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The TPO Interview: Deloitte's Jerome Oglesby & Aaron Roe on the company's secret weapon: visual collaboration with everyone!

June 24, 2013 | Telepresence Options

Deloitte Interview

Telepresence Options publisher Howard Lichtman talks with Deloitte's global CTO Jerome Oglesby and Multimedia Services Leader Aaron Roe

In our continuing survey of telepresence and effective visual collaboration, Telepresence Options took an in-depth look at Deloitte. The company that does business in 650 offices in 154 countries has a heretofore untold secret of success: a visual collaboration program that connects Deloitte practitioners literally and figuratively at the speed of light. The company has been at the forefront of inter-company telepresence and video, connecting the firm to partners, vendors and most importantly clients, allowing them to make subject matter experts available around the world. Telepresence Options Publisher Howard Lichtman sat down to talk with two of the executives who made this program a reality at Deloitte, Global CTO Jerome Oglesby and Multimedia Services Leader Aaron Roe.

Howard Lichtman: Gentlemen, I want thank you both for sitting down today. So, 650 offices in 154 countries, 57 different immersive multi-camera, multi-codec systems, over 400 traditional video conferencing systems. How do you manage all that?

Jerome Oglesby: So, we chose to manage all of our video and visual collaboration spaces ourselves. We saw early on that we wanted to do more than just have meetings with video, so we built our own internal video and network operation center. Aaron and his team run that center. That center works 24x7, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we manage it with more of a concierge-type service. So we make connecting in our rooms very seamless, very painless. Our practitioners and our partners show up at a meeting, the meeting and the video conference is already set-up, it's framed. Basically, it's a white-glove type service. But we do this for all of our member firms around the world.
Deloitte Jerome Oglesby

Deloitte's Video Network Operations Center

HL: And what does the video network operation center look like in the background? How many people does it take? What kind of skill sets? Give me some scope around what it takes to manage all those meetings.


Get the full story on Deloitte's world class visual collaboration by reading the Telepresence Options Magazine cover story: Deloitte: Open for Business at the Speed of Light.

Aaron Roe: I'll just say it's a substantial investment. It's 25 people to cover a 24x7 operation. And there really are three primary skill sets. First is customer service, who are answering the phone, IMs, emails, and booking requests. Then there are the producers, no different than a TV studio producer. Their job is to set up the meeting on time, make sure it's fully outlined and providing the highest quality experience. And then there's the management, so if something goes bump in the middle of a meeting, there's someone there to grab it and figure out what's going on behind the scenes. We're seeing on a low day 60 meetings and peaking out about 120 meetings a day.

HL: Amazing. Any other stats? I know, I think you mentioned that you guys are a hit 5-9s?

JO: We'd hit 5-9s on our infrastructure. Room availability is higher, I couldn't give you the exact stat on room availability. Incident rates very low. Meeting success rates in the 99th percentile.

HL: When the meeting fails, why does it fail?

JO: It's usually an external connection. Something just outside of the control of the team. On occasion, you have a camera break, a microphone break, something, somewhere. Simple, but I mean, very rarely. A lot of corrective things are happening in the background to positively test that so that it doesn't impact the meeting. One of the things we do is when there is an incident, we'll reach out ahead of time to the people who are booked in that room and try to find them another resource.

Deloitte Jerome OglesbyJerome Oglesby, Deloitte's global chief technology officer

HL: Managing this all yourself, what advantages do you get?

JO: One of the advantages is that we are able to look at what we do and what we do as a firm and customize the delivery for Deloitte. So, we look at how our practitioners work. We look at how our practitioners connect with our clients. We look at all the new technologies that are happening in terms of the mobile device space, the social media space with video, learning systems, our room-based systems. So we're able to just integrate all of that in a way that we think needs meets our needs. We're able to really push the envelope around the technologies that we want to use. How do we want to use those technologies? What are the new things that we can look at in terms of technologies? Different ways of using the technology that you wouldn't think of in a traditional managed service. So, we're really looking at how we enable our practitioners, but we want to enable them in a way that is like no other service that they can get just through a traditional managed service.

HL: So, the focus is the customer because you are the customer?

AR: Correct.

