Recap: 2019 with Cloud9 Smart

The Cloud9 Smart team crushed 2019! Last year we:

  • Named a new CEO
  • Added new team members
  • Gave the office a facelift
  • Entered into the lighting game
  • Became a Lutron certified Ketra Showroom
  • Were featured in numerous magazines
  • Honored by CE Pro as #47 in their annual Top 100
  • Hosted two successful AIA Summits
  • Had fantastic team events and outings
  • …and pretty much became the most fun kids in the tech-meets-design game!

It was a spectacular year and Cloud9 Smart has seen tremendous growth and success, but most importantly we’ve grown as a team coming together to provide the best possible service.

Que that Bowie jam, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.” After twenty years at the helm our Founder, Fernando Zorrilla, announced that Chris Smith (formerly COO) would be taking the reins as the new Chief Executive Officer of Cloud9 Smart. Equally as important, we had several fantastic new team members join our ranks, and we honestly couldn’t imagine how the office would be without them. Without further ado, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to the Cloud9 Smart class of 2019!

These “rookies” came to play, contributing their unique skill set and hungry energy to our company. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for our new team (existing and newest members alike!).

In 2019 we considered the changes necessary to build upon, and feel great within, our physical space. We began by renovating our showroom with a sleek and modern look – a fresh start! Following the front of house facelift it was time to give our back of house (Operations Office) some love and attention. With our Purchasing Team leading the “Ops Office Refresh” project, we began to clear out, clean up, re-design, and streamline. Multiple team members lent a hand in doubling storage space, altering the layout, and creating an impressive space where our Technicians, Service Team, and Purchasing Department would be the most comfortable and efficient.

While we worked on our internal projects, we continued to complete client projects, gain insight in other areas of smart technology, and finished the year feeling accomplished.

We were especially excited to announce the addition of lighting design to our portfolio of design services. Our Engineering Team played a crucial part in adding this discipline to our offerings. We trained our team to the ALA standards, created spectacular designs, worked alongside architects and clients, while establishing the standard for service and deliverables for lighting projects. It’s essential for us to feel confident in every service we provide to meet the expectations of the client. Keeping the ball rolling, we had the bright idea to become a Lutron certified Ketra Showroom. We had already fallen in love with Ketra while installing it during our showroom renovation. When we did so, there wasn’t even a standard or program for a Ketra showroom. Much to our delight Lutron announced the requirements and following the steps to formalize the certification was an easy decision (and a pile of paperwork). We are proud the be the first Ketra Showroom on the east coast and are currently scheduling tours! If you would like to stay updated, please reach out to our Architect Specialist, Mike Dye.

Did you reach out to Mike yet? Great, so we can move forward with shamelessly plugging our featured articles from 2019. Our CEO Chris gave some great insight last year regarding our work, the Cloud9 Smart process, and answering interesting questions he stumbled upon. In the article “Being A Pro“ for Connected Design, Chris explored the question: “What qualities would someone have to have for you to consider them a professional, or pro, in our industry?”. We also recommend our feature with Brick & Wonder “From the AV Consultant: Seeing abundance where others see scarcity,” where Chris shares some of his professional and personal practices around sharing and creating community. We hope you appreciate appreciate his approach of creating real face-to-face relationships in the age of social media. Head back to Connected Design to get a better sense of our design process from our Senior Systems Engineer, Bruce Reed. Then Mike Dye, remember that guy from the last paragraph? He was featured in Residential Tech Today with “Smart Home Design: Where to Start and How to Do It Well,” discussing how we educate about, and execute, various technologies to achieve a beautiful, functional, and durable design. You now have several good reads in the queue!

In case you missed our celebratory posts on social media last year, we ranked #47 in the 2019 CEPro Top 100. While only one of many accomplishments it put a smile on our faces and pushed us to work even harder.

We also hosted two AIA Summits including the Lighting Summit at the Savant Experience Center and the SARA NY & Cloud9 Smart Summit at the Lutron Experience Center. Each event allowed us to present architects and design professionals with AIA learning units, new information on smart technology, how to incorporate smart technology in their designs, and resources to connect with an appropriate integrator. These summits provided our team with new contacts, introductions to new friends, and reunited us with old friends. In our third year of providing this free service to the design community, we realize we have a knack for it!

The Cloud9 Smart team knows how to party and you should join us! To show how much we care about our team, we plan fun outings and parties where we can celebrate our success and enjoy each other’s company. Last year we created many great memories including our paintball outing, where we had a fun day out on the field while strategically plotting to take each other down and brag about it later. We cheered to many company accomplishments at our happy hours, and we partied it up on a boat for our summer outing where we sailed the Hudson. The team never turns down an afterparty so when the boat docked the next stop was a reserved bar to honor and send-off our outgoing Marketing Director by eating a massive cake with a picture of his face as the top layer. Our holiday parties are always remembered, and you know it’s going to be a great time when your CEO pulls out a Christmas onesie. Our annual game of white elephant did not disappoint and the gifts varied from an inflatable hug (you read right!) to an amazing ramen noodle soup t-shirt.

