You might think of the shift to collaboration-centric office layouts, chock full of huddle rooms, as de rigueur. But for forward-thinking companies like Prysm, that’s all already in the rearview mirror. From the software side of things, physical spaces like offices are all but inconsequential.
I caught up with Paige O’Neill, Prysm’s chief marketing officer, to discuss the company’s background, as well as where they’re pushing the collaboration category going forward.
“The thing that we’re seeing and that I think goes beyond into 2017, is something that we’re starting to talk about as a ‘borderless meeting room,’ ” O’Neill said. “There’s this notion that you’re going to have team members who are in their offices by themselves, or in their home office, they’re remote, they’re in big conference rooms—and they all want to be able to share and work together and collaborate on content, and have the same experience, or very similar experience, no matter if they’re in front of a big screen or in front of their remote device.”
The solution that aims to deliver this universal experience is Visual Workplace, a cloud-based platform for collaboration. After starting out as a manufacturer of energy-efficient laser phosphor displays a decade ago, it acquired the software company Anacore in 2014, and integrated it into the meeting room solution that’s Visual Workplace. And although it offers any-device, anywhere flexibility, it’s still the big-screen experience that sets it apart.
At the company’s founding, “Rojer Hajjar and Amit Jain, the company’s co-founders, had worked together previously and had a shared vision around facilitating more engagement in the office place, and they were passionate about helping evolve display technology,” O’Neill said. The solution they developed, the laser phosphor display, enabled the creation of solutions that are scalable to tremendous proportions—one of the standard sizes is 190 inches—giving the company a unique proposition in the rapidly expanding flat-panel display marketplace.
“The vision was to make workplaces more exciting and engaging by bringing this display technology to into the enterprise,” O’Neill continued. “And as the time has gone by, the market has evolved a great deal, and what started out as a mission around displays and the technology naturally evolved to integrating the collaboration capability.”
According to O’Neill, the large-screen nature of Visual Workplace enhances the ability of participants to engage creatively with content, as a wide variety of documents, images, charts, and videoconferences can be displayed simultaneously, side by side. This characteristic, combined with intuitive operation, not only creates a platform that streamlines meetings and presentations, but fundamentally changes the way users conceptualize group work.
“It’s just a completely different way to think about visually looking at and engaging with your content and other people’s content, and being able to get to a productive output that much more quickly,” O’Neill said. “It’s highly visual: the screens are all touch-enabled, everyone’s able to see it and engage with it at a much more effective pace, and it just really changes the equation and makes it much less linear and more dynamic than your typical way of conducting content sharing or meetings.
“I find that it’s changed the way I approach even thinking about work. I used to think about presenting in a meeting or getting content ready for a meeting, I would think about it in kind of a linear fashion, and now, I find that my brain is really actually visualizing what our content layout looks like in Prysm.”
As a tightly integrated hardware and software solution, Visual Workplace has met with considerable success, with a host of Fortune 500 companies. And naturally, with such success from Prysm and others, big players like Microsoft with its Surface Hub, and Google, with its recently announced Jamboard, are coming in for a slice of the collaboration pie. Still, O’Neill sees these moves as a positive for Prysm.
“Understanding of the technology is accelerating very rapidly and I think that when you’ve got Microsoft and Google getting into the space, it really validates the market,” she said. “I’ve seen this throughout my career in other markets, where you typically need to have one, or a few big companies coming in, and these companies are probably going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars educating the market on what these solutions are.”
In terms of the competition these tech leviathans might bring, O’Neill explained that while the Microsoft Hub might a good solution for few meeting rooms or huddle spaces, Visual Workplace is intended more as an enterprise-wide system—and one that’s not tied to any particular suite of software.
“We’re setting ourselves up to be a platform or operating system, where any kind of content or application will run on our system, and we’ll be able to do deep integration with enterprise workflows, enterprise technologies, be third-party agnostic, and just have a whole breadth and depth of hardware and software options for the enterprise,” she said. “So we’re setting ourselves up to be a really rich, robust system, whether you’re on Android, whether you’re on Microsoft, whatever the case may be.”