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Creative teams spotlight challenges in workplace collaboration

June 10, 2015 by

by Eric Hanson, VP of Marketing

Last week, Fuze sponsored a week-long event in New York celebrating the art and technique of the American commercial, organized by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP). AICP Week ended with an award show for the year’s best work across 22 categories from cinematography, to visual effects to the best comedy commercial. The award-winning work becomes part of a permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Fuze AICP Event

For me, this was somewhat of a homecoming. Prior to Fuze, I co-founded a creative services company that provided visual effects, color correction, and creative editorial services. I had the honor of working with some great creative directors that produced award-winning work, some of which aired during Super Bowls. In parallel, my team worked on feature films including Avatar, Hunger Games and Iron Man.

Moving to Fuze in 2012 was out of a passion to improve the creative process. For more than a decade, the creative services industry supporting feature films had evolved into a more decentralized and globally distributed model to support film studio demands to raise the bar for the quality of work, while at the same time cut costs and leverage tax incentives where possible.

“For more than a decade, the creative services industry supporting feature films had evolved into a more decentralized and globally distributed model ... It was clear that the advertising market would go through a similar transition.”
It was clear that the advertising market would go through a similar transition. The agency model had been under increasing pressure from clients to do more with less. I stay in touch with many agency creatives and producers and they all say the same thing - gone are the days where they worked on one project at a time and could enjoy their stay at Shutters in Santa Monica. Today, they juggle multiple projects, need to be in multiple places at once, and when they do travel for projects, they are often anchored to their hotel room reviewing work or busting out new creative for other projects.

So, why is Fuze sponsoring an awards show for the commercial advertising industry? A few reasons: 1) Fuze has many customers in the creatives services industry - post-production film studios, creative agencies, networks of independent creatives, etc. and 2) the collaboration challenges creative teams face are very similar to the modern challenges of distributed teams in other industries.

Fuze AICP Event

Most creative projects are broken into several phases and the tools and process used in each phase are typically disconnected. It is a combination of collaboration among distributed teams and communication with customers for review and approval at multiple stages: the pitch to secure the business, pre-production work to organize and align teams and scope the project, production work filming on location, post-production work at specific locations where a lot of the heavy lifting for visual effects occurs, and final review, approval and delivery.

From a project and crew perspective the best work comes from a team that can gel. Once upon a time, there were “war rooms” for the client/project work. It was a gathering place that was secure and held the entire history of the work. As old crew moved to other projects and new crew were added to the team, at a glance at the wall one could get a high-level view and immediate perspective of the work.

With the trend toward distributed teams, not only have the tools used by many been disconnected, but the teams themselves have been challenged to develop the level of rapport that historically only existed through physical proximity. As one executive creative director commented: “The work today lacks the togetherness that helped teams quickly generate great work.”

“The work today lacks the togetherness that helped teams quickly generate great work.” -- Executive Creative Director
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities to the challenges of modern work in general -- highly distributed teams, increasing use of outside contractors, project-based collaboration with cross-functional teams, and the need to communicate effectively with customers from anywhere. In many ways, the creative world is just slightly ahead of the curve. They have been living this reality for some time.

Fuze is trying to address some of the core challenges around distributed team collaboration that are felt by creative teams, and, increasingly, virtual teams in almost every segment of business today. In many ways, staying close to the creative world and participating in events like AICP Week gives us a window into emerging collaboration trends in the workplace.

“Fuze is trying to address some of the core challenges around distributed team collaboration that are felt by creative teams, and, increasingly, virtual teams in almost every segment of business today.”
To that end, we recently announced a private beta for a new product called Fuze Spaces, and early impressions from agency creatives indicate that it is the closest approximation to the physical “war rooms” in terms of a gathering place for people and work. It combines real-time communications capabilities and persistent project spaces to help streamline project communication and collaboration for distributed teams. We invite you to join us and help shape a tool that will help teams like yours deliver great work.

Fuze AICP Spaces

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