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HVAC experts rely on Lifesize and Microsoft Skype for Business to seamlessly connect more than 2,000 employees worldwide.

“Every employee
can start a virtual
meeting with
the highest
video quality,
without changing
applications. This
literally puts
communication
on a whole
different level.”

Headquartered in Switzerland, the Zehnder Group is one of the
leading providers of HVAC and controlled domestic ventilation
systems across Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Benelux,
Austria and Switzerland. We spoke with Ercan Yapalak, head of
IT services at Zehnder, to better understand their collaboration challenges and their
approach.

When did the Zehnder Group get serious about conferencing?

Our IT department spent years trying to crack the conferencing code. First we tried
web conferencing solutions, but the results were unreliable at best. Then, about
four years ago, we saw a significant increase in travel across the company. Our fleet
of vehicles was always fully booked, travel costs were increasing substantially and
employees were always on the move instead of working productively. If we could cut
travel costs, we knew a high-quality video communication solution would be a smart
investment.

What were you looking for? What were your deal-breakers?

We evaluated several video conferencing solutions from established providers, in
fact, we carried out extensive tests. We found the competitors, products had
blips and other artefacts in the picture or the video transmission was broken off
completely. That was absolutely unacceptable. On the other hand, the Lifesize
solution impressed us the most in terms of its price/performance ratio. We also
really appreciated the special algorithm that flexibly adjusts the video quality to the
available bandwidth.

What were your core considerations to move to the cloud?

First we used a hybrid solution, with Lifesize room systems installed in conference
rooms across Switzerland, Germany, China, France and the U.S., as well as a leased
multipoint control unit with Lifesize’s managing software. Then, our needs evolved,
and we wanted a more permanent solution that was easy to install while still being
reasonably priced. We have very high requirements for security and stability; so
much so, we originally intended to host the Lifesize solution in a private cloud.
However, our evaluations found that Lifesize Cloud met all of our requirements
without any of the responsibilities.

From a deployment standpoint, we wanted a service where every employee could easily
establish a connection between video-enabled devices, from smartphones and laptops
through to professional video systems for meeting rooms. Plus, we wanted any user to
be able to set up the video connection and be able to invite any number of participants,
without relying on our IT team. The Lifesize Cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model
only placed modest demands on IT.

What were your interoperability requirements?

With the move to Office 365, Lifesize’s seamless Microsoft Skype for Business
integration became critical. Every employee can start a virtual meeting, with the
highest video quality, without changing applications. This literally puts communication
on a whole different level.

Last, Zehnder benefits from Lifesize Cloud’s single sign-on (SSO) ability. Since we use
Active Directory for user administration, we were able to seamlessly integrate Lifesize
Cloud with our current directory during the installation.

When our company’s Skype for Business integration is complete, we expect that every
employee using the Microsoft communication platform will also use Lifesize for video
at the same time. This means that more than 2,000 employees worldwide can start
a video conference from their workstation, at any time, to anyone. This also makes
collaboration with external partners who are using third-party solutions easier than
ever.

Any final thoughts?

The more we use the Lifesize system, the clearer the benefits become. In terms of time
and resources, staff deployment is now significantly more efficient and the employees’
work-life balance seems more balanced than before. Personally, I often had to spend
over three hours travelling to Switzerland; now I can now save this dead time, and the
benefits for colleagues in countries farther north are even greater. Across the company,
the feedback from the employees is also very positive. I’ve only heard good things about
it. There are no reports of disconnections, and we’re very satisfied with the quality.