11/2020, 5min read

Alma Media welcomes smoother video conferencing and  a one-stop partner.

"While video conferencing is nothing new to us as a concept, the implementation of Elisa Videra services has made it all go so much smoother. And usability in daily life is what we are always looking for to make users' lives better." says Juha Punnonen, CIO at Alma Media.

Alma Media is a dynamic, multi-channel media company and provider of digital services based in Finland. It has operations in multiple locations around the country as well as offices in the Czech Republic, Croatia and Sweden. The company has continuing demand for high-quality, reliable and easy-to-use video conferencing solutions, and it has invested in digital media and services since the mid-1990s. The concept of remote working is therefore nothing new to its personnel.

"We all have laptops and VPNs, and the vast majority of our services are cloud-based," says Juha Punnonen, CIO at Alma Media. "Anything we’re working on in the office can be taken home and continued there."

At Alma Media, video conferences have been actively held for a decade already, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in the spring 2020. Despite years of experience working remotely, live meetings in conference rooms have also played an important role in Alma Media’s business negotiations. Collaboration agreements are all about trust, and trust is about how people feel towards each other.

"Seeing facial expressions in discussions is important," Punnonen emphasises. “For the past six months, I haven’t physically entered a conference room. We have rooms equipped with state-of-the-art video conferencing technology, but it remains idle as everyone is working remotely.”

The pandemic has raised the question of how to establish trust with partners and potential customers if people can’t meet face to face, not even for the first time.

Video conferencing made “so much smoother”

When it comes to issues such as networks and telecommunications, Alma Media has a long relationship with Elisa. This means discussions about utilizing new opportunities take place frequently and conveniently. When the idea of improving Alma Media’s existing video conferencing system came up at the end of 2019, it was promptly followed by an agreement between Alma Media and Elisa Videra at the beginning of  2020.
"Video conferencing is gaining popularity, both within the company and among customers, so there is an evolving need to develop its availability and quality. Even with traditional meetings, the option to participate via video has become a standard element for us," Punnonen explains. 

As Alma Media had recently invested in the Pexip technology platform and Cisco equipment, the implementation of Elisa Videra’s services took place conveniently. Some of the existing configurations had to be altered, some new devices installed, but Juha Punnonen states that, all in all, the project was clear and the execution flawless. 

"While video conferencing is nothing new to us as a concept, the implementation of Elisa Videra services has made it all go so much smoother. And usability in daily life is what we are always looking for to make users' lives better."

Human-like connection and a solid platform to withstand sudden changes

The main benefit of top-quality video conferencing soon became evident: people could establish an easy, human-like connection. Even though video is an essential tool in learning and getting to know the opinions and feelings within the organization, its true added value is seen in situations when you deal with people you do not know. Body language is important, and so is the ability to talk to others face to face, and study expressions that give out so much more than just words.

In addition, there was increased reliability with continuity. That was largely thanks to the fact that the overall solution was set up on the Pexip platform instead of a single solution such as Teams. According to Juha Punnonen, a substantial investment such as this should not be chained into a certain service – or into a certain service provider.

"Services tend to change, so if you have one fixed technology platform that is in connection with a service such as Microsoft Teams, you might run into a problem," he explains. "An independent platform such as Pexip will remain compatible with services for a long time, no matter what might happen on the service development front."

One partner to take care of the big picture

All fields of technology, no matter how advanced, tested and proven they may be, are subject to unexpected breakages. These can lead to downtime as everyone has to wait for the support department to discover the problem and fix it the best possible way.

The same goes for video conferencing: at times, usually when you expect it the least, something just goes down. With several people in multiple locations waiting for things to get back to normal, these minutes or even hours can turn out to be expensive. Not only due to the accumulated salaries wasted on idle time but also, in some cases, a potential or even existing customer getting impatient and backing off from a lucrative deal.

When there are several potential sources, the risk accumulates.

"In video conferencing, the problem can be in a wide variety of places," Punnonen states. "It can be in the equipment, basic service, telecommunication connections or some other element. This makes troubleshooting even more challenging."

Alma Media has reduced this risk by turning to one supplier in all related ICT issues. Especially in today's business world, time is money, and experience has shown that a solid one-stop-shop approach helps save both. With Elisa in charge of such an important part of Alma Media's ICT infrastructure, getting better reliability, better quality and better support becomes a lot easier.

Surviving the pandemic with video collaboration

COVID-19 appeared a couple of months after Elisa Videra’s services had been implemented at Alma Media and it changed the way both personnel and customers work. With nimble solutions, the capacity portfolio was smoothly adapted to evolving needs, and Elisa Videra’s  discussions with Alma Media on how to develop the opportunities to meet current expectations are ongoing.

“The big question is how our customers will adapt to video conferencing,” Punnonen explains. “Increasing interest is evident, but it is not certain if that’s a temporary peak that will quiet down with the pandemic."

Every team has its own ways of working, so even when it comes to video conferencing, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Luckily, the chosen solution can be adjusted smoothly, and a one-stop-shop such as Elisa will provide timely support when it comes to solving problems and developing the overall solution to be the very best it can be.

As the development of digitalization continues and brings new and advanced solutions to the market, Alma Media can rely on staying at the forefront.

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