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Collaboration: paths to success

This article appears in the issue November/December 2017, [Volume 26, Issue 9]
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Because the building process is so well documented, BuildPro and SupplyPro allow for greater accountability. “Everything is tracked and transparent,” Ballard says, “so users of the system, whether builders or suppliers, know which contractors have completed their jobs on time and which suppliers have delivered as planned.”

In addition, the amount of data in the system offers extensive analytics. “Some organizations use their own analytic solutions and others, especially field personnel, use those in Hyphen,” says Velasquez. “We want our customers to be inquisitive and curious about the data—why does framing take longer in one community versus another? Is it because of labor issues, weather or other factors? Suppliers can look at which products sell best for a particular builder.

The system is still evolving as customers and Hyphen identify potentially useful features. “We offered a warranty tracking option and at first no one wanted it,” Vasquez recalls. “Then we began getting calls from CIOs saying they did. This software component leverages information from the purchase order, because our system knows who bought it, who installed it and when it took effect. We track communication about events that take place over the life of the warranty, and we can also measure satisfaction. This new option improves efficiency and ensures that suppliers and builders are both up-to-date on the status of the warranty.”

Hyphen Solutions’ platform is tailored to a particular vertical market and meets a clear need in the industry. Automating routine tasks frees workers to focus on the issues that need judgment or negotiation. Because collaboration is completely integrated with the work process, it is not a separate function or task and the problem of adoption does not arise.

An immersive collaboration experience

CohnReznick is an accounting tax and advisory firm with a digital consulting practice that helps organizations leverage emerging digital technologies. The firm wanted to demonstrate its competency in the technology area by collaborating with clients and prospects in new ways. The concept of an innovation lab emerged, through which CohnReznick could connect with other companies and solve both business and technology issues to demonstrate how technology can bring people and organizations together in a powerful way.

CohnReznick looked into a variety of collaborative tools and eventually chose Bluescape. Designed to provide a common visual collaborative experience through which information can be presented, shared and captured, Bluescape is accessible from an oversized video wall, desktop computers and mobile devices. It integrates with numerous applications, including word processing, business intelligence tools and 3-D modeling software. Documents, images, videos and voice recordings are all available in the Bluescape workspace. Text notes can be added, and users can write notes on top of any digital asset or image.

The content displayed on the wall can be seen on other devices, including desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices. Remote users also have the same options for interacting with the on-screen content and applications. Up to 100 users can work concurrently in a Bluescape workspace either from their own device or a large interactive display.

CohnReznick had explored numerous other collaboration solutions before selecting Bluescape. “None of the other products could integrate so many technical solutions in a seamless way,” says Dean Nelson, national partner for technology and digital consulting at CohnReznick.

The company uses Bluescape regularly for virtual meetings with new clients or prospects. Nelson says, “It’s a huge differentiator. We also bring people in the lab and show them, through Bluescape’s visual capabilities, the range of advisory solutions we can provide.”

Bluescape makes possible a collaborative discussion of complex accounting issues that are in the forefront of the minds of CFOs. “We do a lot of rapid idea generation using Bluescape, as well as redesigning business processes,”

Nelson explains. “Things that would have taken months to accomplish previously can now be done at a much more rapid rate.” In addition, CohnReznick uses it internally to communicate and hold meetings.

Persistent documentation

Bluescape has an unusual history in that it was developed by a manufacturer of office furniture, Haworth (haworth.com). After acquiring several companies, Haworth saw that many of its product designs overlapped so they started pasting photos up on the wall as part of a strategy to identify and eliminate duplication.

Around that time, one of Haworth’s designers saw a video display wall at a restaurant and came up with the idea of using digital imagery rather than printed photos to compare products. The display wall was made by Obscura Digital, which creates immersive video experiences used in advertising and media exhibits. The two companies partnered to create a visual collaboration product, later spun off from Haworth as Bluescape.

Everything can be captured in Blue-scape. For example, recurring meetings can be represented along a timeline that runs from left to right. “A record of the meetings and all the events that took place within them are stored in a common space,” says Nick Brown, VP of product and marketing at Bluescape. “Everyone can interact in a similar way, and the lead role can rotate among different participants.” Location markers can be placed to pinpoint specific events or assets—for example, to mark notes from a team meeting or a presentation that was used.

All too often, the results of collaborative efforts lie in a graveyard, according to Brown. “Many do not create a persistent documentation of a project,” he maintains. “With Bluescape, everything is still there when the next meeting starts, so users have continuity.” Among the other requirements for success are easy access, interactivity, sharing and integration with other applications. “If participants need to find a document they viewed at a previous meeting, they can do it,” he adds.

Bluescape provides an experience for users that allows them to connect to others and to information, and documents the experience for future reference. Its multidimensional nature provides the flexibility to adapt the interaction to the needs of a particular project or task and resolve issues in a timely way.

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