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GETTING TO THE HUB OF THINGS

Over a year ago I wrote about Microsoft Surface Hub (Installation magazine, October 2015), and how – delayed shipments aside – the industry expected big things from it. Revolutionary; Game-changer; Next big thing; Fundamental step change: just some of the acclamatory comments made to me about the Hub by those with a stake in its success.

Now, more than two years since it first unveiled (January 2015), and a year since it started shipping (January 2016), how has it been received? It’s fair to say it has had a somewhat bumpy start, with those initial shipping delays making way for stock shortages (resolved in September 2016, when Microsoft fulfilled all outstanding orders and the Hub moved into stock surplus for the first time), price increases, and – it’s reported by some – technical glitches.

Microsoft’s own research study, conducted by Forrester Consulting (‘The Total Economic ImpactTM Of Microsoft Surface Hub: Cost Savings and Business Benefits Enabled by Surface Hub’), was released in February 2016, perhaps a little early in the Hub’s life cycle given the shipping delays – although early adopters formed the basis for its conclusions.

Examining the “potential ROI businesses may realise by deploying Surface Hub in traditional and nontraditional spaces”, Forrester interviewed several Surface Hub early adopters, to report on the costs and benefits they experienced, “to better understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with a Surface Hub implementation”.

Results were favourable, perhaps unsurprisingly, with improved meeting productivity – specifically for initiating meetings with remote participants and handling post-meeting tasks; reduced meeting room equipment costs and no printing costs; improved results from client meetings held in Surface Hub-enabled rooms, leading to more and larger sales; and improved collaboration and business impact.

But early, pre-shipping praise and hot-off-the-blocks whitepapers aside, how is the Hub doing ‘on the ground’, right now? AVMI, one of Microsoft’s chosen strategic partners, has recently been ramping up its Surface Hub sales/hire and marketing, and Jason Turner, AVMI business innovation director is a huge fan. “For me where the device stands out is the ability to get the meeting started from the moment you walk in the room,” he told me. “Up and running within seconds of touching the screen. Walk up and use: it is exactly that.”

It’s perhaps still early to say just how successful the Microsoft Surface Hub has been, or whether it will live up to all the hype and expectation. However, the signs are good that is may indeed be a game-changer, in terms of shaking up workplace collaboration as a disrupting technological application. It remains to be seen if Surface Hub is the product of choice after the dust settles on this mini revolution. What’s clear is that – as is the case in today’s post-Brexit, post-Trump world – things are unlikely to be ever the same again.

By Bigger Boat Chief of Police Rob Lane. This is an abridged version of a commissioned piece for Installation magazine, January 2017. Read the full version here.

robGETTING TO THE HUB OF THINGS