Umbra Group conceives global strategy for hybrid meetings as employees return to the office

Saginaw, Michigan, US - 2021

In 2018, Italian-based UMBRAGROUP acquired Thompson Aerospace & Defense, A Saginaw, Michigan-based company that designs, manufactures, and services critical actuation components and equipment for various defense and aerospace platforms. Then the process began of not only merging these two company and cultures together, but their IT systems as well. This job fell into the very capable hands of the company’s new U.S. Director of IT, Joe Sheridan. With more than 33 years’ experience, he’s developed a stellar reputation for being able to quickly and efficiently “turn around IT.” True to form, he cleaned up the network and got it humming, then turned to the next challenge that was the conferencing system.
  • Ideal to connect hybrid teams all over the globe
  • Agnostic solution for easy wireless conferencing and content sharing

The need for video conferencing usability and reliability

With a company located in Michigan, a sister-office in Washington state, and a headquarters in Italy, the need for a secure, reliable, and easy-to-use video conferencing system is paramount. When Sheridan arrived on the scene, the only system available proved to be a challenge for staff to use. This was, in part, because it could only run one type of conferencing software, but mostly because it didn’t work correctly the majority of the time. It took 8 to 10 steps just to get it to work, and people complained about it all the time. This led to a strikingly low number of video conferences on site, which was unacceptable… especially with UMBRA’s global community.

Why can’t this be easier?

Before Sheridan and his team began the search for a new conferencing system, they discussed what they were looking for. First and foremost, they wanted a system that was easy to use. One that allowed anybody to walk into a conference room and simply turn it on and connect. Next, they wanted an agnostic system so people could use whichever conference software they preferred and were used to.

Sheridan recalls, “I remember thinking, ‘There has to be SOMETHING out there like that.’ And it turned out that a colleague learned about the ClickShare Conference system that had exactly what we were looking for.” We had also been using the ClickShare CSE-200 for content sharing, so we were familiar with the product.

The answer: ClickShare Conference

Barco ClickShare Conference is a wireless conferencing solution that easily shares the apps from your laptop on the meeting room display. It’s up and running in any meeting room within seconds. And because ClickShare Conference is vendor agnostic, and built to support Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM), you can simply walk into any conference room with your laptop to wirelessly connect to every aspect of your meeting room – cameras, microphones, speakers – regardless of manufacturer, make and model. This allows you to integrate pre-existing meeting room solutions as well as effortlessly add new tech. Seamlessly mix and match between Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom and many more. And this is done securely, with no vendor lock-in.

Easy decision

“Once we saw what ClickShare had to offer, everything was easy from there,” said Sheridan. “We were provided a free model to set up, test, and show proof of concept. Everything worked just exactly as we hoped it would. And better yet, the entire system cost about 1/3 of the initial system that nobody liked or used.”

Once the decision was made to move forward with the ClickShare, Sheridan paired up Logitech Meetup Systems with two CX-50 for the large conference rooms, one CX-30 for a mid-size conference rooms, and they provided the team with over ten CSE-200 for use in their offices, small size huddle rooms and the all staff breakroom. Once they set up one room, they could easily replicate each system based on the room it is in.

“From my standpoint, communication is our most important tool for success,” said Sheridan. “And I can say for a fact that ClickShare helped improve communication and collaboration across all divisions. It has made things go smoother, faster, and more effective.”

The perfect solution for a hybrid office

Sheridan reports that everything is working flawlessly and has received not one complaint. This was, of course, fortuitous timing to have everything up and running by the time of the pandemic. As a vendor for the Department of Defense, the company was considered essential, and they remained open throughout. About 50% of office staff worked from home and they had daily meetings across their US and Italian offices. Thankfully, the ClickShare ease of use was seamless.

“I can see the Executive Conference Room right outside of my office,” Sheridan notes. “And I see everyone connecting easily using Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, whatever. We also have them in certain executive offices, and when I walk around the building, I see ClickShare being used all the time. It’s just worked out really great for us!

“This company is a very innovative company. We’re always looking at new technology and new ways to improve the manufacturing process and helping our customers,” he concluded. I think when our Italian colleagues come over to see what we’ve done, they’ll want to replicate it themselves, because it’s more cost-effective, easier to use, and it just works.”  

Once we saw what ClickShare Conference had to offer, everything was easy from there

Joe Sheridan

US Director of IT, Umbra Group US

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