Video conferencing is back to life at Nutreco Skretting
Cisco & Pexip-based solutions bring simplicity and functionality
Global leader Nutreco consists of two Business Units: Trouw Nutrition, the global animal nutrition brand, and aquaculture brand Skretting, which is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway, where the company was established in 1899.
In 2009, Nutreco invested a considerable amount in video conferencing infrastructure, from the market leader at that time. It went well for years. Until technological developments exploded and a growing number of meetings failed. For the company, which works across 37 countries, it was absolutely clear that a top-notch video connection between meeting rooms in different locations had to be realized – fast.
“I was given the responsibility for finding a solution,” says Thijn Moons, Domain Manager Network Services Nutreco. “When we began looking closely at the issue, we discovered that more and more people had started working with other solutions, such as Skype. Because our platform was completely self-contained and depreciated it was being used less and less for meetings. Often, people wouldn’t have the time or inclination to learn new procedures – they just want to start a meeting with no hassle, using just one interface. The learning curve was steep, making international rollout very hard.”
Thijn wanted to facilitate meetings properly, introducing dedicated meeting spaces, devices, and ways of working and it took just a few hours with Duppal, whom he had been in touch with previously, to decide what the solution would be. A proof of concept was organized, including secure implementation that allowed Skretting to get started quickly.
Ease of use, easy sell
We discussed an approach that wouldn’t require more from participants than simply entering a room and pressing a button. After some conversation, we set up a test involving the Pexip video platform and a Cisco room kit – a soundbar with a built-in camera and control panel with a touchscreen, plus a main screen. We held our first meeting with this setup between Nutreco’s Head Office in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, and the Head Office of one of our Business Units in Norway. Everyone was immensely enthusiastic about the quality and the ease of use of setting up a meeting and sharing content. I dialed in for the first meeting and saw everyone was very enthusiastic. The board members’ PAs can easily set up meetings. Once the solution is up and running, it really takes care of itself. Ease of use is considerable, which has really stimulated its adoption. Implementation around the world has been much simpler than with the previous solution because there is just one key function, which is covered very well. You hook up and configure the system and it just works.”
Convincing Skretting to implement this solution for all board meetings was an easy sell. The Norwegian BU HQ saw that this was a great way of enabling people to hold discussions without having to bring them from all over the world to Stavanger. We purchased some 20 units around the world that communicate with each other over the Pexip platform. An advantage of this solution is the fact that you have the possibility to introduce other protocols. You can schedule a Pexip meeting, but if one participant wants to dial in using Skype for Business, or a phone, that’s possible. We work with various Universities that each have their own video conferencing platforms – Pexip has proven to be one of the best options for bridging these platforms.”
“Image quality is significantly better than standard options – which was key for us. Especially when multiple rooms are involved: if one party is using a budget webcam, other participants can’t properly see that entire room. Cisco and the Pexip platform also offer Voice Tracking, so the camera zooms in on whoever is speaking – very useful when there are lots of people on a call. English is not all participants’ native language and non-verbal cues are important to the context of the conversation. It’s important that everyone can see these clearly. HD streaming video makes this possible.”
“For communication between our meeting rooms, I think this solution will become increasingly important. It’s based on offering one type of functionality really well. That’s preferable than trying to combine everything in one device – we tried to combine far too many functions in one platform at first a few years ago: interactive whiteboard functionality, solutions for video, Skype, large presentation screens… For many of us, the learning curve was too steep. The Pexip plus Cisco combination, however, couldn’t be easier. For example, you pick someone from your address book and make the call. That’s all you need to do! Our finance director doesn’t ever want to go without this platform again. He wants to hold all his meetings via this channel. Skype and Teams are definitely on the way out…”
Skretting uses the platform intensively, with setups in practically all of the countries where they operate, including Ecuador, Chile, Australia, Norway, Spain… In Business Review meetings, during which all controllers get together, for example, or a recent eight-hour IT strategy meeting. Skretting’s R&D departments In Norway, Chile and Australia also meet once a month and share content. The tool is also increasingly used for online job interviews – new staff are hired without having an in-person interview. Regardless of the tools applicants prefer to use, they log on to a webpage and the interview can be conducted.
Very pleasant cooperation
“Duppal took care of user training and support and really looked after all the details. The service level is excellent, you can always call and they’re ready to help. We know that we’ll get a useful reply to any question we might have. You can also test specific functionalities and decide whether you want to keep using them. That hasn’t been my experience with other companies, who immediately start billing when you have a question. I just want to exchange ideas with people who understand what we’re doing and understand where our challenges are. Duppal did a great job and they go the extra mile. For example, I had a question about the integration of Pexip and Teams. They got back to us right away with all the information we needed, including details on implementation and cost. Another example: we couldn’t provision four Cisco units in Australia onto the Pexip platform. Duppal’s service department worked out that the software needed to be downgraded – even though they hadn’t delivered these units. They just feel responsible and have a commitment to bringing projects to a good end. That makes the cooperation very pleasant indeed.”
Thijn remains in regular contact to discuss further improvement and additional functionalities. “Duppal embraces our suggestions for improvement and acts on them. Going forward, I think the Pexip platform will include more and more sophisticated functions, which will be hardware-independent. As a result of this solution, Nutreco has put video conferencing back on the agenda and we now see it as a genuinely useful communications tool. Not just for audio – the enhanced resolution and reliability really adds value for certain types of meetings. And in these times where we can’t easily visit each other, it’s really important to be able to make these connections and speak face to face.”