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A look at how an IT Solutions company implemented Lifesize to improve cross-team cooperation.

“It’s important that we provide the right tools for our teams so that they can accomplish what they need, regardless of their physical location.”

When cross-team cooperation is critical to success, many companies count on video conferencing to streamline communications and accelerate results. Also, teams frequently need to connect from multiple environments, whether they’re conference rooms, individual workspaces or worksites in the field. Lifesize Cloud enables users to connect from a range of devices wherever they are, but these days one of the more common use cases is a hybrid approach, where multiple users are joining meetings from multiple platforms.To hear more about this particular kind of implementation, we sat down with Christopher Thompson, IT infrastructure manager for Westwood Professional Services,  Inc. Westwood provides multidisciplined surveying and engineering services for commercial and residential development, renewable energy, power delivery and oil and gas projects. The company serves clients across the nation from multiple U.S. office locations.

How and when did Westwood start using Lifesize?

We consider ourselves to be a forward-looking company as far as technology goes. We began using Lifesize about a year ago, right before Lifesize Cloud was introduced. Each of our offices has its own Lifesize Icon system in its primary conference room. Nowadays we also use the Lifesize Cloud desktop client for our power users.

Lately Westwood has implemented a number of initiatives focused on team engagement and collaboration. Is there a driving force behind this? How do you think collaboration is changing the workforce?

With the proliferation of high speed Internet, geographical location has become much less important. As an IT professional, there’s really no reason in my mind why we shouldn’t be able to provide essentially the same interactive experience no matter where someone is located. As an engineering company, we have employees out in the field at all times. They work on large pipeline and power projects that span several hundred miles across the US and Canada. It’s important that we provide the right tools for our teams so that they can accomplish what they need, regardless of their physical location.

Can you talk more about how your teams use Lifesize in particular?

Lifesize is in nearly constant use, especially in our conference rooms. We have at least one business head at each of our offices, and they may be responsible not just for their particular office or region but for an entire market. It’s important for our managers to be able to connect face to face to discuss the trends or projects they’re working on. We also see frequent use of the Lifesize Cloud desktop client, particularly in our smaller offices. One of these is only about ten people, but the office manager there is responsible for one of our larger markets. He is constantly using Lifesize on his laptop not only for one-on-one conversations but to speak with entire conference rooms full of people. We also make heavy use of the screen-sharing function.

Is there anything else you like about Lifesize Cloud in particular?

I appreciate that Lifesize is continuing to develop its web app for HTML5. This feature is beneficial to our clients because they are not required to download or install anything. Or, if they do need to download something, it’s very small and it can be completed without needing administrator rights. We currently use Lifesize internally, but we want to start using it more with our clients. If we are going to be collaborating with third parties, the system needs to be incredibly simple. I noticed that Lifesize is making progress in this capacity, and this is important because those capabilities are the future of business communications.

Can you talk more about how you foresee using Lifesize to communicate with your customers?

I can envision a couple of different scenarios. I can see people using Lifesize Cloud in one-on-one interactions from their desks, just like they would with WebEx. I can also see us holding entire conference meetings using the room-based systems. I have done some testing, and I am happy to say I’ve been able to integrate Lifesize with Cisco and Polycom systems through the cloud. That is a very positive capability.

What are some of your other favorite Lifesize features?

The touchscreen on the Lifesize Phone is one of the most important features and something most people can pick up pretty easily. Also, the HD video syncs so well with audio and provides so much clarity of detail that video conferencing stops being a novelty and becomes a useful tool. Data sharing is another really important feature.

Aside from easier collaboration, have there been any other tangible benefits since implementing Lifesize?

At one time, I remember our VP of Finance seeking us out because he was so pleased to see our travel bills in decline! We host monthly ‘town hall’ style meetings and quarterly business planning meetings. More and more, these meetings are being attended remotely over Lifesize.

What advice would you have for others considering video conferencing?

Research is important. And when it comes to installation, details matter, like the camera height and the distance between the camera and the end of the table. Other than that, it’s pretty simple to get on board with Lifesize. The easier it is, the greater the adoption will be.