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Crestron’s Vision for Collaboration Technology in 2021

Andrew Gross & Wei Oania Collaboration technology

Andrew Gross & Wei Oania Collaboration technology

How can remote and on-site colleagues stay connected as teams? What will offices look like going forward? How do organizations need to rethink their physical and tech infrastructure?

These are just a few of the questions we explore in this podcast featuring Andrew Gross, VP for Enterprise Unified Communications at Crestron, along with Wei Oania, General Manager of Education and Collaboration for the Intel IoT Group. As a leader in collaboration technology, Crestron has been helping its customers rethink collaboration during the pandemic—and the company has learned a lot from this difficult year.

Join us as we share insight on topics including:

  • How to accommodate new work habits like hot-desking
  • Why all team members need a first-class experience regardless of location
  • What a successful collaboration strategy looks like, with real-world examples
  • How to build a conference room for the realities of Zoom and Teams in 2021
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Transcript

Andrew Gross: People are certainly no longer novices in the world of Teams and Zoom. And so if your room system does not support that type of meeting technology, then you’re not giving your workers a purpose to return, right?

Kenton Williston: That was Andrew Gross, VP for Enterprise Unified Communications at Crestron. And I’m Kenton Williston, the Editor-in-Chief of insight.tech. Every episode on the IoT Chat I talk to industry experts about the technology and business trends that matter for developers, systems integrators, and end users. Today I’m joined not only by Andrew, but also by Wei Oania, General Manager of Education and Collaboration for the Intel IoT Group.

I’ll be talking to Andrew and Wei about the future of the workplace. Some of the questions we’ll address include: What will offices look like going forward? How can remote and on-site colleagues stay connected as teams? And how do organizations need to rethink their physical and tech infrastructure? But first, let me introduce our guests. So, Andrew, welcome to the show. Can you tell me about your role at Crestron?

Andrew Gross: I’d love to. So, I am our VP of Enterprise Sales. What that really means is I lead all of our sales and technical decision makers around the globe in really being evangelists and advisors in what we call the Future of Work. We’re not really focused on going out there and trying to sell boxes to customers; we’re really trying to be advisors in what the future workplace looks like, how technology can help them get there. And, of course, what Crestron can do to make their entire enterprise modernized. Crestron as a company—what I like to say that we do is we make enterprises, meeting rooms, offices, smarter and more connected. We are a hardware manufacturer at heart, and we are the global leader in audiovisual technology. But, really, probably the most recent focus has been on becoming one of the world leaders in Teams and in Zoom rooms, which is finally making its way to everybody’s home office and their office-office—which is what Crestron has really put a big, big focus on over the last 15 months.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, absolutely. And of course I—I think like most of the world—have had lots of practice now working from a home office. We’re talking about what we’re going to be doing when we get back as a whole team back into the office. I’m really interested in getting a chance to try some of these new technologies for myself here in the near future. So, Wei, how about you? What is your role at Intel?

Wei Oania: I work for Internet of Things here at Intel. Our team globally are focusing on accelerating technologies, the inter-schools and inter-enterprise offices. Our goal is really to improve and positively impact the way we learn and the way we work. Very similar to Andrew, but our group within IoT, Internet of Things, at Intel—we put our focuses more on the enterprise side, where we have our client team focused a lot on personal computing. We want to make sure that we set up a similar technology and similar usage in schools and campuses, as well as in enterprise offices.

Kenton Williston: Wonderful. And on that point—of where the workplace is going and how everything is changing so fast—I want to start with a conversation. I’m sure you’ve probably seen this cartoon where everybody’s sitting inside of an office building, and they’re talking around the conference table. And somebody says, “When are we going to start our transformation effort?” And here comes this giant wrecking ball that says “COVID-19”—just comes smashing in. And then this last year just sort of forced an acceleration of that conversation. And I think it’s been very real, but of course what exactly digital transformation is, is certainly a topic up for debate. So, Andrew, I’d love to hear what you think it means, and how that’s going to affect the nature of the workplace in 2021 and beyond.