HL: How would you describe the value of interactive video to Deloitte and what should other CTOs know? What are the lessons learned from the program here?

AR: I think the value for us is in three areas. Learning and enabling our practitioners to learn, communications, and stay in touch with our practitioners. We're staying in touch with our clients as well. And then there's a value proposition around total cost of ownership and lowering our total cost of ownership. We've seen over the years with using our video collaboration space that we've been able to lower our costs in terms of travel and in terms of learning for our practitioners. And I think that CTOs and NCIOs look to still remain relevant within the industry and with what they do. It's really about how you create that value proposition for your firm. For us that was a value proposition for Deloitte. And I think CTOs can look to that and look for ways to use telepresence and visual collaboration to drive those value propositions.

HL: Okay. What's the value or what's the value in connecting with partners and vendors and the clients? Where does the value come there?

JO: The intimate communication that it creates for Deloitte and for our clients. Being able to have that presence--which is almost a life-like presence--with our clients and real time. We think that's extremely valuable. We think that creates a huge value proposition. It really sets us apart from having that impersonal interaction with clients but having that really life-like presence and collaboration with clients.

HL: Now that you guys are using this to enable your subject matter experts to be kind of on-site with clients, how does that affect the bottom line for Deloitte?

JO: There's a few things. There's some unmeasured bottom line results that we see in our practitioner's quality of life, not spending as much time having to travel from meeting to meeting or client to client. There's also some unmeasured things in terms of the interaction that we create with our clients and with our business partners. And then there's some measured things in terms of reduced costs for our clients as they travel. There are measured things that we look at in terms of the lost time and lost productivity that a practitioner would have in serving their client.

Deloitte Aaron Roe

Aaron Roe, Deloitte's multimedia services leader

HL: Aaron, I know that you've probably built more video network operation centers than anybody else in the industry. You've done it for media, you've done it for communications, you've done it all over the place. How do you see your role here at Deloitte?

AR: My role is unique. I actually am in an awesome opportunity to see the full fruition of video collaboration from beginning all the way through end. My job today is to enable our practitioners to collaborate, to be productive, to be there at a client's site at a moment's notice, responding to those emergencies that may happen in whatever part of the world it is, taking our subject matter experts and putting them on-site. I would say further roles of mine are to enable Deloitte to speak to the mainstream press from our invested resources that we have with this. Enabling our message to be heard across the world at a moment's notice through leveraging existing technologies we've invested in.

HL: And so the program is probably three years old. How have you seen it develop in your time here?

AR: The program is older than three years. The initial start actually began 2006, I believe. And I would say it was a rough start at the beginning. But we're just starting to pick up pace. And if I were to look at where we are today versus three years ago I'd say, "Yeah, the plane's taken off and we're flying." But where I think we really are is the wheels just came off the ground and we're about to see this thing take launch.

HL: And how do you measure success and what are your performance measurements for the program?

AR: There's lots of things you can use to measure success. When I interviewed with Jerome I said, "You know, Jerome, my ultimate goal or where I really think when we hit success is gonna be when we're enabling the firms to drive revenue through video technologies." And that's where, I think, we're just starting to see. We're enabling the firms to connect to their clients at a moment's notice, to have those conversations. And the quality of the experience, the quality of the video, all of that is really key to where we're at today and things I would say what we look at as we measure success.

HL: Take us through some of the statistics, because I think that's something people would be interested in. I mean, you manage a lot of meetings, you're able to achieve 5-9s on the infrastructure. Take people through understanding that.

AR: Some of our key performance indicators that we really look at on a daily basis is video infrastructure availability. We treat it as mission critical, no different than we treat a mail server or a PBX system. So, we put everything it takes to make it a 5-9s available operations, 24/7. Our folks are always there on-site working to make sure that the meeting experience is top notch. We really measure meeting success and meeting success is can the practitioner meeting happen? Can he walk in with his agenda, sit down have his meeting, get up and walk out and never ever have an obstacle interrupt that presentation? And so, when we think about that piece, I think that's really a fine measurement of our success because people no longer worried about whether or not the technology will work or fail. It's, "Oh, I'm going in to meet with my client." "Oh, I'm going in to have my conversation with my boss or my supervisor or my peer." Whoever it may be.

