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Case study at a Glance:

Vistaprint’s cross-continent creative and technical teams needed a better way to collaborate on whiteboards remotely.

Kaptivo enables them to continue using whiteboards, but with more efficiency, quickly setting up and conducting remote meetings with none of the information loss that often takes place when whiteboards are involved.

This has produced bottom-line benefits such as quicker time-to-market, and also has opened up new ways of finding the best new hires and working more effectively to develop employees.

Vistaprint is a 2500-person Dutch company with regional headquarters in Boston, Barcelona and Sydney delivering custom marketing products and services to customers in more than 130 countries. Greg Disco, VP of Technology and Transformation, focuses on employee facing technology, which covers everything from IT helpdesk to desktop support to back-office systems. Virtually any form of technology that employees use day-to-day–he and his team ensure it’s delivered in the best way possible.

For an international company, this often means facilitating technical and creative work across continents. “Apps are often designed and built by engineering and design teams that are split between Asia, India, the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world,” explains Greg. As is common for technical and creative teams in most industries, VistaPrint’s folks use whiteboards to communicate visual concepts. “It’s incredibly easy to use a physical whiteboard–that’s why teams use them almost universally.”

To whiteboard or not to whiteboard? A cherished tool is not without its drawbacks

Greg admits that teams used whiteboards extensively, but ‘not very well’. “In the past people would take pictures on personal devices walking around with sensitive company information or presenters would be standing in front of what they’re writing, so information was lost in the process.” On top of this, bad angles, glares, smudges and a presenter that writes and erases too fast can make it difficult to capture key information–issues that are compounded when remote employees are involved. Whiteboarding, to put it bluntly, was extremely problematic for geographically dispersed teams.

Why not use one of the many digital tools touted as a whiteboard replacement? According to Disco, there’s nothing out there that’s user friendly and affordable. The ones that are user-friendly are so expensive they’re not worth it, he says. On the other hand, the ones that aren’t expensive aren’t good. And even the good ones require behaviors that can be pretty awkward, like having to use special pens. “All in all, smartboards and similar solutions offer a less satisfying experience than writing on a physical whiteboard.” The real question, he says, is not whether to use physical whiteboards–it’s a given that they’re going to be used–but rather, how to use them remotely. After a little internet research, he discovered a tool called Kaptivo.

Whiteboarding with all the good, none of bad

Kaptivo digitizes and presents what you put on your whiteboard. “It’s not a whiteboard replacement, but rather an enhancement of a perfectly simple tool that helps people carry on communicating the way they feel comfortable, but with none of the headaches,” said David Hsieh, CEO, Kaptivo. “People love writing on a real whiteboard, and we help them do it more efficiently.”

Kaptivo uses patented digital image processing to render a “perfect” version of the whiteboard. It looks exactly like what is on the board, but better–no glare, smudges, or people in the way–and it improves legibility and crispness for easier reading. The device is installed above any standard dry-erase whiteboard and uses no special pens, downloads, or plugins. You view the whiteboard via the Kaptivo app using a web browser on any device, or share through your favorite video conferencing tool like Zoom, Polycom, Blue Jeans, Lifesize, or others. It automatically chronicles your entire whiteboard session in real-time. When a significant change is made, a new snapshot is saved in a timeline, which you download individually or as multi-page PDFs. Additionally, with a single ‘click’ participants create their own “snapshots” which they can easily download, save or share at any time during the session.

Kaptivo makes it possible to continue with the deeply ingrained communication tactic of whiteboarding, without having to worry about any kind of information loss. “Kaptivo solves issues of remote sharing and makes a whiteboard usable across locations, and it does so at a low price point,” says Disco.

Kaptivo brings bottom-line benefits to a Global Company

So far Kaptivo is used in four physical offices globally, but word is spreading fast. For Geg, Kaptivo has been an easy sell internally. “Basically it’s just a matter of identifying the teams that use whiteboards remotely and letting them try it out. Anyone who has to draw things on a board and then explain it over the phone immediately sees the value.” Aside from happier creative and technical teams, Kaptivo has delivered bottom line benefits, including:

Speed. The ability for teams to get online and start sharing info without having to wait for a conference room means that they can get products to market faster. Often problems that might have taken a day to solve can be resolved within an hour or two.

Centralized data. Rather than having to collect photos captured by team members’ smartphones, employees instantly download a comprehensive timeline of the entire whiteboard session, which can easily be ported into a Trello card.

VistaPrint has also found that the ability to communicate remotely via a whiteboard helps in hiring and developing employees. For instance, interviewers evaluating potential new hires remotely–which occurs quite frequently–can evaluate coding and other technical and creative skills in real-time by asking prospective employees to demonstrate solutions to problems on a whiteboard. And managers can also conduct more productive employee development activities with remote team members, using whiteboards to conduct live performance feedback sessions. In summary, Kaptivo has helped Vistaprint improve collaboration, creativity and efficiency to better serve their global customer base and continue building the stellar reputation of their world-famous brand.