Collaboration Solutions: Reimagining “Working Together"

Joel Semeniuk, Chief Innovation Officer Technological innovations are propelling enterprises into previously unknown territory such as the Internet of Thing (IoT), big data, cloud, mobility, social, and wearables. These technological innovations do more than just enhance the way businesses operate; they inspire completely new ways of doing business – a pivotal perspective for the modern enterprise to consider if they are to survive.

The challenge is in how people work together using a combination of new digital technologies applied to new business models - commonly referred to as “digital disruption” providing startups and enterprises opportunities for a competitive advantage or to simply remain relevant.

Effective digital-collaboration is a keystone capability that not only increases productivity by making it easier for employees to share knowledge and communicate, but is also the very mechanism that organizations will use to act on new opportunities to disrupt the fabric of their business. In order to attract and retain top talent enterprises are faced with providing new innovative mobile collaboration experiences.

In order to take full advantage of productivity enabled by digital collaboration, enterprises need to go beyond Audio- Visual (AV) into a more holistic view of collaboration that spans physical collaborative spaces and furnishings, devices and equipment, communication platform, and applications and content that, when used together, can deliver seamless and productive collaboration experiences. Los Angeles, CA based Collaboration Solutions (CSi) does exactly that; inspires innovation by empowering collaboration.

Addressing the Continuum of Collaboration

To encompass the collaborative continuum, CSi offers a full range of solutions; from the design of collaborative work spaces and furnishings; to the design, installation and support of AV, Skype for Business, and enterprise applications (including the Microsoft platform); to the creation of custom business solutions and collaboration products that span the complete range of digital experience.

“Enterprises struggle with creating more effective interactions and collaboration experiences to drive productivity, and the creativity required to tackle the rapidly changing business landscape,” sighs Jeremy Short, CEO, CSi.

Exemplifying this, CSi worked with a major music company to update AV and Unified Communication (UC) services that included network tuning to support the high bandwidth requirements of modern digital collaboration.

Beyond the music company’s boardroom AV and UC needs they faced additional collaboration challenges such as the need of their sales team to share and play media (HD audio and video) for remote clients to experience and gauge their reactions first-hand.

“Media playback over online meetings, such as Goto Meeting, WebEx or Skype for Business, can cause significant issues such as prolonged buffering times, poor audio support, and potential security concerns,” states Short.

The music company needed a better solution, and CSi rapidly developed a new patent pending product called Shared Media Player™ (SMP) to address this critical need.

SMP allows for secure, simultaneous playback of media files on multiple devices across remote locations. Play, pause, or seek operations can be invoked from any location and synchronized across devices seamlessly. SMP’s playback quality is maximized for the bandwidth and hardware of each location, resulting in a fluid and seamless shared media experience.
CSi continues to grow SMP to include multi-file support, for additional media types, and additional security features.

“We are frequently asked "Where have you been, we've been looking for a partner just like you.”

Transforming into a New Vision of Collaboration

CSi began focused on the AV market, forming deep partnerships with manufacturers such as Crestron, Microsoft, NEC, Biamp, SMART and Planar and NEC among others. Short realized that customers wanted more than AV, needing services such as Unified Communications to help connect remote workers. Short’s vision of the convergence of AV and IT was confirmed at InfoComm in 2014, an AV industry tradeshow, which was sponsored for the first time by traditionally non-AVcompanies such as Microsoft and Google. Initially, this convergence focused on tools such as Microsoft Lync (now Skype for Business) as a catalyst for enhanced communication and collaboration with AV, but it also drove upgrades to aging network infrastructure that needed to quickly support HD video.

Short’s vision of CSi went well beyond the unification of AV and Unified Communication technology as he realized that collaboration started as soon as more than one person needed to meet. CSi’s customers also demonstrated the need for collaboration workspaces to be redesigned to support the way people worked across a variety of digital experiences; from mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, to projectors and large interactive displays. Short’s holistic vision of collaboration extended into the tools and content that were the focal points of meetings.

“Collaboration begins when two or more people need to work together in any way, and we need to think about supporting all of the modern scenarios and tools required to do this and to make that collaboration as productive and creative as possible,” states Short.

This new vision of collaboration sparked the combination with two of CSi’s partners; Iluminari Tech and Imaginet. Iluminari Tech was an award winning Unified Communication and Collaboration team that focused on Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business, network optimization, legacy telephony/video conferencing integration and Microsoft Office365 adoption. Imaginet was an 18-year veteran in consulting and software engineering across the entire Microsoft platform including Visual Studio, SharePoint, Business Intelligence, and Azure.

