I Was Just Thinking…

Bart Eat Your Carrots: “A Tale of Two Remotes” or “Vendors Pay Attention to Your Users”

A couple of weeks ago I attended the  Mid Sized Enterprise Summit and had the opportunity to dialogue with Simon Dudley of Lifesize.  Simon is certainly a knowledgable video guy and very engaging speaker.  We had a great discussion about video conferencing as that was a major part of my professional career for 15 years.   One example for me was when I had the privilege of demonstrating video gear, as shown in the image below, for Steve Largent when he was running for governor in Oklahoma (NOTE: Football Fans please notice the Denver Bronco poster behind the Hall of Fame Seattle Seahawks receiver)
One topic that Simon discussed at MES 2013 was the usability of Lifesize gear and the importance of keeping the remote simple for the end user of the technology.  In the Lifesize world one simple but important feature is the remote.  A remote with both simplicity and function…..and oh yes just one button.     Below are images of the old Lifesize remote, the new Lifesize remote and for perspective the old Tandberg remote (NOTE:  for those not familiar with this industry Tandberg was purchased a few years ago by Cisco and Cisco being the 800 pound Corporate Gorilla…are doing to their video line what they did to the Flip Video Camera…and yes the Flip Video forced retirement is a sore spot with me)  

One of his sayings about the Lifesize remote jogged an experience I had with a Tandberg remote back in ‘the day’  ‘The day’ in this issue is 2005 and the issue is still as important to the end user as it was back then.  
Let’s first review Simon’s saying about a remote control for the videoconferencing equipment below:

How true this is, but overall the real issue is about user experience and on January 21, 2005, I got an email from my dear friend, current Drummond Oklahoma Superintendent and video conferencing practitioner extraordinaire, Mike Woods.  I have changed some of the names in the email below to protect the guilty, but pretty much the rest of this classic response to the corporate neglect of end user needs is intact.
Mike and I had been complaining loudly and collaboratively about how a change in the Tandberg remote was not an improvement but rather a setback.   We both were in the heat of the battle and no one at Tandberg wanted to listen to us even though we were the ones on the front line, delivering classes.   Mike who is always good for a thought provoking line or two fired off the following email about the Tandberg remote:
Dear Account Person 1, Account Person 2 and Account Person 3,
I want to follow up with my concern about the new Tandberg remote with the MXP system.  It is everything I said before and worse.  I want my old system back with the user-friendly easily understood remote.  I don’t care about the MXP update if the thing is too cryptic to use.
A case study.  Northwest Tech in Fairview and Alva Oklahoma, at my urging, purchased two Tandberg 770 units.  Fairview received the new remote and Alva received the old remote.  Alva’s system came in after the Fairview system.  I was trying to troubleshoot an audio problem with JOHN DOE, a certified network engineer and no stranger to technology, as I described the steps which are many and laborious to reach the level settings for the audio inputs JOHN was getting confused as I described the “new” remote buttons he needed to push and then what to look for on the screen.  I asked Steve which remote he liked best and he said “the new one.  It is so much easier to use.”  I began wondering how much humble pie I was going to eat.  As we soon discovered the “new remote” we were discussing was in fact, the old remote.  Since the new remote came first JOHN  assumed the last to arrive and much improved old remote was the new one.  JOHN had no idea which remote was which since they had previously only purchased Polycom but went with Tandberg because of EASE OF USE.  Get it.
As the philosopher Homer once said, ” Bart, eat your carrots!”  The moral of the story is that while some things are distasteful and hard to swallow for overall health of the body and need for growth we, or in this case you at Tandberg, must swallow hard and give me back the old remote.  The change was bad and you should act now to fix it.
Now, I do not like only to gripe and not provide constructive solutions. If you truly have an unenlightened group that prefer the pathetic new remote let them have it.  Create an educational and enterprise solution with choice to have it your way.  Here is the tag line.  Tandberg’s e series solutions, education & enterprise for your environment.  Old remote
for education, new remote for everyone else.  I would really like to receive some response or threats as soon as possible.
I had forgotten my reply all response, but I think it  was appropriate to as shown in the image below:

The bottom line in all of this is that we need to always make sure teachers can teach without interference from the technology. In the corporate setting we need to connect users and not have the technology be a stumbling block to good communication.   I have not been working in this area for a couple years but creating a great environment for communication  is not any different now than it was then.   Kudos to Lifesize and Simon for fewer buttons!.   


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