Andrew Gross: Well, that cartoon is dead-on, because COVID really was the catalyst to, I think, what we’ve all been calling digital transformation. Even if that word may sound new to a couple of folks that are listening, I think there’s a couple of terms that kind of make up the digital transformation ideal—things like IoT, AI, ML (for machine learning). All of these terms I think people like to throw out—some of them may or may not even know what they mean—but those are the types of terms that have made up what we call now digital transformation. And the difference today is that we’re actually doing it. And I think that’s the really exciting part—we’re not just talking about it, we’re actually doing that. And I think a great example of what it means to actually do digital transformation, or adopt or embrace digital transformation, is the enablement of offices and homes and really all of the workers—our own colleagues—to be connected and integrated all the time.

And the way that is different with digital transformation is that prior to that actually being done, technology as a whole lived very adjacent to our daily lives. I think a great example of that is in the office space just probably two years ago—if you wanted to meet with a colleague who was halfway around the world, or in a different office in even your own state, you had to go to a conference room, maybe dial them on your phone—you had the technology to do it. Or you brought your laptop and dialed them on your laptop, and then connected it into the room to bring them in virtually. The technology was there, but it was adjacent to your daily activities. Today—which is actually doing digital transformation, the digital transformation of the entire office—is that the technology is now integrated into our lives, or integrated into the spaces, right?

Take that exact same example where, today, instead of having to bring the technology with me adjacent to myself to make the meeting work, the technology is there. The meeting room itself, as an example, lives in the cloud, and the technology connects to the virtual meeting room. And everybody has somewhat of a democratized meeting experience—whether you’re in the office or remote. And so that is really the big difference between talking about digital transformation, of what the future looks like, and now actually doing it—with the technology being integrated into what we do and meet with every single day.

Kenton Williston: That totally makes sense. It has become such a natural, integral part—again, certainly speaking to my own experience of what I do day in and day out. And I think, like you said, that’s just happening everywhere. It’s not just—Oh, this is a thing we need to do in certain circumstances. But it’s just part of everyday, regular workflows. And, Wei, what I would love to hear from you—we heard a little bit from Andrew about how important the cloud is in enabling this transformation, which I certainly agree with. And I’d like to hear from you, as an IoT expert, where IoT technology fits into this new workplace. Are there any key trends you’re seeing in that regard?

Wei Oania: Yes, this is a really interesting topic. I think we mentioned a little bit—COVID does speed up digital transformation. But if we are thinking about it, the way we live, the way we shop—IoT type of technology has already impacted our lives and is making it better. Our expectations as consumers have increased a tremendous amount in terms of what we want out of the retailers, in terms of what we want in terms of providing very easy and frictionless living. So, from a working perspective, that should be the same. COVID just speeds up that transformation. We already know that the current workforce, or even future workforce, is going to be even more mobile, collaborative, and geographically dispersed. With the right tool, with the right technology, we can enable that collaboration outcome much better. It’s thinking about inclusion and belonging, to making every participant worker feel like they can contribute equally, and bring an equal place for them to share opinions and not feel left out.

And these types of things we often don’t think technology is there to do, but yet technology can. So those are the things that we really want to focus on here at Intel. But we also like to work with companies like Crestron, who are really thinking all around in terms of how the technology—such as advanced ones like AI and machine learning—can impact that experience as well. But from a digital-transformation point of view, we as technologists really want to put the outcome in mind when we do start innovating for these types of things. We need to make sure that the experiences, that the outcome we bring to these workers are giving them a sense of that inclusion, that belonging, that making that work seamlessly for them regardless of where they are—whether they are at home doing personal computing, or going to an office with collaborative rooms, or any kind of thing. Making a resilient system that enables us all, so that we can do what we do every day.

