activisionlogo Robert Durand, the PR Director at LifeSize , myself and Thomas Fenady, the Director of IT for Activision participated in a panel discussion around the adoption and use of HD video conferencing equipment and services to improve business.

Robert introduced us, and I presented these charts describing the business benefits and attributes of the new video conferencing experience. Interestingly, virtually all participants in the presentation (about 60 people) admitted having participated in classic ISDN-based video conference within the past five years. 

Thomas' presentation was terrific. He told the story of Activision's experience with HD video conferencing from LifeSize. The business is facing enormous pressures to accelerate franchise game cycles from once every two years to every year. He described a number of applications within their co-development, executive review and software QA cycles that showed how HD video conferencing changed the business process and contributed significantly to the accelerated development cycle.

Game review with HQ. At major product review stages, the remote development team (Wisconsin, Europe, Asia, Northern California) has to show their efforts to senior corporate management. This process used to involve lots of people flying to remote places or people flying to southern California (HQ). Using the H.239 interface, the pre-review software release never leaves the development studio. A build is typically 10 G, so it's a large file to transfer around the world.

Remote software Quality Assurance. The company has QA in southern California and in Dublin Ireland. In the past, the QA team would create a VHS recording of the game state and dialog depicting the bug. The tape would be FedExed to the development team's location and then reviewed over the phone with the development team. They fix the bug and send a revised load back to prove it's been in compliance. Using HD video conferencing, the QA team can instantly review the bug with the development team. Taking that process latency out of the process, QA time had been cut by a third.

Integration Steering Committee. Activision and Vivendi Games have merged to create a new entity, Activision Blizzard and as in any merger of companies there is a need for an integration steering committee to help set priorities and policies around the fundamental challenges in bringing two businesses, two cultures and two sets of practices together. Members of this key executive committee participate from around the world using HD video conferencing.

Remote sales offices. New product introductions are exciting times for any company, but for a video gaming powerhouse like Activision Blizzard, it is important to be able to share the game experience with coworkers all around the world. For sales people first hand experience are keys to exciting buyers at major retailers, but really hard to do when the product isn't shipping and shouldn't ship for fear of security breaches. This approach takes remote motivation to a new level.

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