Engineers are at the forefront of innovation. Whether they are designing a new technology, urban infrastructure or electrical appliance, engineers must collaborate effectively to convert innovative ideas into a solution ready for the masses.
Many ideas developed over time through collaboration and the use of small resources to become the brands we know, like and trust.
Polycom, a global leader in HD video, voice and content collaboration technology is an example of a firm that made a small investment and through collaboration became a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Co-founders Jeff Rodman and Brian Hinman made a 95 cent investment on a RadioShack book entitled, Building Speaker Enclosures, to learn about acoustic suspension, and then collaborated to develop a sealed speaker enclosure. This became a breakthrough in the product’s performance, which helped propel the company to become a communication technology enterprises rely on today for their collaboration needs.
“Like the team that joined us one by one (even a team is built from small things), Brian and I devoted every free moment we had to bringing this first small thing to life. In the early days, our lives revolved around sketches, phone calls, soldering irons and software tools.” – Jeff Rodman
Innovation and Collaboration Today
Engineers within large enterprises do not often sit in the same room, nor or are they within walking distance on the same campus – they are now spread across the globe. Also, the once small investments, such as the 95 cent RadioShack book, has become seemingly endless free content on the Internet. The best innovation strategy for companies today is to create opportunities for engineers to collaborate on new ideas and streamline designs, regardless of location.
So how can enterprises consistently innovate when teams are spread across the globe? The key is to have a solid innovation strategy and use the proper communication tools to collaborate effectively.
In terms of strategy, cloud and virtualization software and services provider, VMware, has several unique and powerful ways it encourages its engineers to “push the envelope” to create great new products. The R&D Innovation Offsite (RADIO) is an annual internal conference in which VMware’s global engineering teams have the opportunity to present new ideas, new developments, and breakthroughs.
Hundreds of engineers attend each year, give feedback and learn from each other at the conference. Take 3 is another internal program in which employees take a dedicated period of three months to work on something different, join a different group, or even relocate to another VMware office to facilitate research.
By giving engineers the freedom to propose new projects and work with diverse groups, VMware remains competitive and at the cutting edge of software innovation. However, travel and relocation may not be feasible for some engineers who wish to attend and take part in these internal programs. And as competition intensifies, engineers can be extremely time-pressed to design new ideas efficiently.
Video conferencing and content sharing solutions serve as a valuable collaboration platform for when engineers cannot relocate or travel to meet in person. Engineers within enterprises across the globe can leverage video conferencing to share critical insights, solve design challenges, and speed up the time it takes to market a new product.
Buro Happold Engineering, a professional services firm providing engineering consultancy services for all aspects of buildings, infrastructure, and the environment is an example of a company in which video is used within work sites across the globe.
From New York to Dubai, the company needed something that was more integrated to enable people to work not just in rooms, but also at their desk or a mobile location. Not only did the company reduce significant travel costs with the use of video, but they also gained an extra 3,000 hours of productivity, which helps the firm transition from development to production at a much faster rate.
While engineering leaders may never know what will trigger the next ground-breaking idea, the way in which they collaborate to drive innovation today has changed. For teams spread across the globe, video conferencing can help engineers collaborate effectively face-to-face in real-time to help expedite and bring to market innovations that change the way we live and do business.