Kenton Williston: Absolutely. And so I want to dig a little bit deeper into that point you made about the collaborative room. So, I was asking you a little bit of a leading question there, because when I think about IoT—of course there’s the connectivity element of that, but it’s all the little bits and pieces of device technology, right? And, like Andrew was saying earlier—kind of like up until now it was a separate thing that you would do to collaborate remotely. And even when you would go into a conference room, oftentimes it would be a bunch of totally disconnected systems. Maybe the lights would be just totally old-school, manual things, maybe you’d have to go roll down some shades; there’d be the display that was really hard to connect to. And then you’d have to figure out how to conference everybody in—just all these different systems that were kind of dumb, frankly, and often not connected to anything other than just the power outlet. And I’m foreseeing a future in which these things are much smarter and much more connected. Does that fit with your vision of the future as well?

Wei Oania: Yes, it does. I think, looking at IoT transformation for the past few decades, we’ve seen this kind of wave coming for all different types of verticals. So, for conference rooms or collaborative rooms or hubs rooms—this transformation will need to happen as well with isolated technology, islands of information—how do we connect them together and make them more easy and flexible and simple to use? So we often like to think of them in various different stages. Looking at a conference room today, they’re just regular conference meeting rooms—they have devices, they may have tools for you to book the conference room, and they may have some tools for you to share—whether it’s your audio or whether it’s the information materials that you would like to discuss. But, looking forward, that will become a collaborative meeting room, with focuses on video collaboration with remote annotation and sharing.

We have to care a little bit about enterprise security and management—how do we make this type of information, as well as all the connected dots together? Then the next step—we’re looking at smart meeting rooms—how do we insert in the audio and video enhancement? How do we utilize analytics and data insight? Can we do some transcription automatically? All of this on top of the security and management we’re looking at. And, lastly, what we really want to achieve is getting all these stages together. Immersive meeting rooms will appear that would ultimately offer that frictionless meeting experience for us, with AI assistant and context awareness that will allow us to not worry about meeting notes and have integrations of various different meeting apps without any concerns about those things.

So, certainly, IoT is playing a vital role in all of this. But I also want to say that it’s not overwhelming that we have to do all of them—the technology are smart enough and modular enough, now we can do a step-by-step approach to ensure that various different things can be connected at the time that you would like to, and also making sure they are affordable and accessible in the time frame that you want to have.

Kenton Williston: And, again, not to lean too hard on my own personal experiences, but I just reflect back, boy, only like a year or two ago—as a journalist I’ve got to do a lot of interviews with people. And the point you made about note taking—there was a lot of busy scrambling to get everything written down. And these days everything is just recorded to the cloud by default, automatically transcribed by default. And, man, has it made my job so much easier. Andrew, I’d like to get you a chance to weigh in here. I’m betting you’re going to agree with the vision Wei put forward. And I’m interested in hearing a couple of things from you. So, first off if you’ve got anything to add just about the general perspective of how collaboration is going to look like going forward. And then I’m also really curious to know what kind of best practices you think enterprises should be putting in place. And if you’ve got any examples of people who you think are already doing things the right way.

Andrew Gross: Well, I think Wei made a great example and used a key word that I know Crestron has always been focused on—and that is “automation.” And it’s kind of what you mentioned as well, Kenton—what is able to be done for me automatically? How is my life enhanced and maybe made easier by the technology around me, right? From a Crestron point of view, obviously our partnership with Intel is really what’s enabled us to even do this—their chips make our products smarter. So, what we do now is we take those intelligent devices and we of course bring them into the workplace for collaboration, for video distribution, for audio connectivity. And there are a lot of examples of companies that are doing this today. I mean, certainly I can say Crestron and Intel are two of them. But, beyond that, I think a great example actually is Microsoft, and their enablement of hybrid work is incredible.