Deloitte Jerome Oglesby

Deloitte University Straddles the Earth at 700,000 Square Feet

HL: So talking about learning, we're at Deloitte University, a world class learning facility. Tell us a little bit how video plays a role here.

JO: Deloitte University is a state-of-the-art learning facility. When we put the facility together and built the facility, it's really based on virtual learning as well as in-classroom learning and physical learning. We use technology in three different ways here at Deloitte University. It's used to connect our practitioners virtually to other classrooms around the country and around the world. It's providing the same type of experience while you're here at Deloitte University also while you may be external to Deloitte University in one of our virtual classrooms. But we also have a collection of virtual tools; digital white boards, multi-media digital walls where our practitioners can interact with those media walls. Digital displays where practitioners are able to pull up their colleagues and look at what their colleagues are doing around the world as well as those colleagues right here at Deloitte University that they may not know are here. So we look for a lot of different ways to integrate the technology into what we do at this facility.

Deloitte Jerome Oglesby

Designed by Deloitte - TeleClassrooms

HL: So the room that we're sitting in right now is a specially designed learning environment. Tell me a little bit about this room.

AR: Yeah, so this room is what I would call a "Design by Deloitte" tele-classroom. In this room, really what we've done is we've sat down to understand what is takes to make the learning environment more collaborative, more immersive. So if you think about the high-end telepresence rooms and how those bring you to that interaction with people, we're taking that same experience and now we're taking it into the learning environment so the people sitting at these tables can collaborate around the world with other people in other rooms. We actually have the ability for these three video monitors behind me to be connected to three different tele-classrooms or thirty different tele-classrooms, whatever it may be, that provide break-out sessions so in a one-on-one we can collaborate and then in an instructor-lead from the podium we can provide those type of instructor lead courses as well.

HL: Where is the revenue piece going to come from?

JO: I think the value's not necessarily in the revenue generation piece. It's in the connection that we make with those clients. It's the value proposition that we see and how much of a connection can we build with our clients, with our partners. That, in turn, generates some revenue, and we don't put a measurement on that. But we do put a measurement on the interactions that we build, the relationships that we build, and the long lasting relationships that we build with our clients and partners.

HL: Is the reason you guys focus so heavily on telepresence and multi-camera, multi-codec, is to get that experience with the client to be able to feel like you're across the table?

JO: Absolutely. We want those interactions to feel like they're live interactions, face to face across the table. That's what some of the immersive systems give us, especially the higher end immersive systems. It gives us that capability to feel like you're across the table with that partner or that client or that partner, business partner. And we think that's where we really want to get.

HL: Can you measure that? Do you know how many folks you're talking to outside the firm?

AR: Yeah, I would say we're connecting to about a 185 clients on a monthly basis right now.

HL: Wow.

AR: We actually manage a database of over 5,000 video endpoints around the world.

HL: Nice. Do you guys use public rooms?

AR: We do use public rooms. We use client rooms, we'll use mobile devices. We'll bring clients and recruits in on their laptops even.

HL: What are you still working on?

AR: I would say our booking strategy. And it's not just our payment plan, I think it's the booking strategies around the world for every firm. Those seem to be the number one obstacle that organizations face. How do you book people in rooms in the same interface? How do you have that exact experience? Scalability's the other one that we're gonna face as a pain point. Right now we're nearing 12,000 hours of video collaboration, and if we're to double that you know, we can't just continually add head count and infrastructure and all the other things to support that.

Deloitte Jerome Oglesby

Deloitte Video Usage Since Building their Own VNOC

HL: Jerome, how has visual collaboration transformed Deloitte and the way you do business? What can you do now that you couldn't before you had made this kind of investment?

JO: The transformation has been, I think, hugely successful. Our practitioners look for opportunities to use video conferencing and video collaboration versus looking to make that trip or make the travel arrangement as their first resort. We've seen video conferencing take off tremendously. As Aaron said, we've had over 5,000 hours of video conferencing just in the last eight months, which translates to about 12,000 to 13,000 hours of video conferencing. So we've seen the trend take off. We've seen the trend happen. The transformation has been huge in terms of how we're using video conferencing, how we're using visual collaboration. So it's not just about the meeting, it's really about can we enable the learning pieces, can we enable our communication piece, can we enable our presentation piece? And we think that's been hugely successful.

