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Special brew: blank canvas given the full unified comms treatment

When Little Dot Studios, the digital content agency and media network, relocated to a new premises in London’s Truman Brewery, the company engaged system integrators Cinos to deliver the tech

Comprising over 300 digital experts across the UK, US, Germany and Asia, Little Dot Studios works with world-leading TV, sports and consumer brands to create content for more than 500 YouTube channels globally. The company also runs a digital broadcast network of more than thirty channels across social platforms and OTT video on-demand services, and over the past seven years has grown significantly, necessitating a relocation to a new premises at London’s Truman Brewery. Spread across two floors, the 2,200 sqm space was a blank canvas, and Little Dot Studios sought the expertise of integrators Cinos to help bring it to life.

Scalable vision
Little Dot’s vision was to create a collaborative and scalable space; a space that would grow with the business and offer more user-friendly AV technologies than their previous premises. At the heart of the project was a desire to enable employees to communicate clearly and effectively – amongst themselves but also with clients globally. Quality video conferencing, intuitive room booking and engaging displays were key parts of the new communication strategy wish list. The new AV technologies also needed to join the two floors together and provide a flexible and seamless experience for both desk-based and remote workers.

Spanning eight meeting rooms, the boardroom and the reception area, the solutions also needed to be scalable and easy to operate even for the least technically savvy users.

“From the very beginning the goal was to create a space that’s enjoyable to work in and inspires creativity,” explains Greg Rochford, IT manager at Little Dot Studios. “So much of what we do focuses on visual elements and it was important that we have technologies that allow us to not only display our work, but also enhance communication across the company.”

Cisco solutions
As a Google based business, Little Dot felt limited by the amount of bespoke video conferencing hardware they could implement. Cinos recommended Cisco Webex Room Kits – meeting room hardware that includes a camera, codec, speakers, and microphones integrated in a single device. The all-in-one system integrated with 43in and 55in 4K Samsung displays, fitted throughout the boardroom and meeting rooms.

Additionally, Crestron Room Scheduling systems were chosen for all meeting rooms, with touch-sensitive screens placed outside each room to allow users to easily find and book unoccupied rooms.

To bridge the gap between the Cisco-equipped meeting rooms and Little Dot’s existing G Suite platform, Cinos installed a Pexip interoperability solution. This allows any third-party video conferencing devices and systems to natively join Meet calls, regardless of the vendor. The Pexip solution also syncs with Little Dot’s Google Calendar, so employees can continue scheduling meetings in the way they are used to – although it’s now easier for external users to join the calls.

Digital showcase
To communicate the latest company news and help showcase Little Dot’s work, an Appspace digital signage solution was installed. This system allows company administrators to manage and schedule content on the displays around the office. Each display can showcase different content made up
of images, videos, web pages and live streams. Ideal for joining the two floors of the office together and displaying welcome messages for guests arriving in the reception area.

During the installation and build process, Cinos worked closely with the builders and contractors to meet deadlines and maintain quality. The design was tailored to the space and specifications of the project.

Greg explains: “Cinos created a bespoke and well thought out design [and] based on this I was able to take the schematics and hand them over to the contractors. Every detail had been taken care of, from selecting the right displays right down to the placement of plug sockets and Ethernet ports. This meant that when it came to the installation, there weren’t any issues or problems, everything that everybody needed was in place and it all happened in one fluid motion.”

With the Pexip solution in place, Little Dot is able to connect its G Suite solutions to the Microsoft Office estate of parent company, All Three Media. The result enables cross-platform collaboration between the two companies without having to open any additional software.

“Cinos has given us a seamless video conferencing experience and this means we no longer have to plug in various cables and webcams for video meetings – everything just works,” explains Greg. “The Cisco software allows us to easily collaborate with other meeting rooms in the office, helping to join the two floors together and build a cohesive space.”

Focal point

Two 65in 4K Samsung screens were added to the main boardroom, providing a focal point for staff meetings, video conferences and presentations. To enable precise audio distribution Sennheiser ceiling mounted microphones were installed, alongside a Cisco Room Kit Plus with touch control panel. The further addition of a Crestron HDMI Auto Switcher allows users to share content from multiple in-room sources.

Little Dot’s previous room booking system had a very low user adoption rate. Not only was it costly to maintain but it frequently needed updating.

“Although we had a lot of meetings the rooms were being underutilised,” says Greg. “A big part of the problem was down to the fact that room availability wasn’t linked to our calendars; instead you’d need to walk over and check the iPad for that particular room.”

The new Crestron touch screen booking panels solve this problem. Featuring a green or red background LED illumination that is visible from a distance, they clearly show whether a meeting room is free or occupied. Basic information is automatically displayed on the screen, including start and end times, the remaining duration of the meeting, and who has booked the room.

The Crestron system automatically synchronises with Little Dot’s existing Google Calendar so that users can book rooms from their laptops and computers with no additional software to learn.

Sophisticated infrastructure
With the new solutions in place, content and meeting management is much easier for Little Dot Studios. The Cisco Room Kits and Pexip integration ensures a seamless experience for room participants and enables customers, partners and remote employee users to join sessions with ease. The large high-resolution displays and the Crestron booking panels enable a productive and engaging working environment that supports flexibility and can scale with the business.

Greg concludes: “Our new office is exactly what you’d expect from a creative agency working in the heart of Shoreditch and it’s something we are very proud of. The AV solutions are simple to use and have created a seamless experience for Little Dot staff – wherever they are working. Throughout the project, Cinos has given us advice and the support needed to bring our vision to life and ensure everything ran as smoothly as possible from start to finish.”

Photos: Interior Design: Design With Narrative; Photographer: Chris Snook