If 2020 has taught us anything about the world, it’s that innovation and technology are an absolute necessity if businesses hope to stay competitive, keep their workforces productive, and pursue their goals when disaster strikes. Video conferencing control, conference room standardization, and remote work usage models are essential ingredients in this "new normal."
With the rise of "smart home" and "smart office" over the past ten years or so, many forget that Crestron Electronics was a technological trailblazer in the sector long before Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant appeared on the scene. For nearly 50 years, the New Jersey-based company’s cutting-edge technology has been shaping the world of office and home automation. It’s not an understatement to say that Crestron has been focusing on the smart office and smart home many years before it became fashionable.
Recently, I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with two senior Crestron executives leading the company’s charge in the smart office and residential automation areas—Ranjan Singh, Crestron’s Executive VP of Product and Technology and John Clancy, VP of Crestron’s Residential Business. These conversations gave me valuable insight into Crestron's strategy for the smart office and home, and where the company predicts those markets are headed. Today, I’ll dive into my conversation with Singh, while I save my conversation with his counterpart for another blog.
Preparing for a hybrid workplace future
Singh began our discussion with an acknowledgement of the vital role these unprecedented times have played in shaping Crestron’s current vision of the market. While many companies like to claim they have some sort of "crystal ball” guiding their efforts, Singh’s explanation was all pragmatism and practicality. Crestron’s vision, according to Singh, comes from countless hours spent talking to its customers over the past seven months, trying to understand how they think about their workplace and the challenges they face within it.
While Covid-19 has certainly supercharged the remote working phenomenon, Crestron’s customers tend to believe that the traditional workplace is far from dead. Singh believes that in a post-COVID world, many companies will adopt a hybrid approach where some workers return to the physical office, while others continue to work remotely. In short, companies must be prepared for both futures.
To position itself for this new hybrid workplace future, Crestron’s hardware and cloud services focus on both remote operations and room monitoring. Back in October, the company announced the Crestron 70 Series Touch Screens, a new line of on-wall and tabletop cloud-connected touch screens designed for workplace automation and mobile device. The Crestron 70 Series supports an expansive collection of applications with its customizable interfaces. Workplace automation, historically, has been notoriously challenging to implement due to ease-of-use problems. Crestron’s touchscreen interface offers an intuitive way to control numerous building systems, including AV, unified communications, building and lighting automation, across training rooms, boardrooms, classrooms, sports stadiums and much more.
The Crestron equipped the 70 Series Touch Screens with a motion-sensing proximity sensor that wakes up the high-resolution display when someone enters the conference room. Additional features include the ability to embed corporate branding into the interface and support various live streaming formats (IP cameras, streaming encoders or a switcher).
Singh believes solutions like this will make the return to the office comfortable and instinctual. For example, employees and guests can use the touch screen's integrated Bluetooth beacon and the new Crestron ONE app to govern control room technology reliably and securely, via their smartphone or tablet devices. The Crestron mobile app allows users to control everything from lighting, shading and presentation displays. It's office automation technology on steroids.
Crestron is proud of the fact that companies can leverage all of its previous technology and infrastructure investments to support new products. This factor strongly influences the way Crestron invests, develops and goes to market with its product solutions portfolio. When asked how Crestron is positioning itself for the future, Singh would only say that the company is focused on ensuring continuity. Its customers demand that products purchased 20 years ago continue to work with modern solutions bought today. Something is reassuring about Crestron’s long-term commitment to this continuity, and I suspect it's one of the core reasons why the company has remained relevant for nearly five decades and counting.
You can listen to my podcast with Singh via Apple iTunes or YouTube. Crestron has also written a white paper with an expanded view of the workplace in 2020 that is worth reading. In my next blog about Crestron, I will share some of the insights I derived from my discussion with Singh's executive counterpart on the residential home side, John Clancy. Stay tuned—if you're pondering a "smart home" makeover over the holidays, you may learn a few ways to save time, unnecessary expense and frustration.