a far more flexible concept. We’re going to become accustomed to a far more diverse set of professions working from home, using technology which keeps them connected.
Video is going to play a huge part in this. I don’t expect us to have less ‘face time’ with our colleagues and customers, or indeed our patients and pupils. Instead, I believe we’ll have more.