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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is a world-leading professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports more than 148,000 members across 154 countries. As an organisation that operates on an international scale, instant collaboration with colleagues, partners and subcommittees is a necessity for personal and productive communications. We spoke with Martin Amos, IT/AV Infrastructure Manager at the ICAEW, about how Lifesize helps the organisation take the lead in the business and finance sector.
We have been using Lifesize solutions for more than six months for internal and external purposes and have deployed Lifesize HD camera and phone systems in our meeting rooms as part of our subscription to the cloud-based Lifesize platform. The collaboration technology is widely used by more than 700 employees in nine different office locations, from London and Milton Keynes to Dubai. The ICAEW office in London is home to the Auditorium, at One Moorgate Place, a venue that is booked daily for business events. Since deploying Lifesize, we have been able to offer remote attendees, such as regional bodies, the opportunity to attend events via video.
The use of Lifesize has also resulted in a huge reduction in travel time and costs as we use the service to collaborate with potential candidates, members, partners and international subcommittees — including Chartered Accountants Worldwide — from Australia to Russia and the US to India.
In addition to the daily use of video conferencing for instantaneous collaboration, we also use Lifesize for the following projects:
These awards recognise financial leadership in driving sustainable outcomes. Entries that have passed the initial due diligence process are invited to attend assessment meetings as part of the awards process. As we have received an increasing number of international entries, Lifesize video conferencing has enabled to us to accommodate this increase by interviewing the entrants via video as part of the entry process.
This is our largest IT project this year and one that will transform the way we do business. By simplifying and standardising our processes and ways of working, we plan to increase internal agility to make it easier and faster to respond to future opportunities and challenges. The Milton Keynes-based project team uses Lifesize daily to meet with the support team in India as the solution allows the team to provide live demos, which are then recorded with Lifesize Record and Share so the project team can reference them whenever needed.
We use ON24, a cloud-based marketing platform, across our entire webinar programme. The purposes of these online events range from technical updates to stakeholder briefings. They are also used as a commercial vehicle and for training and development purposes. Audiences for these events can vary from members to nonmembers to students and others, so by using Lifesize during our webinars, presenters are now visible to the attendees, adding a personal element to the webinar.
I was tasked with replacing our existing video conferencing provider and chose Lifesize due to the worldwide support, ease of use, interoperability and overall quality of the solution. By deploying Lifesize, not only do we save a significant amount of time for our IT team as users are able to intuitively and instantly join a call without any additional assistance, the technology is truly easy to use. End users can dial in directly from their locations using local dial-in numbers and from any device, and they can even invite guests to join the calls just by a single link. I tested the Lifesize solution myself and was impressed with its ease of use, and my director tested the solution with no preparation at all and was able to connect straight away. This was a good indication for us that Lifesize was the provider we wanted to work with.
While ease of use is a key criterion for us when selecting a video conferencing provider, interoperability was also an important consideration. Lifesize solutions have integrated seamlessly with our existing solutions, and desktop plug-ins aren’t even required. It’s also much quicker and more stable than our previous solution, which involved hosting their cloud service through a UK partner.
Other important deciding factors that stood out to me were the superior video and audio quality, scalability and reliability of the Lifesize solution. It’s a massively superior system at almost half the cost of the system it replaced.
The IT team provided a step-by-step process about how to use the system on our intranet site. We also targeted super-users, those we knew who would use the solution a great deal, in each department to champion the solution and help train their team members. We are able to monitor usability and essentially troubleshoot any problems in real time using the Lifesize Admin Console, therefore ensuring a seamless experience for all users.
Lifesize has been very well accepted by staff. Our staff members found the collaboration software and hardware reliable and easy to use. First-time users have been able to use the solution with minimal fuss, eliminating any hesitation when needing to use the system again.
Simply put, video provides a much better and more personal experience than audio alone. Video enables us to know someone by sight, not just by sound, and immediately improves the quality and productivity of our meetings.
Our internal communication process has been a journey of continuous evolution and improvement, one in which I have great faith. All it takes is one bad experience for someone to decide they won’t use video conferencing again, but everyone who has used Lifesize has been impressed, so usage will continue to grow. We have already seen a significant reduction in travel costs, as well as environmental savings.
The way we see it, Lifesize plays a critical role in the build-out of our global work profile and in our ability to influence and support our members. By investing in cutting-edge, cloud-based technology, we are able to offer solutions to our members, partners and subcommittees. We can cater to all their needs — recording calls, dialing in from tablets, sharing content, local dial-in numbers and a host of other functionalities — without having to host any of it in our own data centre.
One of our key focuses will be integration with existing solutions used by the ICAEW, in particular Skype for Business. The relationship between Lifesize and Skype for Business is mutual, making communication and collaboration truly smooth and seamless.
We are also keen to start using Lifesize Live Stream to bring together all staff members across the world for live quarterly meetings. Not only can you broadcast to up to 10,000 viewers, you can also enable 50 video sites per call across a variety of browsers, which is perfect for large audiences and company-wide meetings.
I want to grow usage externally for distance learning, member services and events. Internal usage has been such a success, so I would like to replicate this externally.