How a telecom leader fuels innovation with a single collaboration hub
The Charter Communication headquarters. Charter is a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator serving more than 32 million customers in 41 states through its Spectrum brand.
Collaboration. Fostering fresh ideas. Seamless communication.
“Those are all things that are near and dear to our hearts,” said Richard Bugbee, director of the voice and video infrastructure team at Charter Communications. “They’re built into our DNA.”
If any organization knows the value of staying connected in an increasingly hybrid work environment, it’s Charter. As one of the leading providers of broadband connectivity, mobile services, and cable television, Charter serves more than 32 million customers in 41 states.
Whether delivering state-of-the-art residential and business services, distributing award-winning news coverage, or producing original programming, it’s safe to say that their team stays busy.
“And we’re constantly expanding and working on new projects,” Bugbee said. From emergent technology to advanced engineering platforms, Charter has their hand in many tech-industry pots. With so much innovation happening all at once, it’s no wonder their 100,000 employees needed a collaboration tool that helps them stay on the same page.
Bugbee’s team asked themselves an important question: Which solution fit into their existing ecosystem and the environment they had already created? Although they did their due diligence and considered many other options, “Webex just made sense.” The Charter team loved the Webex devices they were already using in their conference rooms and saw great potential in adding the Webex App to their collaboration portfolio for video meetings, messaging, and VoIP calling.
“We’ve been a fervent adopter of Webex,” Bugbee said.
With a solution in hand, they set off to begin its integration.
One collaboration platform across the entire enterprise
Establishing Webex as their single collaboration platform throughout the organization was a core priority.
“There has to be the ability to communicate effectively from wherever you are to whoever you need to reach,” Bugbee said. “When everyone’s using different tools that creates a little bit of confusion and roadblocks in that journey.”
However, innovators like Charter know that change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why they took their time introducing Webex to their enormous user base.
“We rolled it out initially to our internal IT teams and we just sort of let it grow organically,” Bugbee said. “We wanted to get a feel of ‘what’s the immediate reaction? How do people immediately feel about this tool? Is there immediate acceptance? Is there immediate kickback? And what do people really feel about the experience that they’re getting with this tool?’”
At first, some users continued with the habits they’d developed over the years. Bugbee’s team launched an internal campaign to demonstrate why Webex was the better solution.
A major tipping point was an animated video–created by a senior instructional designer on the Charter team–that showcased Webex’s advanced video conferencing, webinar, and team collaboration capabilities.
Soon, everyone was on board. Charter ultimately achieved a 100% adoption rate with the Webex App, across all 100,000 people on the Charter team.
With one collaboration ecosystem for their entire enterprise, Charter quickly reaped the benefits—both from the Webex App and their Webex devices. Charter employees have the same collaboration experience whether they’re in the office, working from home, or on the go.
“If I wanted to get up right now and walk away, I can move this meeting to my mobile device and walk to my car,” Bugbee said. No matter the location, it’s the same experience as the desktop app.
And because their newest conference rooms are equipped with cloud-connected Webex Room Kits–which integrate cameras, speakers, and microphones into a single device that pairs with flat panel displays for high-quality video conferencing–all users are able to wirelessly connect and control the room with ease.
In addition to this flexibility, Bugbee is especially drawn to Webex’s ability to remove background noise during meetings.
“We’ve seen a huge impact with that feature alone. I still think it’s magic,” Bugbee said.
Video conferencing and more: Getting creative with collaboration
Founded in 1993, Charter’s roots harken back to the early innovation and mom-and-pop beginning of the now high-tech cable industry we know today. That innovative spirit is exactly what inspired Charter to leverage Webex’s open architecture to further enhance their team’s collaboration experience.
Initially, Bugbee was mainly focused on delivering seamless video conferencing. However, he soon discovered that Webex offered so much more.
His team began creating custom feature sets for their users.
“We’re leveraging the APIs and different scripting abilities to get information into Webex, or even out of Webex,” he said.
Charter employees are increasingly looking for ways to accomplish even more tasks and workflows within Webex, without needing any other tools. For example, Bugbee’s team created an internal help bot for rapid support that users can interact with right inside Webex Messaging. Over time, the Charter team has realized the world is their oyster when it comes to Webex.
“As long as I have Webex, I can do my entire day. I don’t need any other tools–it’s all here,” Bugbee said.
Creating richer virtual events and more engaging experiences
In addition to using the Webex App for day-to-day collaboration, Charter also started hosting large internal and external events on Webex Webinars—a scalable webinar platform for interactive event experiences.
Along the way, they discovered some best practices that helped ensure their events were a success. For example, while each group within Charter could run their own events independently, to ensure a sophisticated, streamlined experience, they opted to build a dedicated team to handle virtual events, using Webex as the single engine powering everything.
“We saw the growth of our tool, we saw all the different variations of users and user experiences and how they were leveraging it,” Bugbee said. “We wanted to make sure that as people used the tool they were aware of the power and experience that came along with it that could be leveraged.”
His team zeroed in on an interesting question: What if they delivered that experience themselves? That’s when Charter’s experience team was born.
“We’ll do all of the production for your events and we do it all with Webex,” Bugbee explained.
When assembling his experience team, Bugbee looked for individuals who could communicate effectively, always had a smile on their face, and put customers at ease.
“It really helps when users are having a good experience and receiving the proper support,” Bugbee said. “It makes it easier for an event to go off seamlessly without any hiccups that could have easily been avoided.”
The new team began hosting events, meetings, and webinars using Webex Webinars. One feature that they especially like to use during webinars is Slido, an audience engagement tool Webex offers to take virtual and hybrid events to another level.
“My experience team really honed in on how to use Slido and we try to promote it every chance we get with our events. We’ve done trivia games, and all kinds of Q&A and polling with Slido in live events and people have really enjoyed that,” Bugbee said. “That’s really been a big plus for us because polling historically and Q&A has been cumbersome to handle, deal with, and manage. Slido made that a much simpler experience for us.”
Continued evolution, powered by Webex
With Webex as their foundation, Charter continues to innovate and look for ways to make their communication and collaboration even better.
“One of my current missions with my team while we’re developing these collaboration spaces is ‘how can we make the collaboration experience more enjoyable? How can we make it a more interactive experience for our user base?’” Bugbee said. “That’s a big thing that as an industry we’re focused on. I think we’re going to grow and I’m excited to see what’s coming.”
To hear more about Charter Communications’ innovative journey, watch the Webex Community talk featuring Richard Bugbee. For more information on how Webex can power better collaboration at your organization, get in touch with our team today.
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Jun 1, 2023 — Geoffrey Huang