HL: Now, on the presentation side, Aaron was telling that me you guys have just turned on streaming. What's the goal there? What's the evolution of the program?

JO: Now, the streaming piece is actually in our communication piece, not the presentation piece. And that's because we treat communication as a connection; interaction two way. And for us, we want to enable streaming so that it's not just one way, it's actually two-way communication. So we think that's the next step that we're heading to in evolution. It's not just about streaming to our practitioners. It's our executives and our partners being able to stream media to industry experts, have industry collaboration with executives in other branches of industry. We think this has been successful in a lot of different ways.

HL: We're in a specially designed distance-learning room that you guys have designed. Aaron was telling me that you guys were actually putting these on college campuses to be able to bring content into Deloitte on your own dime. What's the strategy there?

JO: The strategy is that we look to be collaborative and we also are looking for opportunities to be industry leaders. We partner with a lot of universities in building mind share and building knowledge spaces and we think just being able to partner with universities and other learning institutions really help what we're trying to do. It provides us a lot of insight, a lot of knowledge, it creates a lot of partnerships that we're trying to create. So we just think it's something that we have to do to continue being successful.

HL: As you look 24 months out ahead, what's exciting to you? What do you think is interesting? Where do you wanna take it in the next two years?

JO: The streaming media piece is definitely one of those areas where we're going to have some real payback. There are other things when you start looking at visual collaboration in terms of integrating with social media, integrating with business applications, starting to move more to the mobile piece. We're very heavily invested in our mobile platforms. All of those spaces lend themselves to a lot of technology advances in where we'd like to be.

HL: And you can reach a room at Deloitte from any mobile device that has a video capability.

JO: The whole premise behind that is that we want to make sure that we have the ability to enable our practitioners anytime, anywhere, on any device. And we want to be able to have that interaction, not only from the mobile device but all the way back into our immersive room systems. So we've enabled that capability across all those platforms to ensure that we have that seamless connectivity for our practitioners and our partners.

HL: Okay. Is there anything I forgot to ask you guys?

JO: I would just say that we really think this is a major technology. It's a technology that has transformed the way we actually do collaboration and do communications to some degree, not only with our practice but also the industry. We think it's one that's going to be with us for a while. We think it's a major play that we are betting on and I think there's a lot of advantages for the technology. I'm looking for more technology advances to come.

AR: I do think mobile devices is huge. Streaming is huge. I think the distance learning aspect is gonna be the other transformation that we're really going to start to see come back and really take precedence as we look towards the future.

HL: Is that just the ability to leverage a trainer in different places using what you have or is that bringing in or is it all of the above?

AR: It's all of the above.


Howard Lichtman is the Founder and President of the Human Productivity Lab, a telepresence consultancy and research firm that helps organizations design telepresence and visual collaboration strategies and deploy and future-proof investments.� He is also the publisher of Telepresence Options, the #1 website on the Internet covering telepresence and visual collaboration technologies and the Editor of the monthly Telepresence Options Telegraph and the bi-annual Telepresence Options Magazine, the world's most widely read publication covering telepresence technologies.


Deloitte.� The company runs one of the most successful visual collaboration programs on the planet.� It is a network that connects 57 multi-camera, multi-codec telepresence environments, 483 traditional videoconferencing rooms, and thousands of desktops and mobile users.� We recently profiled Deloitte for the cover story of Telepresence Options Magazine.� This Summer's magazine is focused on B2B / inter-company video with partners, vendors, and customers. �We thought that Deloitte's program that connects with 185 clients a month made it a superb case study for how to do B2B video right. For the article Telepresence Options' publisher Howard Lichtman sat down with Deloitte's global chief technology officer Jerome Oglesby and multimedia collaboration guru Aaron Roe.� In the interview we discuss how and why Jerome and Aaron bucked convention wisdom and built their own Video Network Operations Center, the benefits of multi-camera, multi-codec telepresence environments, and the importance of delivering video on any device. You can get instant access to the iPad-friendly digital version of Deloitte: Open for Business at the Speed of Light @ You can order postage-paid hard copies of the magazine Here.�

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