Connecting Fine+Rare with customers and suppliers around the world
FINE+RARE operates an online trading platform that enables its clientele to buy and sell in a global marketplace.
The company also offers impartial advice, provides free-to-use support software and curates events, tastings, trips and experiences, some in collaboration with the most revered wine producers and suppliers.
The chosen AV company would be tasked with creating and installing a simple audiovisual communications system to facilitate global collaboration and remote presentations.
According to Julian Beckles, Global IT Infrastructure Manager at Fine and Rare Wines, the company introduced video conferencing to collaborate more effectively internally, as well as with partners, suppliers and customers.
This need comes as a result of changing client behaviour in the last few years. In the early years of his tenure, Fine+Rare lacked an audio-visual solution. Julian Beckles put forward the case for more modern audio and video communications. With branches and customers around the world, the need became pressing to improve on ad hoc conferencing apps, clunky cabling and unsatisfactory phone technology that hampered conversations.
The top priority for Beckles was that any system implemented had to be “highly usable and suitable for non-techies.” The AV initiative was bolstered by the interest and support of a Sales Director who recognised “a hole” in the organisation’s communications infrastructure.
Room aesthetics were as important in the project as supporting the technology, so reducing cabling and a wireless solution were overriding requirements. Functionally, Fine+Rare wanted to bring Microsoft Teams into the room although the company had not yet moved fully to Teams.
Beckles says that at the end of the tender process, “Carillion shone through. They suggested how we could keep some of our current infrastructures to accommodate the planned changes ... and their communications were brilliant.”
Dee Reed, Carillion MD, says: “It’s wonderful to hear such appreciation of our attitude and working methods, which always centre on what’s best for the customer. To implement an AV solution that has generated positive transformative results during the pandemic makes us all very proud.”
Carillion absorbed Fine+Rare’s concerns and presented multiple technology options, which provided a welcome alternative to singular ‘take or leave it’ proposals. Once Carillion’s feasibility investigations were complete and options were presented, Fine+Rare felt the final system selection was their choice. Carillion refurbished the Fine+Rare London boardroom, which has become a multi-function room.
Carillion provided a hybrid Poly solution that leveraged the power of a Poly RealConnect license to provide a gateway service between the Poly unit and Fine+Rare’s Teams environment.
External calling options were added to enable outbound Teams invites with One Touch Dialing [OTD] from an iPad. The RealPresence Connect license also facilitates inbound invites from third party conference solutions, including Zoom, BlueJeans and Google.
Other room features include wireless content sharing, overhead speakers, and microphones to support video and audio conferencing. An ambient audio system was added to play background music during live events with a Sonos port to play music through the system via a dedicated iPad and connect to the client's record player.
The top priority for Beckles was that any system implemented had to be “highly usable and suitable for non-techies.”
Feedback has been positive. Simple touch panel controls have proved popular, while Beckles gives Clickshare, which facilitates presentation switching and interaction, a special mention ... “they loved Clickshare.”
The company also wanted to combat its high international call costs and since the new digital conferencing has been in place, Fine+Rare has benefitted from significant savings.
The new AV systems also enabled Fine+Rare staff to be fully productive working away from the office during the pandemic.
The room is currently used for internal meetings to link colleagues working in locations such as Hong Kong and Italy, and new systems also make it simple to speak to and engage with wine sellers.
Among the room’s multiple functions, it is used for events and wine tastings. During the pandemic the room provided a hub for activity and enabled people to participate in events when working from home.
The company saw a massive surge in online sales during 2020-21 and the emergence of a younger generation of wine enthusiasts.
Together with the company’s recent experience with digital communications, Fine+Rare have positive new experiences to reflect on as the company considers the potential for digital initiatives in the future.
Julian Beckles says that Fine+Rare achieved its ‘push-button’ communications objective and a new mindset has developed now that staff have witnessed the benefits of technology being harnessed.