At a Glance
- A culture of face-to-face collaboration
- Global reach
- Design, engineering, and disaster recovery
With Video Collaboration, Shimizu Builds the Future
From subway lines and factories to offshore wind farms, Shimizu Corporation is always looking to the future. One of the world's top 20 architectural, civil engineering, and construction firms, Shimizu is, at any given moment, immersed in more than 1,000 construction projects worldwide. The $13.5 billion Japanese company creates landmark structures, often in environmentally sensitive or disaster-prone areas. Building the world of tomorrow is difficult, complex work, so Shimizu's 11,000 employees must always be in sync, no matter where they are.
Now, a video collaboration network built around Polycom RealPresence solutions is helping the construction giant align operations, manage projects, respond to natural disasters, and save time and money throughout Japan and the world.
An Upgrade from Web Conferencing
In years past, Shimizu managers traveled to construction sites to ensure projects remained resourced and on schedule. But travel was time-consuming and expensive, so in 2003 the company implemented a web conferencing solution. Poor audio and video quality – and constant adjustments by users – doomed the early approach. "Too much time and preparation went into holding a web conference," recalls Akihiro Ichihashi, manager of the infrastructure planning group within Shimizu's information systems department. "This defeated the purpose of making our meetings more productive."
Today, Shimizu connects thousands of employees across the world with more than 150 Polycom video collaboration systems, in addition to desktop and mobile environments. Ichihashi says the ability to work face-to-face using high-definition video, audio, and content enables engineers, executives, and project managers to meet with customers or employees in the field anytime, anywhere. "Polycom technology completely changed the meeting experience for us," he says.
The impact is felt throughout the company:
- Construction site operations. Managers keep close tabs on the progress of major projects at more than 1,000 remote locations.
- Sales teams. Daily video meetings keep teams focused on large-scale deals.
- Corporate events. Shimizu's CEO regularly hosts companywide meetings via video.
- Branch office coordination. "Video collaboration is fast becoming an indispensible part of our branch operations," says Satoshi Kurosawa of the Kanto branch planning division, whose office holds 15 multi-party video meetings a month.
- Training and design reviews. The company saves money by conducting design reviews and technical and safety training workshops over video.
- Business continuity. When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, managers relied on the Polycom network to ensure employees were safe, provide guidance to on-site staff, and rapidly make vital business decisions in hard-hit areas.
Hideaki Takei, information systems department manager, explains that the popularity of video collaboration is about more than technology: "In our company culture, face-to-face is very important as it boosts confidence and enables meeting participants to read emotional cues. Especially among the more senior employees, video has provided a wonderful solution to bridging distances while maintaining the face-to-face meeting experience."
And while it's crucial to Shimizu's success today, video collaboration may be even more important tomorrow. Among its forward-looking projects: building colonies on the moon. Now that's defying distance.