What they’ve done, and really what I think a lot of large enterprises are starting to follow—I know Crestron is one of them too, even just eating our own dog food with the technology that we make—is providing a first-class experience, whether you are in the office or you’re at home. And that may sound strange, and I’m sure people are thinking, well—what does that really mean? Because if I’m at home, how do I really get a conference room–type experience? What it’s really about is, now the majority of meetings are going to have some level of virtual component. When you have that level of virtuality added to your everyday meetings, the level of virtuality, and how people are displayed in that virtual meeting room—it needs to be consistent.

And we actually saw two phases of this—which I found very interesting, and it actually does speak pretty loudly to what large enterprises must be thinking about when deploying intelligent technology to make all of this work. The first wave that we saw—which was right at the beginning of the pandemic, and really leading up to just even a couple months ago—was that those that were in the office or returning to the office were seen as first-class meeting participants. They had the better technology—they were heard and seen better. And those at home were seen almost as second-class participants, where maybe they were using their own laptop, audio or video—they weren’t really seen as being connected to the meeting.

Well, that started to change near the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, as we became work-at-home experts, or hybrid-work experts. And what happened was that a lot of technology made its way into the home to enable a better meeting experience, either at home or in the office. What we’ve seen now, just as of today, is in fact the at-home worker is starting to be seen more and more as the first-class participant, and the in-office worker is seen as the second-class participant. And there is a key reason why. And that’s because of the frame of the person that’s actually meeting. Think about it—when you’re on a Zoom meeting or a Teams meeting, you’re able to see the body language of the person that’s at home with the single camera. But if you’re in the office with a group of people, you’re simply one of many.

And so that small change is something that needs to then move back to balance. And the only way to bring back to balance of remaining first-class participants—whether you’re in the office or at home—is about that level of automation, that level of video and audio technology making its way to not just be good enough, but truly be enterprise grade—regardless of where you’re taking the meeting. So I know that’s a long-winded answer, I think, to what you were maybe getting at there, Kenton. But it speaks a lot to the proliferation of, and really the need for, a higher level of technology from an audiovisual standpoint, and a collaboration standpoint, that is making its way into the enterprise and the home, and is starting to level the playing field so that efficiency remains high, regardless of where you’re meeting. And that’s what the greatest enterprises that have deployed this today are really doing a great job of—ensuring that their employees are engaged, regardless of where they’re meeting with their colleagues.

Kenton Williston: Again, to revisit a point that we keep coming back to over and over—these platforms like Zoom, like Teams, used to be sort of a secondary mode of communication that we would use for specific purposes. And now it’s where teams are actually spending their time—all the time. It’s sort of the default for how you’re going to meet with people. And, I think, falling on right behind that, all these sorts of platforms are really evolving to become more of the basis of unified communications platforms, right? It’s not just a web-conference platform, but it’s really a holistic communications platform. So, I would love to hear what you think makes for a successful deployment of a unified communications platform.

Andrew Gross: So, I’d say that you need to break down the deployment of unified communications into two main aspects: it’s the software deployment, and it’s the hardware deployment. And both of them share a lot of aspects that I’ll get into in a second. But first break it down into those two mindsets. What is my software standard? What am I rolling out as my majority share for my enterprise, to meet and collaborate over? That can be chat, file share, video content, audio meetings. And let’s just say for all intents and purposes, that goes to Microsoft Teams. Okay, Microsoft Teams is now my standardized platform from a software standpoint. Then I make the hardware decision, and the hardware decision gets into probably a larger decision-making process.

Speaking from Crestron, and our partnership with Intel, what really is a differentiator—or truly a difference maker when looking at our two offerings, right? The intelligence from Intel built into what Crestron gives to the meeting space—is a level of automation, a level of intelligence, a level of awareness, and a level of management. And I think those four key things: automation, intelligence, awareness, and management—when you’re looking at the hardware platform to support the software standard that you’ve deployed, is so vastly important to drive success in all of the meetings that you’re looking to have, whether they’re in-person or remote.

