Telepresence Case Study

A New Way to Collaborate at Cushman & Wakefield (Cont'd)

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield Facts

Business Needs

Enhance communication and collaboration among global employees

Networking Solution

AT&T Telepresence Solution® connecting offices in New York and London

Business Value

Supports effective face-to-face and multimedia communication while minimizing the cost, distraction and time consumed in travel

Industry Focus

Global real estate services

Size

16,000 employees work in 250 offices across 60 countries

Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) provides real estate services and support to multinational corporations in their ownership and occupation of commercial properties around the world. C&W services include property management, brokerage and appraisals. As a real estate advisor, C&W integrates fast-changing global market information and creates strategies that support its clients’ development in multiple economic landscapes.

Situation

Cushman & Wakefield’s business is collaborative, complex and information-intensive. Success depends upon C&W’s ability to come together to make decisions about constantly changing information. The company’s globally dispersed professionals meet through either face-to-face, voice, or video teleconferencing. Travel is costly and time-consuming, while existing conferencing capabilities left gaps in communication. C&W needed a new communication approach.

Solution

Cushman & Wakefield implemented the AT&T Telepresence Solution enabling employees to meet with colleagues thousands of miles away, as if they were in the same room. The solution is easy to use and C&W ensures all levels of its professionals have access to it. By integrating older conferencing technologies with telepresence, C&W extends the value of its existing investments. The solution is fully managed by AT&T, allowing C&W to concentrate on its core real estate services business.

A Business Built on Information

In 1917, J. Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wakefield started their property management company, Cushman & Wakefield, in New York City. For more than 90 years, the company has expanded its offerings and its reach to become the largest privately-held real estate services and advisory firm in the world.

Telepresence creates an almost life-like meeting experience where you have the opportunity to have people from all over the world join in as if they were in the same room."

Craig Cuyar, Global CIO, Cushman & Wakefield

C&W facilitates its clients’ ownership, use of and investment in commercial properties, providing a variety of services that include facilities management, site selection, development, brokerage and advising. C&W’s comprehensive services hinge upon staying informed on a global scale.

“We are an information business,” explained Craig Cuyar, CIO. C&W uses cutting-edge technology to track changing conditions in 85 world markets—collecting, exchanging and evaluating market data that includes demand indicators, sales and lease activity, local market values, global economic trends and more. In its advisory role, C&W utilizes its global perspective to create integrated strategies for its clients’ successful worldwide development. “We position our clients to take advantage of capital flows and trends that are occurring in the market,” Cuyar said.

C&W employs 16,000 professionals in offices throughout the world, a network of knowledge that helps it deliver dependable quality of service in any location and any economy. For its multinational clients, this is key. “Our clients want a consistent service offering in New York and San Francisco, Shanghai and Stockholm, and London and Jakarta,” said Cuyar. “We will provide you the same service anywhere in the world.”

Data for Decisions

Cushman & Wakefield operates across multiple time zones, constantly adjusting to its clients’ shifting needs within a global system of fluctuating, interdependent real estate markets. In this rapidly changing world, the recent economic downturn has left clients “much more demanding, focused on price and on level of service,” said Cuyar.

Meeting such client expectations requires immediate and continuous access to information. The company’s information technology network provides the infrastructure. Yet simply having information is not the end goal. Information is valuable only if it enables people to make better decisions. Employees need to get together to share and evaluate the data and weigh options in a timely manner. C&W’s collaborative processes grew up around the simple concept of person-to-person meetings. But add the challenges of distance and time, and the straightforward idea of direct human interaction becomes anything but simple.  

Travel to in-person meetings is costly and time-consuming, all the more so when carried out across C&W’s global footprint. Traditional conferencing offered only a partial solution. Trying to connect with audio-only and single-camera video conferencing could be frustrating. “It’s what I call ‘the days of yesteryear,’ where you’re sitting around with choppy video and people accepted the rigidity of the communication,” said Cuyar.

Benefits Begin with Clearer Communication

To increase the quality of its remote conferencing, Cushman & Wakefield implemented the AT&T Telepresence Solution, installing telepresence meeting rooms in its New York and London headquarters. The solution is a multimedia communication technology that combines high-definition video and audio and custom room design to create a meeting experience. Providing seamless transmission of real-time, actual-size images of participants across the virtual conference table, the telepresence technology offers a rich quality of communication that allows closer connections. “To be able to look somebody in the eye and have that conversation as if he or she was sitting in your office, to me that’s a remarkable thing—and that’s what telepresence brings,” said Cuyar.

 “It has definitely enhanced our ability to collaborate,” continued Cuyar. “Telepresence creates an almost life-like meeting experience where you have the opportunity to have people from all over the world join in as if they were in the same room.” Being able to read visual cues and pick up on what people aren’t verbalizing can be invaluable, especially when communicating across different language and cultural backgrounds.

The improved remote meeting quality enables C&W to replicate the conditions of in-person collaboration without traveling. Less travel means savings in cost and time. “From the corporate perspective, if you want to just talk about productivity gains and financials, we know we’ve saved a significant amount.” Cuyar said. 

Traveling Less, Meeting More

“We are traveling less but we are meeting more,” Cuyar explained. “We use telepresence heavily because it has made communicating so much easier.” Cushman & Wakefield increases the reach of the solution by making the telepresence conference rooms available to all levels of its professionals, not just senior management. “People have figured out how to use it in their regular work environment,” said Cuyar. C&W’s professionals sign up to use the rooms through Microsoft Outlook, as they would any other conference room.

Telepresence also helps create person-to-person bonds, as people who never met in person put faces to names. “An interesting phenomenon for us was the number of people who had worked here for years and never really met,” said Cuyar. Telepresence has helped people get to know each other and strengthened the company through more personalized relationships.

To include offices that don’t yet have telepresence capabilities, C&W integrates older conferencing technologies. Multiple offices can be patched into the new system. This flexibility expands the impact of telepresence and enables C&W to continue to gain value from earlier investments. In addition, “we connect people via audio who don’t have telepresence,” explained Cuyar.

“The opportunity to have AT&T provide a fully managed solution was exactly what the doctor ordered,” said Cuyar. “We know what our core competencies are and are not.” Dedicated staff from AT&T provides equipment installation, maintenance and on-call support. The robust MPLS network guarantees security of information. By outsourcing operations to AT&T, C&W streamlines its operations and maintains its real estate focus.

Sharing the Solution

The AT&T Telepresence Solution enables a new way to conduct global business, creating a relevant communication strategy that makes sense to people. “It’s one of those things that spread in a viral fashion,” Cuyar explained. “I can’t tell you how many people walk by, see it and say ‘Wow, that’s pretty neat, how do I use that?’ And before you know it they’re booking the room and they’re using it.”

The scalability of the solution will allow C&W to easily expand its telepresence capabilities to more locations in the future. “We will put some in our other regional headquarters and will end up with facilities in Canada, Asia, and on the West Coast,” said Cuyar. Multipoint meetings are a feature of the AT&T solution.

C&W also connects with clients who have their own telepresence capabilities for intercompany meetings via the AT&T Business Exchange. Through its own experience, C&W gains insight into how the technology would work for more of its client base.

As global property managers, C&W looks for new capabilities—like telepresence—that enhance its clients’ use of facilities. “We’re promoting it to our clients,” explained Cuyar. “The majority of people who see it are thoroughly impressed with the technology, the clarity and the ability to enhance communication and collaboration.”

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