Executive Briefing: Boardroom Tech That Takes Care of Biz

Executive Briefing: Boardroom Tech That Takes Care of Biz

As executives embrace the concept of getting work done during meetings (rather than afterwards), boardrooms are transitioning from being presentation environments to collaborative spaces where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas, manipulate documents, and finalize content. At a technological level, this dictates the need for intuitive displays, as well as systems that deliver good quality sound—especially since today’s meetings usually involve not only those who are physically present in the space, but also audio and video callers who are working off site. Here are several examples of recent executive boardroom and briefing center projects that illustrate how these spaces are transforming into venues where everyone gets their say.

Hear No Evil
The Orlando, Fla., office of national AV design and integration firm CCS Presentation Systems (headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz.) recently integrated an Audio-Technica ATUC-50 Digital Discussion System into the University of Central Florida (UCF), also located in Orlando. The system is used for meetings of the institution’s Board of Trustees, and was designed to support a sort of boardroom environment on-the-go, since these quarterly events take place in a number of different locations on campus. To achieve this, the university’s AV team has housed the technology in a road case, which expedites set-up and tear-down.

At UCF, the ATUC-50 Digital Discussion System is comprised of an ATUC-50CU Control Unit, along with 34 ATUC-50DU Discussion Units. For this specific application, the university opted for the Audio-Technica Engineered Sound ES915H21 12-inch Hypercardioid Condenser Gooseneck Microphone. “All together this system is a very straightforward, elegant solution that meets and exceeds the client’s expectations,” said Fred Grob, sales engineer at CCS. “I would spec this exact system again without any hesitation.”

For the team on site, the system’s user-friendliness helps to make everyone’s job easier. “Using it for the first time, it was easy to set up, tear down, and operate,” said David Stoneburner, multimedia event manager at UCF’s Office of Instructional Resources. “The system offers great quality and simple operation.”


Old Meets New
Last year, the French AV design and integration firm Abaques Audiovisuel completed a boardroom for the Conseil National de l’Ordre de Pharmaciens (CNOP), France’s professional association representing the country’s pharmacists. Used for meetings covering highly confidential matters, the room required a multimedia conferencing system featuring microphones, electronic voting capabilities, and paperless document management. The challenge: integrating all of this technology into a Paris-based site that’s registered as a historic building. Media Vision, an audio equipment provider headquartered in Oakland, Calif., called upon its French office to work with the architect, integrator, table manufacturer, and the end user to develop a solution that would fulfill modern-day meeting requirements while respecting the aesthetics of the space.

The end result is based on a TAIDEN HCS-8338 multimedia conference system, featuring 44 TAIDEN HCS-8348 Multimedia Conference Terminals with 10-inch touchscreens, line array microphones, cameras, electronic voting functionality, document management, and VOD. The system also includes an HCS-8316HDMI Encoder, an HCS-8300KMX Congress Gigabit Network Switcher, as well as HCS-8200 Series Software Modules for the management of the mics, electronic voting, audio recording, video, and documents. Media Vision says that this was France’s first TAIDEN installation.

Meetings on-the-Round
Sprint recently overhauled its executive briefing center (EBC) in an effort to update its technology and give both employees and visitors a slicker meeting environment. The company worked with Prysm Inc., a cloud-based digital workspace solutions developer headquartered in San Jose, Calif., and SKC Communications, an audiovisual design and integration business based in Kansas City, Mo.

One of the main issues with Sprint’s existing EBC was that it was built on-the-round, like a theater. To the executives involved in the renovation project, this meant that visitors would feel like they were attending a lecture, rather than participating in a group discussion. The company wanted to change this dynamic and create a space that promoted engagement and collaboration. For example, in the retrofitted space, executives now use a control console to run meetings so that they could easily maintain eye contact with visitors.

A 50-foot curved video wall serves as the centerpiece of the newly redone 2,300 square foot rotunda. The wall is made up of 120 Prysm Laser Phosphor Display (LPD) tiles and minimal bezels, and both Sprint employees and visitors use these interactive displays to share and develop content. The technology eliminates the need for users to access a desktop, since they may conduct all of their content sharing via touch.

Prysm argues that solutions like these address the transformation that is taking place in executive briefing centers, whereby meeting participants aren’t simply listeners, but collaborators as well. In Sprint’s case, the curved, interactive video wall enables room occupants to make use of every aspect of the space, making real discussion and exchange possible.


Transformative Audio
Improved audio quality was the main goal behind a recent project at Civista Bank’s main meeting room at its headquarters in Sandusky, Ohio. The space, which can be separated into two rooms when necessary, is used for board meetings, teleconferencing, and loan reviews. Prior to the upgrade, the space’s users noted that the audio quality was poor, especially during conferencing.

