Editor’s Note: Commercial Integrator has teamed up with the IMCCA, the New York-based non-profit industry association for unified communication and workplace collaboration, to produce a quarterly supplement, titled Collaboration Today and Tomorrow, that focuses on all things collaboration from multiple perspectives.
Collaboration Today and Tomorrow chats with RoomReady’s Aaron McArdle on the drive for meeting spaces to be simple, while also ensuring that rooms across the country — and across the world — are deployed consistently.
Collaboration Today and Tomorrow: What dominant trends are you seeing in collaboration today?
Aaron McArdle: It’s still more of the same: the gross simplification of collaboration meeting spaces. Our goal has always been to simplify meeting spaces, and, so, this is just a continuation of that for us. We were seeing that trend begin pre-COVID-19, and it just continues to be reinforced as we move further and further away from it. Organizations want more rooms that are video-enabled…collaboration-enabled…for less price. And they’re willing to make compromises to accommodate that.
CT&T: How do RoomReady solutions align with these dominant trends?
McArdle: In 2015 or 2016 is when we really started to focus on the RoomReady portion of our business. And that was, simple is better [and] speed matters. We could deliver better solutions for our customer if we could take out unnecessary parts…if we could talk them through the value of a simple system. So, we’ve been doing this for a very long time. And then, along with the simplification of systems also comes the value of documentation, accuracy [and] consistency. Not only should the meeting room in New York function exactly like the meeting room in Los Angeles for an organization, it also should be exactly the same material, wired exactly the same [and] documented exactly the same. And there’s a real art to that, actually. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. And, so, the more systems that we put in place, the complexity lies then in the consistency between the delivery of the solution.
And, so, that’s where we’ve shifted our focus. You know, RoomReady, at one time, we were trying to develop really the next big thing from a software standpoint. We have 12 patents on collaboration equipment processes. And our focus now, in the last several years, has really just become, “How can we do simple better than anyone in the world?” And that’s what we continue to chase.
CT&T: Does the idea of meeting equity align with those ideas of uniformity and consistency?
McArdle: That probably is the single largest shift from pre-COVID-19 to post-COVID-19. You used to look at the person who was the remote participant — the person not in the meeting room — as the person who was at the disadvantage. And so, when we were talking about systems and meeting equity, we were saying, “OK, well, Joe and Jane are remote, and so we want to give them as good of an experience as possible. So, we want the microphones in the room to be tuned well. We want to be able to hear everyone. We want to be able to see the whole room on camera. And then, we come back spending from a year or longer working from home — having a talking head in front of us — right? And it zoomed in on everyone in the meeting.
And, now, the people at home, at their workstation, with multiple monitors, all their tools in front of them…they’re at the advantage in the meeting space. The people who are sitting in the meeting room are at somewhat of a disadvantage. So, the meeting equity and trying to create equity across all participants has shifted where our focus is. And so, as the systems are now shifting toward that, you see it with all the manufacturers coming out with intelligent framing or people focus. That’s a huge shift. And also, that’s a huge shift from the design aspect, where the integrator’s not the one driving the innovation into that space; it’s the platform and the hardware manufacturer.
So, as the integrator, again, our job is just to install the room exactly how the manufacturer and the platform require us to do it. Don’t try to get too slick with custom applications. Because the platform provider is probably going to change things regularly. And so, if you build something for the now, there’s a strong chance you put your customer at a disadvantage in the future. So, it’s more important than ever to just follow the script.
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