It’s not an easy task to fit our 2019 into one blog, but we wanted to take the time to share some of our greatest moments. We all genuinely care about what we do, who we do it for, who we do it with, and we work hard! It feels to great to look back at the past year, knowing our team made it all happen. We hope you continue following us in our journey and keep an eye out for upcoming blogs, newsletters, events, and more.

Check out the links below for more photos from 2019!

Review: Extron Room Scheduling 

There are many scheduling methods and software options, but the trick is finding the one that works best for your office. Calendars are great, but when you have multiple daily meetings and few conference rooms there are bound to be conflicts.

Extron has created a room scheduling system that is user-friendly, easy to implement, and will have a positive impact on your office productivity. Honestly, we are tough critics, and in our opinion this system gets the job done. Here is what we’ve learned since installing our Extron Room Scheduler.

Traditional vs. Extron Room Scheduler

Traditional room scheduling is like that headache you continue to deal with and never resolve. Manually scheduling multiple meetings in various rooms through calendar services or with a dedicated body can leave too much room for error. We like to find tools that make our lives a bit easier and Extron’s easily accessible interface does the trick. The room scheduling software becomes another spinning gear in your busy office. Your teams’ time is important and could be utilized on bigger projects, so we see this tool as an investment.

User Experience

On the Extron Room Scheduler, the TouchLink Scheduling panels are vibrant, the text is large and legible even at a distance. Users can choose the various times displayed on the screen, and if available, can proceed to reserve. Red and green lights are also utilized to determine what is occupied or available. Panels come in black or white, in various sizes and mounting options. It will take up some room on a wall, but it is not bulky enough to be an eyesore.

Extron’s TouchLink Scheduling panels are customized with Room Agent software, which connects to major calendar services such as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google Calendar, 25Live, and EMS. Plus, there are no additional subscription or maintenance fees. Once the room scheduling software is connected to your calendar server and admin computer, customize the user interface to your liking. After verifying your connection your office will be able to schedule rooms on the TouchLink panels, computer, tablet or phone.

Productivity

The Extron Room Scheduler allows you to tap on that available time slot, book your meeting on the panel and directly in your calendar. We tend to schedule many last-minute meetings, so we found it easy to place the panels right next to the meeting areas. This allows for easier access to walk up, book, or extend a meeting.

An optional feature is the room occupancy monitoring. Sensors detect when a room is no longer being occupied and the amount of time it is usually occupied for. This allows the software to release the empty room changing the status to available. It is a feature we opted out of, but a handy tool to have available.

Implementing the Extron Room Scheduler was a simple decision for us. Without a set room scheduling method in place various employees manually created meetings through our calendar service, which led to various conflicts. For a team that is constantly transitioning through meetings, scheduling errors can cause tension and put a dent in someone’s busy day. With the Extron Room Agent software our team can work confidently knowing their appointment is booked on the panel and this information is easily visible to the whole office.

Installing & Programming Extron

We sat down with our IT Manager, Ruddy Melendez, to discuss the Extron Room Agent software and the issues we ran into. He explained the system needs to be connected to a server, which means an IP address has to be entered allowing other devices to communicate and allowing the device to reach the internet. The Room Agent software must be downloaded to your PC, which will then display the Extron TouchLink panels available within your office.

Once installed, the simple part of the process is adjusting display features, settings, and preferences within your panels. For example, creating a name for the scheduler, placing your logo, and adjusting reservation preferences. The difficult part is establishing connection to your calendar service that may not easily integrate with the product. Ruddy assures us the issues our team previously encountered with the poor connection was not necessarily due to a bad quality product, but with our calendar service. It seems that Office 365 requires extra steps to integrate with the Extron software. He explains, “Setting it up is easy. It’s the troubleshooting with the calendar and getting it to sync that took our IT team a little longer to figure out.”

What we noticed:

  • Connection to the calendar service. TouchLink panels should sync with your calendar, so make sure to periodically check the connection.
  • Display settings. The display should show a designated meeting title and the name of the meeting organizer. We have noticed our panels display the organizer’s name twice; as the title of the meeting and as the organizer, which can easily be fixed by rebooting the system.

With a few adjustments our team successfully completed the installation, but we wouldn’t call this process simple. Someone with little knowledge of networks will not be able to program the scheduler on their own. We suggest having your IT department step in or bring in an integrator to make sure the system will run with as few issues as possible.

If you would like to chat about Extron Room Scheduling contact us.

Being A Pro

Our COO Chris Smith explores the question “What qualities would someone have to have for you to consider them a professional, or pro, in our industry?” Read now on Connected Design.