Taking a greater look at those four—the first one being automation—is, how do I now take that software deployment with my hardware system in my meeting spaces and automate it, right? Reduce touch. How do I make it simpler for my teams and my colleagues to join meetings? Intelligence: how are we making my rooms smarter? An example: one of the great pieces of technology that we’ve integrated with Intel is the ability for our cameras to actually count people in this space. How are my spaces smarter to ensure that I have the right amount of people in the space at any time? Awareness is an example of giving data and information to employees across the office of: which spaces are booked, which spaces are available. Even, of course, now it is—which may be most important—is which spaces are clean for me to use?

And the last one being management. I think we’ve all agreed that more technology is certainly a big part of the answer here, to enable workers in this hybrid working format. But more technology must mean more management. This technology is only valuable if it’s actually working. If something goes down or needs an update—we can’t have those systems unusable for a longer period of time, because it completely defeats the purpose of the investments that we’ve made in the technology to actually make our employees more efficient. So, managing those devices, ensuring they’re working, is key. And that’s really the overarching theme, I’d say, to those successful deployments.

Kenton Williston: Got it. So, Wei, I want to turn to you for a moment, right? We’ve talked about a huge scope of changes, and, as Andrew was saying, there’s a lot of technology behind all of these changes—and you brought up some of the things yourself, like AI and machine learning and computer vision. So, thinking holistically, what do you see as some of the key infrastructure considerations that enterprises should be making? And what is Intel doing specifically to support these emerging use cases?

Wei Oania: For sure. If we’re looking at it, this is really interesting. I think it really comes down to what we’ve been reinforcing—what we’re really talking about here is providing a seamless experience, regardless of where your workplace is, and providing the technology that can bring that to a foresight. So, from a deployment point of view, from an enterprise-setup point of view is, what would you like to offer to your employees at the current moment? What does that setup need to be? And how is your future possibility of integrations of other ingredients going to come? And how do you structure that? So, from that type of thing you have to start considering what the future would be. Even though it’s not today—we might not able to have these automatic experiences, these frictionless, immersive experiences. But you have to deploy enough infrastructure to enable that possibly coming in the future.

So, from Intel, we start to work with our co-travelers to see—once we set up these things, what are some of the compute needs that you would have on the cloud side? What are the compute needs you would have on the Edge? And how much workload would it take to run AI? to run 5G? to run different types of emerging use cases that are coming along? And how do you set that up in a way that is flexible to adjust? So those are the types of things that we’re starting to discuss. And the companies like Crestron can bring in all the use cases and the end-user demand that pinpoints to that understanding for us to understand what the architecture should look like, so we can do this right the first time. And allowing companies to have that flexibility at any time that they would like to insert the needs of additional compute, additional hardware, but offering that framework that could sustain those changes.

So those are the things that we are continuously thinking about and keeping in mind when we advise our co-travelers or end users how to think around that. But, no doubt, we have to start considering the amount of compute that these new use cases would require. Just some examples we’re looking at globally. By the way, the pandemic does impact countries differently, and we do see a phased approach of how they’ll come back to work based on your geographic location as well. So right now a lot of Asian countries—we’re already back to work. So you see a huge deployment of these video-conferencing capabilities already in. Even though we’re in offices, we are conferencing with multiple different other geos, colleagues, or partners to do these types of things. We’ve already seen the high compute needs that are coming in. For example, we often have translation needs between Asian countries with other different language countries—how do we do that?

So we’ve run multiple different workloads with our partners to see how much they would consume—the amount of compute with your local, or with your Edge needs. And how do we make sure those kinds of things can automatically, and quickly react to whatever, so that you could provide that seamless meeting experience? So, from that aspect, we are learning as we go. As we collect more information on the actual use, we can do more to improve what technology needs, and we can plan for the future next phase for different types of things. But always with one thing in mind—making sure the technology can be easily adjusted and very adaptable to changes.