Civista called upon ProVideo Systems, an AV design and integration company based in Perrysburg, Ohio, to oversee the integration of new audio capture technology. The team had already installed Shure microphone systems into the space; this time around, engineers specified three Shure Microflex Advance MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphones based on their reliability and flexibility.

Flexibility was crucial in this application in fact, largely because the physical space can be divided into two meeting rooms. Two Shure MXA910s serve the larger of the two spaces, while one MXA910 unit suffices for the smaller space. ProVideo engineers configured the systems so that when both rooms are in use, meeting participants are not bothered by audio spillage between the two spaces. Additionally, the AV team at ProVideo had a noisy HVAC system to contend with, and the Shure technology’s steerable lobes and EQ preferences assisted them in setting up a system that produces clear audio quality so that meeting participants can hear, and converse with, each other properly.


Smarter Meetings
When a leading financial firm decided to move their annual client meetings to their office building, they knew they needed to upgrade their AV.

“This company requires a cutting edge AV system that matches the quality of their services,” said Advanced vice president Mark McPherson. His AV integration firm was tapped by a leading financial firm—which will remain anonymous in this editorial coverage—to envision, design, and install a massive AV system upgrade. This project would outfit the company’s executive boardroom, auditorium, conference room, classroom, and four meeting rooms with next-gen AV. “We delivered a stunning, yet easy-to-use presentation system that each employee can truly rely on,” McPherson said.

For the firm, consistency across all of the building’s systems was key. That’s why the integration team installed SMART interactive displays and the Crestron AirMedia Presentation Gateway into the executive boardroom, conference room, and four meeting rooms.

“While we aim to impress our clients, we also want to ensure that the new technology is relatively simple for our employees to master,” said a company representative. “We want to be able to walk into our conference room, turn the SMART board on, and confidently deliver stunning presentations to our clients. Their funds are important to them, and this shows that they’re important to us as well.”

Equipment used included a Crestron AirMedia Presentation Gateway, Draper Access screens (165” and 222” models), NEC 65" LED display for large-scale presentations, SMART interactive displays, and a Sony 7000-Lumen Laser Light Source Projector.


ICYMI (In Case You Missed It)
Rust-Oleum HQ invests in wireless microphones for new meeting space

Stroll down the isle of any Home Depot and it’s a safe bet you will see at least a dozen products bearing the Rust-Oleum name. The global company’s paint and coating product line spans the professional, industrial, automotive, and residential markets. Last edition we brought you into the Rust-Oleam headquarters. In case you missed it, here’s a snapshot of an exciting application of AV technology.

As the company grows, Rust-Oleum had to convert former conference rooms at its Vernon Hills, Ill., headquarters into offices. That left their headquarters lacking in dedicated meeting space. When a nearby restaurant went up for sale, the company bought and renovated it as its new meeting center, once again illustrating how to leverage opportunities to solve problems. The 8,000-square-foot building was reinvented into five new meeting spaces: three rooms seat eight to 20 people; one seats 40 people; and a large room that accommodates 100 people.

“Our culture is about making it easier for employees to work. That means giving them access to facilities that encourage people to meet and get products to market quicker,” said David Heald, manager of client services and systems engineer at Rust-Oleum.

Working with AV system designer and integrator Sensory Technologies, the Rust-Oleum team took a closer look at some of the wireless microphone options available. They said that Revolabs’ Executive Elite stood out from the pack.

“Revolabs’ microphones were small, portable, and we could lay them out in any configuration we wanted,” said Heald. “For users, we saw how easy it was for them to mute and unmute their individual microphones as opposed to muting the whole system. That’s just another feature we didn’t initially think about, but when we saw it, we knew it would be something that could redefine the experience for those on the far end. We also saw how reliable it was, and with the evolving nature of these rooms, it was critical that no matter how the room was arranged, we could still count on the microphone to deliver clear, natural audio. It also gave us the flexibility to add on more microphones to the system in the future.”

“Using it for the first time, it was easy to set up, tear down, and operate,” said David Stoneburner, multimedia event manager at UCF’s Office of Instructional Resources. “The system offers great quality and simple operation.”

Carolyn Heinze has covered everything from AV/IT and business to cowboys and cowgirls ... and the horses they love. She was the Paris contributing editor for the pan-European site Running in Heels, providing news and views on fashion, culture, and the arts for her column, “France in Your Pants.” She has also contributed critiques of foreign cinema and French politics for the politico-literary site, The New Vulgate.