Professional services firm, PwC recently relocated to their iconic new head office at the centre of Waterfall City in Midrand. The multinational services company relied on a long-standing partner, Omega Digital, to deploy an AV solution that would set the standard for the company’s continent-wide AV deployment.
Sales and marketing director of Omega Digital, Michael Kellaway spoke with AV Integration in a recent interview about the award-winning project.
Professional services firm PwC has a huge presence in South Africa, with over 4,800 employees and 23 offices throughout the country. When relocating to a new, 26-floor headquarters, known as PwC Tower, in Waterfall City, it wanted a comprehensive smart workspace solution to deliver maximum productivity and support employees into the future.
Kellaway explains that Omega Digital, one of the leading collaboration experts in the country, has a long-standing relationship with PwC, having provided managed services for the group for more than seven years. “Due to the close working relationship that we have developed with PwC, we have a solid understanding of the organisational culture and the direction that the company wants to take,” Kellaway points out. To deliver on PwC’s objectives, Omega Digital proposed Crestron as the ideal partner for this vast project.
Omega Digital expertly integrated a suite of Crestron solutions to manage the audiovisual (AV), video conferencing (VC), room booking and digital signage throughout PwC’s impressive new building. This complex integration included 155 meeting rooms and a 17-room training facility, with connected technologies controlled through Crestron Digital Media 32x32 Matrix Switchers installed on each floor.
“The need to make the world smaller using video conferencing and collaboration platforms was integral to our firm’s vision of our new office, as well as the rest of Africa. This was where the combination of Omega and Crestron became extremely important,” states senior manager at PwC, Grant Kemp.
According to Kellaway, one of the major advantages for Omega Digital was that their dedicated on-site team were involved in the conceptualisation and design of the tower prior to the deployment of PwC’s new collaboration solution. “PwC relies on Omega for all of their onsite technical support, and our dedicated team have been involved in the design, installation, and programming of the AV and collaboration solutions for the PwC Tower, as well as the satellite offices in Cape Town and Durban, which makes for a seamless user experience.”
“PwC is a very forward-thinking organisation that wants to create an environment that will attract the very best talent. A cornerstone in achieving this lies in providing slick collaboration tools that enable seamless communication across the organisation while ensuring the best possible end-user experience.”Michael Kellaway,
A TURN-KEY SOLUTION
The 155 meeting rooms within PwC Tower comprise of a combination of small and medium-sized AV and VC rooms. Each room is powered by Crestron’s AirMedia to provide easy-to-use, fast and secure wireless connectivity. Participants can sit or stand anywhere in the meeting space and easily connect their laptop or smart device to the main display, providing seamless switching between presenters. Cabled connectivity is also available via Crestron FlipTops, mounted into the meeting room tables. Crestron FlipTops provide a highly configurable and well-organised connectivity solution with versatile combinations of pull-out cables, cable retractors, connector panels, and AC power outlets.
Switching between sources is seamless thanks to Crestron’s centralised DM Matrix switchers which work in synchronicity with Crestron’s HD-MD-400 to manage the instant scaling of files, documents, images, and videos to ensure the best possible quality display and high-definition presentations.
Multiple rooms are also equipped with Crestron Mercury, for easy collaboration and crystal-clear conference calling. It’s the only AV and VC all-in-one tabletop solution that supports any web collaboration application, including Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business, enabling people to work together regardless of location or preferred application.
To provide high quality audio throughout the office, Crestron’s in-ceiling amplifiers have been paired with Crestron’s Excite ceiling speakers, for exceptional sound across multiple rooms. This discreet solution is ideal for delivering great audio to the abundance of rooms at PwC.
All meeting rooms are managed centrally via Crestron Fusion, a monitoring and scheduling software that adds a layer of intelligence for seamless room management. Crestron Fusion allows employees to book rooms and verify room availability, giving complete visibility of room status at any time and preventing people from occupying rooms they haven’t booked. There is also a ‘check-in’ function allowing better analytics of meeting attendance and to allow rooms to be made available should participants not arrive for their meeting slot.
Outside each meeting room, a Crestron 7” TSS-752-B-S touchscreen connects to the Crestron Fusion platform, integrated into a third-party scheduling application allowing users to book rooms with ease. The touch screen is programmed with a standard Crestron interface that has been visually customised for PwC, making it easy for everyone to use – from the managing director to a visitor. Users can instantly check the status of the room or adjust the rooms settings, such as temperature and lighting.
Kellaway goes on to explain that PwC has various personnel that use the equipment on a daily basis, and every member of staff needs to be able to approach Crestron touchscreens and know how to use them. “Therefore, the standardisation of interfaces is extremely important to the success of the installation, and the adaptable and flexible nature of Crestron technology made the entire process far easier, and the complications much simpler to overcome,” he concludes.
According to Kellaway, the driving concept behind the design of the installation for PwC was creating a simple, easy-to-use experience for the end user. “We have designed everything with simplicity in mind. The end user gets to experience that simplicity, but in the background, there is a tremendous amount of programming and coding that goes into achieving this slick and seamless experience,” he explains.
Each intelligent room has been programmed to activate into a pre-set state when a meeting organiser checks into the room via the external touch panel. The room automatically switches on the lights, wakes up the monitors and activates the AV/VC. Once the meeting is over, the room shuts down by switching the lights off and turning the technologies to stand-by mode, saving energy and costs. Stand-by is activated based on two criteria; the first is a motion sensor that monitors the room for detected activity and the second is triggered by the calendar if the room is not booked for use within the next ten minutes.
Kellaway adds that one of the greatest advantages of the meeting room installation is that everything in the room, including the lights, the VC unit, the screen and tabletop interfaces are all on the network, and Omega Digital is able to control everything from a central point.
AN AWARD WINNING INSTALLATION
Omega’s smart and comprehensive Crestron integration has helped to make PwC’s vast modern workplace operate smoothly, simplifying the way that employees undertake meetings and saving them time by delivering user-friendly solutions that don’t require a panic call to IT. This world-class connected office is a leading example of how to drive productivity in the future workplace and consequently earned Omega Digital a coveted Crestron Integration Award in 2018 for Best Corporate Application.
Commenting on the project, Crestron’s regional director for South Africa, Rupert Denoon states: “As the regional director for Crestron in the territory, I am very proud of Omega Digital, who did a phenomenal job on the Crestron installation at PwC. The project showcased how much Crestron can do from a turn-key perspective and represents the cutting-edge of smart building technology, providing an example for others to follow.”
The deployment of collaboration solutions at the PwC head office in Midrand served as the starting point of a much broader roll-out, Kellaway explains. “Now that the system is up and running effectively at the PwC Tower, we will be standardising the solution to extend to all of PwC’s offices in South Africa and across the African continent,” Kellaway concludes.