There is a reason why so many companies, like Voya Financial, have been reluctant to move beyond flip charts and embrace real collaboration and communications solutions.
This scenario is all-too-common. People trickle into a conference room for a meeting, and as everyone gets ready to get down to business someone asks someone else for help setting up the presentation equipment.
And then they ask someone else, who asks someone else and pretty soon the the meeting host sprints out of the conference room, frantically searching for anyone in the office who knows how to connect a laptop to the projector or flat screen in the meeting room.
Meanwhile, precious minutes burn away as the meeting attendants get increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated.
It’s not ideal, and yet, it’s omnipresent.
“It was fantastic to see how Solstice supports a more engaged meeting culture” — Mersive founder, CTO Christopher Jaynes, PhD.
That’s why collaboration solutions that are easy to install and – most importantly – foolproof for end users to operate are worth their weight in gold.
And that’s what Voya Financial was looking for, and exactly what it found when it installed Mersive Solstice Pods in several offices across the country in the past year.
For the investment firm (formerly ING), it was a light-speed trip out of the stone age: as recently as five years ago, the company’s primary collaboration tools were flip charts.
Yes, the giant paper pads you draw on with Sharpies.
“That’s what the culture was, very little video conferencing used. What they used wasn’t reliable,” says Matthew Lesoveck, whom Voya Financial hired to develop and lead the execution of roadmap to bring its capabilities up to date.
A key element of that road map was enhancing not just formal meeting capabilities, but informal collaboration, too.
And the company went all-in to do it, building casual meeting areas throughout its offices, from high-top tables and seats with monitors on the tables that Voya Financial calls Genius Bars (no offense, Apple), to soft-seating areas with couches surrounding wall-mounted monitors separated by privacy screens, and even restaurant-style booths where employees can grab a coffee and sit down and review shared media on small monitors at one end of the tables.
The common thread through all of the installations was the company’s desire to enable easy, informal communication and collaboration among employees.
“When you start sharing ideas and you start sharing thoughts, it snowballs into something bigger when you’re working on these projects and things like that. It tends to speed up the process,” says Lesoveck.
“We noticed things not getting missed as much because people are sharing ideas and timelines and thoughts, and they have the technology now that they have access to on a daily basis.”
Implementing Mersive Solstice Pods
At the heart of those communal collaboration spaces are the Mersive Solstice Pods, which are as easy to operate as they are to set up.
All a user does is turn on the Pod-connected display of their choice, and either connect to it wirelessly by entering an IP address shown on the display screen into a web browser, or through the Solstice app. That’s it.
It’s even easier for whoever installs the Mersive Solstice Pods: Each Solstice Pod comes in a box with four items – a set of instructions, the Pod itself, a DC 5.2-volt power cord, and an HDMI 1.4 with audio output.
It’s as simple as plugging in the HDMI cable between the Pod and your preferred display, and plugging the Pod’s power cord into an outlet.
“We noticed things not getting missed as much because people are sharing ideas and timelines and thoughts, and they have the technology now that they have access to on a daily basis” — Matthew Lesoveck.
“It’s a simple technology. You don’t have to worry about cables and people plugging stuff in the wrong way. It’s simply walk up, and the screen tells you what to do,” Lesoveck says.
That simplicity is good for collaboration, but it’s also good for a company’s bottom line when it comes to support services.
“When you’re looking at what it costs to support a certain product line, there’s products out there that are very labor intensive for IT to be able to support those products,” Lesoveck says.
“These products are not labor intensive for IT to be able to support them. They’re very simple to use, and the end users are self-sufficient with them. We’re not having to dispatch technicians on site and look at these.”
For Mersive, it’s good to see exactly how an organization is integrating Solstice into its work flow. As such, founder and CTO Christopher Jaynes, PhD, visited Voya Financial to see first-hand.
“It was fantastic to see how Solstice supports a more engaged meeting culture. I also think the deployment speaks to the enterprise features we’ve been focusing on in the road map over the past 18 months.”
So far, theVoya Financial effort to spark communication and collaboration has paid off, with employees from all departments – from IT to financial services – reaping the benefits.
Formal meetings are efficient like never before, with participants now able to easily share multiple documents from their devices at the same time, on the same screen, saving time and effort – and Sharpies.
“[T]he value seems to come from driving projects within the organization and having the ability to view multiple documents at the same time and very easily flip them up to the screen, pull that document down, and go on to the next one, or even have three documents up at the screen at once, comparing revisions and things like that,” Lesoveck says.
“That seems to be really how people are utilizing the product right now.”
Some of the credit for that goes to Lesoveck, according to Mersive’s Jaynes.
“Matt and his team are making use of the Solstice dashboard for centralized management and enterprise features like network QoS to support their Solstice infrastructure,” he says.
“These enterprise components are probably as important as end-user features are in making the project such a success.”
Meanwhile, the informal collaboration spaces – through the Mersive Solstice Pods – are changing the company’s day-to-day office culture.
“There are always people sitting there and collaborating and exchanging ideas and working on projects and things like that. The feedback from leadership has been very good,” Lesoveck says.
“[The Mersive Solstice Pods are] always there, they’re always working, and it really makes your average day at the office where you need to go collaborate, and then you move to another space, and you’re talking in this meeting and that meeting, it makes it seamless for our end users.”
“It’s just part of their day. At the end of the day, to me, that’s what technology needs to be. It needs to be a seamless part of your day.”
For Lesoveck, it’s been rewarding journey to lead the company from where it was, to where it is now.
“[J]ust seeing that culture shift from people just so used to using flip charts and things like that to now using these technologies that you’ve deployed over the years, it’s really been amazing,” he says. “Good journey.”