Kenton Williston: That’s a great point to, I think, really emphasize that out of everything you said, that the key word that was really coming to mind for me was “flexibility.” We’re in a time of great transition, and exactly what the workplace of the future is going to look like, who knows? But for sure, you’re going to want to have very flexible infrastructure to support all the new ways that people work. And something that occurs to me out of that is it’s not just a flexibility in your IT and compute and cloud infrastructure, but also flexibility in the actual physical workspace. So, Andrew, I’m really curious to see what you’re seeing from your customers—what they’re doing to have workplaces that are more flexible to accommodate different mixes of people coming in, maybe a few days of the week. And, for that matter, what sort of technologies people are looking at to make sure that those workplaces are safe and comfortable, and people feel like, this is a space I can go back into and I’m going to stay healthy.

Andrew Gross: Sure. There’s a couple of trends actually. The first thing is that—Wei mentioned this actually in the beginning of this conversation—and it was about the expectations that users have with technology, and really just their awareness level of how to use that technology. We’re seeing this right now with large enterprises, where we have this return to the office, and there’s this flood of workers that actually are going back to the office. As much as we keep hearing about people working at home forever, there is a flood of workers returning to the office as well. And that flood of workers has a totally different level of expectations, but also a different level of knowledge in terms of how to use technology and what to expect from their workplace. So the first one is about being able to offer flexibility, and what I like to call openness, or bring-your-own-device.

People are certainly no longer novices in the world of Teams and Zoom. And so if your room system does not support that type of meeting technology, then you’re not giving your workers a purpose to return, right? It’s about driving that purpose: why am I coming back to the office? And if I come back to the office, the technology better be there to support the efficiency that I had at home. Because they are a different level of knowledge workers, and they have a different level of expectations for the intelligence and the technology that’s going to enable their day-to-day work. So equipping the conference rooms with the right technology for the collaboration platforms that they’re familiar with and have enabled them, is key.

The other one is certainly about the sense of security—sense of health and safety. And technology, of course, plays a massive role in that. A really great example of what a lot of big technology companies—and really just any enterprises—are doing with Crestron and Intel technology is leveraging digital signage on the outside of the conference rooms. Typically digital signage was used for advertising, or even just company updates. But now digital signage is becoming ubiquitous across every single meeting room, and it’s displaying a lot more than just a room calendar. So, a room calendar is key, right? To be able to see when the meeting space is being used. Who’s using it? When is it next available?

But these meeting-room calendars are now actually showcasing cleaning schedules; they’re showcasing room-capacity limits. I mean, these are things that we never thought of before, but are built in to these Crestron panels that live on the outside of the spaces. And all of the intelligence from those smart Intel chips built into the Crestron technology inside the room, is communicating back to those panels on the outside. So either, A: I’m not walking into a room that hasn’t been cleaned because it’s been used by a group prior. Or, ideally so I’m not walking into a room that has already reached that room’s capacity—because of the sensors and intelligence that’s built into the technology inside the room.

So all of those things, right? Enabling and equipping your rooms with technology and collaboration that remote workers have worked so well with over the last 15 or 18 months to get their jobs done—needs to be deployed and be expected to be used by this flood of workers back to the office. And driving purpose for them, to give them a reason to come back to the office. But ensuring that that return is safe by informing them of what’s happening in the rooms that you’ve deployed the technology in.

Kenton Williston: Even beyond that is the overall architecture of the workspace. Maybe not everybody is going to have fixed desks—maybe there’s going to be some flexibility there, where you can come in as needed and kind of just camp out wherever there’s some open spots. So, having this kind of fundamental technology is like being able to tell: is this particular part of the office too crowded? What’s the airflow looking like? All these sorts of things I think are going to be pretty important to making people feel safe and comfortable.

And then, of course, having the kind of infrastructure we’ve been talking about—that really robust, unified communications infrastructure, so that when people do sit down and go to their whatever temporary spot they might happen to be in—whether it’s a conference room or break room or some random desk that they’re at—that they’ve really got the full capabilities available to them. So, we are getting pretty close to the end. I’m interested to know if you’ve got any key takeaways you’d like to share with our audience as they’re thinking about how to set up their workplaces for the next little bit.

