Unlocking the Power of the Group with Surface Hub

Veronica Chiu, Windows Business Group Lead, Microsoft Singapore


Collaboration is key to innovation in the 21st century. Thanks to technology, we are now able to build bolder visions and take bigger strides. At the same time, the digital era is highly disrupted and we face complex issues such as increasingly dispersed teams.

Thriving in this age of disruption requires diverse teams to pool unique talents together and problem solve. I believe that unlocking the power of the group is today’s formula for innovation and the key to addressing tomorrow’s challenges.

A Need For Collaboration Tools in the Modern Workspace

Although collaboration plays a vital role in today’s world, many organisations are still lacking the right tools to support an optimal level of teamwork. According to a Forrester study[1], many organisations struggle with gaps in their workplace collaboration technology, where close to one-third of employees (29%) avoid meeting spaces due to insufficient collaboration tools or design. This comes as no surprise as only one in three large and medium meeting rooms are equipped with collaboration tools such as whiteboards and conferencing technology. As a result, teams are not as effective as they can be.
Professionals today conceive collaboration in ways that require a great deal of technology support. Although the usage of mobile devices is enabling more people to work remotely, employees’ top collaboration desire is to have the ability to feel like they like they are working together side by side[2]. They are also keen to have the capability to store, share, and engage in real-time work sessions.

Investments in technologies will make it easier to achieve these outcomes, especially if an organisation is dealing with a large swath of the workforce.

Unlocking Innovation and Bringing Collaboration to a New Level

The Microsoft Surface Hub is the first team device designed to unlock the power of the group. It features a suite of functions that not only enhances the productivity of discussions, but also provides an in-person experience for remote participants. Ultimately, the Surface Hub’s goal is to help people create their best work together.

The Surface Hub supports features such as digital inking and data visualization tools.

The Surface Hub has enjoyed resounding success globally and we have shipped the device to over 2,000 customers in 24 markets just nine months after launch. These customers include two established institutions in Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Fullerton Health. These organisations are looking  to create new ways of communications and collaboration to maximize productivity and outcomes.

Shaping the Future of Learning with Experiential Curriculum

Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of InfoComm Technology offers a broad range of courses, ranging from interactive digital media to cybersecurity. The school places strong emphasis on experiential learning and aims to impart hands-on experience to its students. This will enable them to better apply their skills in the real work environment in the future.

The institution traditionally conducted many of its lessons using projectors and physical whiteboards. However, lecturers faced the constant challenge of lower levels of student engagement in these classes.

Brendon Lam, Deputy Director, School of InfoComm Technology, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, shared that one of the key approaches they are taking to alleviate the situation is to boost the level of interactivity in class. The Surface Hub provides students and lecturers a platform where they can brainstorm and create content in a spontaneous and intuitive fashion.

Lecturer using the Surface Hub to demonstrate to his students how they can movements can be created for 3D animated characters.

One of the modules that capitalises on the Surface Hub’s interactive interface are the 3D animation lessons. Lecturers can now easily manipulate 3D drawings on the screen and bring animated characters to life at their fingertips to clearly illustrate the concepts they are teaching. This is something that educators were not able to accomplish with their traditional classroom tools.

Overseas industry expert conducting a master class using Skype on the Surface Hub.

Another benefit that the Surface Hub brings is the ease of conducting “masterclasses” with overseas industry experts. In the past, the school used to fly their students aboard so that they can learn from a master. However, this can be a time-consuming and costly endeavour. With Surface Hub, Ngee Ann Polytechnic can now easily arrange lessons with overseas guest lecturers using Skype for Business.

Through features such as digital whiteboarding, live cameras and ultra-high definition screens, students can now have lively discussions and interactive brainstorming sessions with industry veterans that are half the world away. This invaluable exposure allows students to widen their horizons and gain practical industry insights.

Brendon revealed that the school is now working on a facial analysis project using the Surface Hub and Microsoft Azure to track sentiments of students in class. This will not only allow the educators to identify the segments in their lectures that cause the most disengagement so that they can tailor their curriculum accordingly, but also use predictive analytics to detect possible at-risk students who are struggling so that they can intervene early.

Together with all the other capabilities that the Surface Hub brings, Ngee Ann Polytechnic is looking to innovate and redefine teaching by creating a more powerful, experiential and engaging experience for all their students.

Fueling Greater Productivity with Better Collaboration

Fullerton Health is Asia’s leading provider of managed healthcare with more than 200 clinics across six countries in the region. The organisation’s mission is to make Asian healthcare more affordable and accessible, and technology plays a pivotal role in making this goal into reality.

One of the ways that the organisation is leveraging technology to improve its internal operations is to drive more productive and collaborative meetings using the Surface Hub. Prior to the deployment, Fullerton Health largely depended on costly conference call facilities to facilitate discussions between employees across different offices and clinics. And one of the persistent problems that plagued during these calls was the difficulty to have effective real-time collaboration.

Ted H Minkinow, Group Chief Information Officer & Chief Procurement Officer, Fullerton Health, shared that the main motivation for the Surface Hub purchase was to enable the company to achieve maximum output for the time that employees invest in meetings and discussions. By driving significantly higher productivity and lower expenditure through the Surface Hub, Fullerton Health can channel more resources into its core competencies to achieve better patient outcomes and more accessible and affordable healthcare.

Fullerton Health employees can now better present and understand data during group discussions.

The Surface Hub provides staff with a complete device that includes the best digital tools to brainstorm and create together. The OneNote-based whiteboard tool feels as natural to write on as a traditional whiteboard, allowing ideas to flow naturally during discussions. The device also allows the employees to bring rich, multimedia data into the conversation so that they can better visualise and analyse data. This allows the organisation to make more informed decisions and formulate relevant and concrete action plans.

The Surface Hub’s ability to hold meetings with participants around the region is also another frequently used functionality. Stakeholders across various countries can now easily hold a virtual face-to-face meeting, allowing the company to save considerable amount of travel and accommodation expenses. During these meetings, the Surface Hub’s cameras can also follow the presenters around, making the session more interactive and lively. The live visuals provided by the cameras also enhance communications as it conveys not just verbal but also non-verbal messages, making it a lot easier for the participants to understand what is being said.

Lastly, the Surface Hub makes it easy for employees to share work and ideas when their meeting is over. All inputs and collaterals created during the discussion can be saved and emailed to the relevant parties, allowing them to either continue the dialogue online or quickly start where they left off in future conversations.

Ted holding a Skype meeting with stakeholders located in different countries through the Surface Hub.

Ted shared that Fullerton Health is now proactively looking to expand the role of the Surface Hub within the organisation. Besides exploring the adoption of the Surface Hub in their offices in Australia, China and Indonesia, they are also thinking of testing the device to greet patients in some of their clinics. By leveraging facial recognition capabilities, patients can be efficiently and seamlessly registered via the Surface Hub when they stepped into the clinic. This is truly another innovative example of how organisations are making creative use of the Surface Hub to transform different aspects of their industry.

To find out more about Surface Hub, visit https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-surface-hub/en-sg

[1] https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-surface-hub/en-us/case-studies/forrester

[2] https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-surface-hub/en-us/case-studies/forrester