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Case Study: Black Hills Energy

With roughly 200 local offices serving more than 27 million mostly rural customers, utility company Black Hills Energy relies heavily on video conferencing for employee collaboration and communication. Over a recent six-month period, the company logged a total of 8.8 million meeting minutes across more than 29,000 meetings. In order to maximize meeting efficiency and provide all employees with a reliably great collaboration experience, the company has standardized their meeting rooms with Jabra PanaCast cameras that offer 180-degree video coverage, attractive pricing and simple installation and use.

According to Brandon Olsen, Manager, Unified Communications at Black Hills Energy, it’s crucial to maximize the efficiency and simplicity of the company’s meeting spaces and digital tools. Like many other companies today, most Black Hills Energy employees join video conferences from small meeting rooms or huddle rooms that seat six to eight participants around a table and include a wall-mounted display, video camera and microphone.

The 180-degree field of view is what first caught Olsen’s eye when he began looking for a better small-room camera solution three years ago. He started testing Jabra’s unique PanaCast cameras, which utilize three camera lenses and integrated artificial intelligence to create an ultra-wide 180-degree view. Since then, Black Hills Energy has integrated more than 50 PanaCast cameras into meeting rooms at its Rapid City, South Dakota headquarters, and another 50 throughout various satellite offices. The company plans to convert every video conferencing room at every location, leaving about 100 to be outfitted with PanaCast cameras in the future.

Olsen explained that meeting rooms developed around the PanaCast camera are more cost-effective than their previous standardized solution, which relied on expensive components from a traditional enterprise solutions manufacturer. In addition to cutting purchase and maintenance costs, the marriage of PanaCast cameras and the Zoom platform simplifies setup and operation.

When activated, PanaCast’s Intelligent Zoom feature uses artificial intelligence to adjust the field of view to include all participants in the conversation.

Olsen explained that even without considering the large cost and time savings, video conferencing is critical for the company’s interoffice communications, especially in winter when some offices located in the Rocky Mountains can be cut off by snowfall for several days. Currently, employees can book a meeting room through scheduling software on an iPad located in each room.

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