Wei Oania: For sure. I think one thing we have to acknowledge is the future workforce will be different. And we have to start embracing that flexibility of supporting the mobile work—the flexibility of supporting various different types of working environments. And to ensure not only are we competitive employers, but also to adjust to just what this generation of people is requiring. With that understanding we have to come up with what are some of the things that can help us achieve that. Still providing our employees the tools that they would require, and meeting the expectations of each of us as a person who uses these technologies.

So with those two bases, we have to use technology to augment any kind of realities, regardless if you are in-person or remote. And one key thing is, we as human beings, we do crave human interactions, no matter what. I spent the first four months in the US, where I did mostly working from home. As soon as I returned to China in April, it’s back directly to the office every day. But what we’ve seen already is these adjustments are happening—people are less concerned with where they are, but focusing on the task at hand. While we do need to come to work, we are working on collaborative things—brainstorming on the next big thing that we have to do.

We have the human connection of making a friend, making a comfort, making the trust that we have to continue for future work. But we also are having the ability to support remote work too, to ensure that. But the key things we keep talking about—it’s regarding where you are. That experience cannot be first-class, second-class—it has to be equal, has to be inclusive, has to provide those needs that all of us have regardless where we are. So with those things, it is time for all of us to consider: how should we drive those changes for our workplace?

So those are the things that, I think, as a technology company, we’re looking at, as an enterprise we are looking at. We can collaboratively continue to learn. Things will change, and things will always surprise us in a way, but if we are having some basis of things in mind, we can always be creative when challenges come along, and quickly retrofit whatever we have to meet the best requirement at that time.

Kenton Williston: Absolutely. So, Andrew, what I’d love to hear from you as kind of a final thought—just in real, practical terms, what you’re doing to take your solutions to the next level, and how you’re working with your customers to really deploy all these kinds of capabilities that Wei was just talking about.

Andrew Gross: So, the way that we’re doing it—really our focus is about starting now. And what I mean by that is, there’s a lot of our customers—a lot of the largest enterprises in the world—that have not returned to the office. In the example that Wei gave, as well, we say we haven’t seen that with the majority of the largest enterprises in the US just yet. But the difference is that you can’t wait for the return to the office—or when your employees come back to the office—to do everything we just talked about. It has to be started now—the strategy to be able to understand how to enable hybrid workers, in-office workers, at-home workers, to be able to strategize how to democratize the experience between those levels of workers; for the ability to enable hot desking and remote work, and really just ad hoc spaces. But giving them a purpose to use the office that you’ve invested potentially millions in over the last couple of years. It adds value, but it’s about not waiting.

And that’s what Crestron is doing now—we’re working with our partners like Intel, and speaking to customers as early as possible. It kind of goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning, of really what our focus is as a team, and what my focus is personally here at Crestron—is not to go out there and sell product. But it’s about being an advisor in the Future of Work, and advising customers as early as possible, developing a strategy around those platforms, and ensuring that it’s defined now, and deployed and installed and ready for that massive return back to the office.

Kenton Williston: Wonderful. Well with that, Andrew, I’d just like to say, thanks so much for joining us today.

Andrew Gross: Thank you very much for having me.

Kenton Williston: And, Wei, thank you as well. Really appreciate your time.

Wei Oania: I really enjoyed the session. Thank you for having me.

Kenton Williston: Absolutely. And, of course, thanks to our listeners for joining us. To keep up with the latest from Crestron you can follow them on Twitter @Crestron. And, of course, if you enjoyed listening, please do support us by subscribing and rating us on your favorite podcast app. This has been the IoT Chat. We’ll be back next time with more ideas for industry leaders at the forefront of IoT design.

About the Author

Kenton Williston is the Editor-in-Chief of insight.tech and served as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

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