GS1 Australia takes a people-first approach to technology
By implementing Zoom, GS1 Australia's teams were able to reduce costs and streamline collaboration while enhancing productivity.
Now we have a bigger need to be more engaging than ever before. You don’t want to be presenting just another slide deck in a sea of PowerPoints. Hybrid experiences are intended to be multi-directional engagements. They are fun and inclusive, and Zoom enables all of that.
Emile SahharIT Procurement & Assets Specialist, GS1 Australia
GS1 Australia is a nonprofit with 22,000 members. Any organisation with something to retail, like suppliers to Woolworths or Coles for example, becomes a GS1 member to receive a license and the ability to assign barcodes onto their products. GS1 also sets the standards for barcoding globally.
Emile Sahhar leads IT asset procurement on behalf of GS1 Australia. He describes himself as a conduit for procuring any kind of technology for the business. He’s in a strong position to know what will be of most value to users, having been with the company for 16-plus years.
While Emile’s focus is firmly on enabling GS1 teams to do their best work, he’s also passionate about testing the boundaries of modern technology. In fact, GS1 Australia was named overall winner of the 2021 Zoomtopia Innovation Awards – as well as the category winner for Defining the Hybrid Workspace.
Emile believes innovation is largely about making solutions people-centric, because the more seamless they are, the more they are readily embraced by the workforce. “Zoom,” he says, “is an example of a truly fit-for-purpose technology.”
Creating a hybrid future of work
With technology taking an increasingly important role in defining a hybrid future of work, the key is to “stay current,” Emile says. Technology innovation happens at an incredible pace in today’s digital-first world, and aging technology can certainly hold you back. However, running a successful operation means walking a fine line between what people need now and what can grow with them.
“Headsets are popular right now, for example, with people working from home,” he says. “Providing them with headsets that are comfortable, but also giving them the flexibility to perhaps get up and walk away from the desk when they have to, or travel into the office with them when they choose to work from there, are important.” Again, Zoom passes that test.
GS1’s Zoom journey began with solving video lag
Back in 2018, Emile identified a pain point among the presenters of the business, himself included since he is a regular presenter to employees on topics like cybersecurity awareness and organisational technology updates. GS1’s IT department was spending “an extraordinary amount of time” facilitating video conferencing meetings for staff. One of the major challenges was ensuring things would work ahead of every single meeting – that’s to say that the video feed would come through unhindered, and the audio quality would be acceptable.
Emile piloted various video conferencing solutions, running into the same issue time and again: that lagging video caused people to turn off their cameras. This was counterproductive to GS1’s strong desire to deliver human experiences. “They would frequently choose to dial in via the phone, due to audio issues when using computer audio, which is more costly,” he said.
With the arrival of Zoom Meetings, all that changed. “People soon began to trust the tech,” Emile says of Zoom’s unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform that scores so highly for quality on TrustRadius. Equally with Zoom Rooms, they could choose to join a meeting remotely or in person if they happened to be in the office. “I really love that the two are coming together,” Emile says.
The app and integration advantage
Zoom Apps have further elevated GS1’s collaboration capabilities, providing an array of ready apps for embedding into the Zoom platform, for creating exceptional experiences. “I am a big fan of app integrations to extend the use of technology platforms,” Emile says. “I have been using a whiteboarding tool in Zoom Meetings for a while now – creating an immersive scene where I can place myself in front of the content, which includes an interactive whiteboard allowing participants to see both the whiteboard content and the host in the same scene.
“Now we have a bigger need to be more engaging than ever before,” he added. “You don’t want to be presenting just another slide deck in a sea of PowerPoints. Hybrid experiences are intended to be multi-directional engagements. They are fun and inclusive, and Zoom enables all of that.”
Among the many ways in which Emile puts Zoom’s video-led communications platform to work at GS1 are trivia events held in celebration of team birthdays. “I staged one in the style of the TV show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ I integrated open-source streaming and recording platform OBS Studio into the Zoom platform to help with creating an immersive scene that incorporates a virtual background, with overlay graphics and text where the questions would be overlayed in the Zoom meeting, just as you see on the show. And the best part was, people could submit their choice of four answers via their mobile phone and the Zoom meeting would display the responses in real time.”
Some key benefits
For GS1, the many advantages of this new, immersive way of communicating across departments and with external entities include:
- Meetings that are geographically broader, no longer confined to the 20 or so people you can fit in a boardroom. GS1 currently maintains 16 Zoom Rooms.
- The ability to click on a phone number in an email or web page to launch a call via Zoom. Thanks to 20 Zoom Phone licenses added to the platform, users keep on their same headphones for attending meetings as they do for answering calls.
- A marketplace of apps that can be made visible to staff for self-sourcing and submitting a request for time-saving, quality-enhancing tools, via Zoom Apps.
- Tech and subscription cost savings of a third, by switching to Zoom from existing, more complex solutions.
- Further cost savings from fewer inbound phone numbers, of around two-thirds.
Imagination’s the limit!
In 2021 the Zoomtopia global virtual conference was broadcast from a three-dimensional animation set called ‘The Imaginarium,’ demonstrating to delegates that the sky really is the limit when it comes to creating incredible experiences. This was not news to GS1, who is already leading the pack.
“As a presenter, if you are not captivating your audience, whether standing face to face with them or communicating with them via a computer screen, they will multi-task – on their phones or in another tab. You can no longer assume you have their undivided attention,” says Emile, who likes to use a mix of tools embedded into Zoom to customise every meeting experience.
“Sometimes I throw in a quiz to check people’s recall of what they have just heard. Or I might include a poll to gauge opinion. I am in the process of compiling a corporate guide to using the Zoom platform to its full potential, as there is plenty to unlock.”
Everything comes back to ease of use
According to Emile, it’s all about the experience. If you want people to be on board with new technology, you should focus on making it completely seamless. With Zoom, it takes one click for anyone, from the newcomer to the CEO, to participate in an interactive meeting.