Two of the most important benefits of enterprise-grade cloud video conferencing are the ability to join meetings from any device and the ease of collaborating on data-rich, multimedia files in real time. Design and engineering firms with multiple offices and geographically dispersed clients and work sites have much to gain in this arena. When cross-team cooperation is critical to success, many of these firms rely on the flexibility and connectivity that Lifesize Cloud provides.

To hear more about this particular story, we sat down with Won Cho, head of IT at Knight E/A. Knight is a full-service engineering and architecture firm specializing in a wide variety of planning, design and management projects. The Chicago-based company has more than 130 employees in five offices located across the Midwest and one in Guam.

What business problem have you been grappling with?

For some time, we’ve been looking for ways to collaborate with multiple satellite and field offices in locations where we have a business presence. Before Lifesize, there was always a barrier.

In our satellite and field offices, where so much of our deliverable depends on the best thinking across the group, it’s always better to see someone talking and to show images or AutoCAD and MicroStation drawings. This was critical for ensuring design was on track. Before this, we always had to send clients an FTP link or PDF file.

Now, via Lifesize, our teams can collaborate without having to wait; they call each other directly on video in lieu of using the phone, and they can bring other participants into a call from anywhere, at any time. It’s amazingly flexible. We looked at competing solutions, but when we heard about Lifesize Cloud, we realized how much we could save in terms of capital investment. On-premise solutions came with humongous upfront costs. Whenever my peers ask me about video conferencing, I always steer them toward Lifesize.

What are your IT infrastructure goals?

Strengthening business opportunity through strategic technology planning, enterprise road maps and execution. Our goal was to maximize ROI and provide sustainable tools for our users across all of our systems, from video conferencing to servers, file accessing, collaboration tools, and so on. Since then, we’ve performed many types of upgrades and are continuing to virtualize environments. In the process, it’s important that we help the executive staff understand why we need certain changes and align my philosophical view in IT with our executive staff. “Run the business, grow the business, and transform the business through IT.”

Many of Lifesize’s competitors can do similar things, but cost is the bottom line. Some of Lifesize’s competitors came in at nearly triple what we paid, and that was for just one office. We have to really examine whether an investment makes sense. If we’re paying a lot of money upfront, is it something we’re even going to use down the line? Is the solution scalable?

You joined the Lifesize family right after the launch of Cloud in mid-2014. What are your thoughts on its evolution?

When we first were introduced to Lifesize’s cloud-based solution, we were skeptical. But during the presentation, the sales rep gave us a demo connecting to his team with his iPhone® app, before the service was even launched. We thought, If this is the way it’s going to work, unifying people across platforms, let’s do it. Since then the service has regularly added valuable features and functions, and the quality has always been superb. We’ve never had any issues.

Anything surprise you?

Before Lifesize Cloud, we only used video conferencing for senior staff meetings across our satellite offices. We were using WebEx and a webcam, and the picture was always distorted. And for collaboration, we used email, which was a delayed process. Now video (along with Lifesize’s presentation functionality) is an essential tool for daily business for all of our projects across our offices.  Internally, our teams review drawings on the spot, and externally, clients join Lifesize Cloud on their phones to share their feedback.  It’s streamlined our process—no more calling, no more driving. It’s a great tool for running our business.

What would you say are some of your favorite Lifesize features?

The ability to join a video conference from any device is key for us. I am able to join from my smartphone, my tablet or my PC. We have frequent meetings, so I like how we can set them all up on the cloud where everyone can come and go as they please, rather than us having to dial each other. The system also supports audio-only calls, which is helpful for clients who have restrictive corporate IT protocols. Some clients just install Lifesize Cloud on their smartphones to solve this issue. There’s always a way to join.

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