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  • James Porter

Enterprise adoption video is about people not technology

Companies continue to buy expensive video kit for meeting rooms and wonder why people don't use it" says Ray King, the globally acclaimed business video guru and inventor of the 'Ray Cube'.

"There's a reason why that flat screen monitor and the tangle of wires is gathering dust in the corner of the room! It was put there with the best intentions of course - to enable people and teams to hold video conferences. To communicate face to face, saving people's time, sanity and of course travel costs."

But when planners install video equipment, they tend to overlook the inadequate number of meeting rooms in the organisation - and the rooms remain in constant use for traditional meetings. And when people do try to use the video equipment - they haven't been shown how to operate it properly and can't get it to work - so frustration sets in.

"I created the Ray Cube for just this reason," says King; "I was working on a global project for Vodafone, and all the meeting rooms were in constant use. It dawned on me that the vast atrium would be a perfect place to site a purpose built video pod (or cube), that could only ever be used for video. This was the start of an initiative throughout Vodafone, where there are now over 4,000 video rooms and an embedded culture of 'business video' that has saved them hundreds of millions of euros."

Ray continues; "The other classic mistake companies make is thinking that people are happy to hold video conferences at their desks. I once spent a day just sitting and observing the way people work in open plan offices. It was amazing how few of them stayed at their desks when they made or received a call. The first thing they did was get up and walk around the office, in search of some privacy, a stairwell or corridor where they couldn't be overheard. Collaborative video platforms like WebEx are excellent tools, but in reality, few want to do this at their desk, where the noise may disturb colleagues - and where their sensitive conversations may be overheard."

Remote collaboration, through video and screen sharing, is nothing new, and the growth of applications like Skype for Business and WebEx is booming. Many sessions though are scheduled when working from home, or where there's a degree of privacy in the office, and not everyone has that luxury. In fact, most offices today are open-plan, with people sitting at rows of desks, occasionally ducking below inadequate partitions in search of a modicum of conversational privacy.

Says King; "When you think about it the problem's obvious. The IT department runs the technology, and the property team runs the building. And they're not really working together to provide 'fit for purpose' facilities that are suitable for video meetings. We're currently working on initiatives that address this issue - through smaller video pods and other areas where employees use dedicated spaces for short periods of time, to communicate and collaborate using video."

It's clear that regardless of all the technology and gizmos we have, human nature will always govern the way we behave. And until we understand and take account of this, we'll run up against brick walls we didn't know were there. Concludes Ray; "If companies want to improve employee productivity and communication - they've got to do much more than just throw technology at people." Ray King collaborates with Sei Mani - and was talking with James Porter.

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