GPA Summit 2018: The way forward

The GPA’s 2018 Global Summit was held in Singapore as it gathered its membership, and a broader community of manufacturers, enterprise customers, and modern workplace stakeholders to discuss how a user experience centred approach can help the technology industry take a significant step into the future.

There is no denying the fact that the AV industry is in a state of flux due to a host of internal and external stimuli. More and more, AV signals are migrating to IP networks leading us towards a future where AV and IT converge. At the same time, increasing levels of digital fluency and higher expectations from technology are changing how devices and systems in the enterprise world are evaluated.

Lying at the intersection of customer, technology partners, integrators and members, the Global Presence Alliance (GPA) aims to not only help the AV industry navigate the changing waters of the technology world but also be in a position to prosper. To facilitate this aim, the GPA organises quarterly summits where members, end users and cross-industry professionals can gather and exchange ideas and views. The last GPA Summit of 2018 was held in Singapore.

Spread across three days, the overarching theme of the GPA Summit was user experience. Byron Tarry, executive director of the GPA, talked about the unparalleled focus being placed on innovation and collaboration by enterprises. According to statistics from Mercer 93% of corporations report that they will be making an organisational change and 4% of corporations define their organisation as agile.

Tarry said: “This spells huge opportunity for our industry if we can refocus our value proposition from technologists to productivity and collaborative engagement enablers. Customers are desperate to enable change and agility within their workforce, no more so than at the global enterprise level where the stakes for maintaining global competitive advantage are so high. If we as an industry, and as the GPA community, can provide solutions that enable organisations to achieve this change, become the consultants to align these technologies the needs of that workforce, and to drive adoption and collaborative outcomes, we become infinitely more valuable and strategic to these organisations. This is the real opportunity in this rapidly changing and maturing market, the evolutionary challenge we should all be embracing, and the collaborative focus we’ll explore for the next few days.”

Delving further into the scale of the opportunity for growth, Tarry stated that according to data from Logitech there are 40 million meeting rooms globally but only 2.5% of these rooms are equipped with video. Damningly, it would take 164 years at the current rate of deployment for all these rooms to be ready for videoconferencing. The need for videoconferencing is present, especially as millennials begin to make up the majority of the workforce. However, a change in approach may be required to convert the demand to adoption.

Jonathan Cartwright, managing director Asia Pacific for Downstream, a user experience design consultancy, talked about putting the user at the centre of the design process. Rather than just focussing on the technical and tangible aspects, he suggested that we need to also start considering what is emotionally desirable in addition to what in commercially viable and technically possible. As an example, Cartwright presented a case study where Downstream was engaged to help a major accounting firm transform their space.

Rather than undertaking the project to just upgrade its technology systems, the client wanted to shift its culture to attract and retain new talent, provide employees with an environment that empowers them and maintain its status as a part of the big four accounting firms.

Cartwright detailed how Downstream undertook a detailed look at how the client was using its systems, how technology was supporting different user groups and where improvements could be made. The design process centred around defining and understanding the user’s needs. From this base, Downstream went on to build a user experience which employed a mobile application, interactive screens, proximity sensors and more to deliver a seamless experience to all users.

Adding on to Cartwright’s message, Akira Mochimaru, general manager for Bose Professional, expanded the loudspeaker manufacturer’s approach to user experience. Using the S1 Pro PA system as an example, Mochimaru detailed how approximately 30 prototypes of the product were put in the hands of musicians to gather essential feedback from actual users.

However, the unique design of the S1 Pro allowing for the speaker to be used in multiple orientations was something that Bose Professional developed on its own.

Mochimaru’s message was for attendees to balance user feedback and their own drive for innovation. Drawing on the words of Bose’s founder, Amar G. Bose, Mochimaru talked about how making something better requires doing something different, and doing something different is not possible by remaining focussed on the past. He placed the burden to enact change on the audience to have the courage to explore new avenues.

Rather than just absorb the knowledge and experience of presenters with regards to user experience, the GPA Summit in Singapore also aimed to have the audience walk away with actionable takeaways that they could apply to their businesses. To foster processing and application of information, a breakout session was organised. As part of this session, attendees applied the learnings from the Summit within the framework of the ‘balanced scorecard’ approach.

Attendees contemplated and discussed how a user experience centred approach could be adopted to improve internal processes, finances, learning strategies and customer satisfaction.

The GPA Summit will return in February 2019 with a focus on a different aspect.

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