“Our vision was completely aligned. While CSi helped bring to life collaborative spaces through new devices and AV, Iluminari Tech brought the glue that helped connect those spaces together. Imaginet helps achieve the last mile of collaboration by focusing on the apps and content that people collaborate around,” states Joel Semeniuk, co-founder of Imaginet and now the Chief Innovation Officer of CSi.

“With the upcoming releases of Microsoft’s enhanced cloud offerings with telephony capabilities, organizations are looking for all aspects of the solution. From the AV hardware to communications platform including applications and now with Imaginet the ability to develop custom solutions. Each organization has award winning best practices for implementation that lead to successful implementations and inspiring customer experiences.” states Angela Hlavka, Iluminari Tech CEO and now the Chief Strategy Officer of CSi.

More than What, it is How

Perhaps as important as what CSi offers its customers is how it delivers solutions. CSi is committed to maintaining high degrees of learning, certification and accreditation. CSi is proud to offer complete and comprehensive customer service that helps to ensure success for customers and users of CSi’s solutions from the moment of engagement. User Experience (Ux) is an important competency of CSi that takes into account all experiences in the collaborative continuum, from space design to software design. One of CSi’s most impressive capabilities revolves around how quickly it innovates with customers to bring new collaborative products to market as it has done with its quickly growing product portfolio that includes Shared Media Player™, Quicklaunch™ and Virbeya™.

CSi's mission is to deliver inspiring collaboration experiences that empower individuals and unlock the power of the team and organizations.

Quicklaunch™ was one of CSi’s first products built to facilitate and streamline the digital meeting experience. QuicklaunchTM was built to ensure an easy one-touch meeting starts user experience that unites disparate backend collaboration technologies making them invisible to the user. QuicklaunchTM facilitates starting a meeting, collaborating around applications and content in a meeting, and closing meetings by completely resetting the meeting space and deleting any residual meeting files with strong security standards. QuicklaunchTM also allows large organizations to control the settings of all of their collaboration rooms from a single location ensuring room standardization is always met.

Virbeya™ is another perfect example of how quickly and effectively CSi brings new innovation to market. Built to enhance highly collaborative teams, Virbeya™ is a visual management tool that increases a team’s productivity by displaying actionable intelligence about a team project at a single glance, keeping teams continually informed and acting on issues. Virbeya (or Virtual ‘Obeya’ –Japanese for Big Room) was initially built to support team collaboration in a large automobile manufacturing organization; however, it has grown outside of manufacturing into other industries who gain immediate value from visual management practices.

“Our industry is in desperate need of an ‘overhaul’ on how it goes about technology procurement and delivery. Our space could dramatically benefit from providers using and practicing what they sold. Today’s CIO is faced with providing a competitive advantage through collaboration and productivity, internally and with their customers, requiring multiple technology disciplines to all work harmoniously together. The CIO’s job is made exponentially more difficult by being forced to deal with multiple vendors and relationships. Solving these problems, CSi acts as the complete design/build provider for most or all areas of an organization’s collaboration needs, providing a chain of showrooms which is available for clients to experience how their space could work before making a purchase. “We are frequently asked ‘Where have you been, we’ve been looking for a partner just like you!’,” states Short.

Feeding off of Short’s energy and enthusiasm, the entire company embraces the “next generation collaboration provider” experiences. The technology used by CSi customers is changing at a rapid pace, and the only way the organization can stay ahead of the industry is by constant experimentation. CSi continually jumps in with both feet with new innovative technologies and products, as demonstrated by being one of the first resellers of the Microsoft Surface Hub set to ship in 2016. “Innovation is driven by experimentation and discovery, not planning” states Short. A fact reflected in its R&D practices currently experimenting with new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology. This continual investment into a dramatically changing technology landscape is the cornerstone for CSi’s future and the future collaboration opportunities for its customers.

Collaboration Experiences to Unlock the Power of Teamwork

CSi’s mission is to deliver inspiring collaboration experiences that empower individuals and unlock the power of the team and organizations. The company helps solve the entire spectrum of collaboration needs. CSi looks into how people work in different settings and makes sure its solutions facilitate transitions between stages of work and settings. For instance, CSi enables the user working on a presentation in the office to immediately switch into a group collaboration model to review and edit the presentation on the Microsoft Surface Hub. “CSi and our products are synonymous with innovative collaboration and unleashed productivity,” concludes Short.

Collaboration Solutions

Los Angeles, CA

Joel Semeniuk, Chief Innovation Officer and Jeremy Short, CEO, Angela Hlavka, Chief Strategy Officer

CSi provides a complete spectrum of collaboration solutions; from audiovisual services and conferencing solutions, to Microsoft Skype for Business and Microsoft Office365 platform adoption, to custom collaboration software solutions and products.