Northrim Bank (NASDAQ: NRIM) is the only publicly-traded, publicly-held company based in the state of Alaska. Founded in 1990, Northrim has matured from a small community bank with 21 employees, one branch, and $8 million in assets to an engaged community leader with over 450 employees, $2.5 billion in assets, branches from Nome to Ketchikan, and mortgage lending offices across the nation. Northrim Bank’s growth has not come without its obstacles, though.
“There are a lot of challenges providing banking services to the largest state in the Union,” said Ben Craig, executive vice president, and chief information officer for Northrim Bank. “Northrim Bank has customers who live off the road system, branches that can only be serviced by air, water, or sled, and branches stretched across geography twice the size of Texas. In 2014, Northrim Bank deployed Cisco secure video conferencing to every branch and remote employee to better connect employees and customers. As with most pre-pandemic video conferencing solutions, initial organizational adoption was slow. Desktop video phones and video monitors were easy enough to use. Still, only the most tech-savvy employees opted to leverage video conference rooms because they were too intimidating and complicated.”
Craig added, “We integrated Cisco WebEx SX80 Room Codecs to enable collaboration between in-person and remote meeting participants. Unfortunately, there was not a simple mechanism to power the displays, manage inputs and connect peripherals – these required an additional piece of technology. The team attempted to simplify video conference rooms by deploying home-grown solutions to automate larger rooms and ad-hoc third-party remotes in smaller huddle rooms. However, the integration tools created an overwhelming and intimidating user experience creating a large barrier to adoption.”
At this point, Northrim Bank discovered Lightware’s MMX HDMI Matrix Switchers, a standalone solution offering uncompromised 4K30FPS signal management through HDMI 1.4 connectivity. Boasting zero latency for critical operations, the extensive selection of available variants, compatibility, and connectivity features made Lightware’s MMX Series a perfect fit for AV operations. Thus, Lightware’s MMX Series expanded the capabilities of Northrim’s investment, transforming each meeting room into a powerful, yet easy-to-use tool for all employees.
“Lightware’s game-changing technology removed users’ real and perceived barriers to adoption by delivering intuitive and colorful graphical user interfaces to control the room’s projector
screen, TVs, power, volume, mics, input sources, and display and projector outputs,” explained Craig. “Once users enter the room, they are immediately greeted with intuitive instructions prompting them to wake the system using the touchscreen, their displays and peripherals are powered on and changed to their correct default inputs, and their speakers and microphones are adjusted to preset volumes.”
Lightware has simplified expanding, extending, and controlling Cisco WebEx teleconferencing by providing a pre-configured appliance. With Lightware’s MMX Series, users can expand the number of inputs and outputs of their Cisco system, extend the connectivity over longer distances, and empower the user to natively control the entire solution via the Cisco WebEx Room Navigator.
“Historically, other vendors offered complex solutions that required extensive training, certification, and maintenance,” noted Craig. “These legacy solutions were unnecessarily complicated to install, maintain, and utilize; moreover, their technology is proprietary and not intuitive in the slightest. With Lightware, Northrim Bank designed an intuitive touchscreen interface between the Cisco WebEx SX80 Room Codec and the Lightware MMX Series in an afternoon without additional training. It just worked – right out of the box. There was no need for consulting or technical support. Most importantly, the user experience proved to be paramount.”
Craig added, “Our goal was to create a solution that anyone can use. It had to be easy enough for someone to walk into the room and intuitively start a meeting, make a call, join a call, or simply utilize the space without having to be formally trained or have an operating manual. Now that Lightware is fully integrated with our Cisco meeting rooms, Northrim Bank has a reliable and stable solution. Users can enter the room without being overwhelmed by the technology. It provides them with a consumer technology experience and is as simple as using an iPhone or an iPad.”
Lightware’s MMX Series allowed Northrim Bank to substantially reduce costs while simultaneously unlocking the full potential of their video conference rooms. Lightware’s integration with Cisco enables nearly unlimited capabilities for meeting room control.
“Once the pandemic hit, Northrim Bank was already fully leveraging secure HD video conferencing across its 24 locations to maintain communication and collaboration when it was most needed,” said Craig. “Northrim Bank’s Network & Systems Infrastructure team was able to migrate nearly 90% of their 400 on-premise users to work from home in less than two weeks while maintaining critical video communications across the enterprise.”
Craig added, “Lightware’s technology proved so stable, easy, and useful that Northrim Bank’s network and VoIP engineers could pivot from technical support to help underwrite and process more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the state of Alaska than any other financial institution making a huge difference in the communities they serve. As a result, Northrim Bank
doubled in size by earning the trust of thousands of new customers across the state. Northrim Bank maintains a hybrid workforce model by supporting on-premise and distributed workers with its video conferencing infrastructure. Lightware technology can be found in every video conference room, which rarely enters its power-save mode throughout the day owing to its popularity and ease of use. In short, Lightware demystified our meeting rooms and made them more useful than we could have imagined.”
As a Cisco Solutions Plus partner, Lightware can provide a flexible, consistent, seamless user experience across room types. Lightware and Cisco have created configured packages designed for small to large meeting spaces. Lightware bundles seamlessly integrate with Cisco Webex and can be easily configured utilizing the Room Configuration Wizard. The plug-and-play system has all the necessary components to get the system up and running in no time.