☕ Interview: Jyri Marno from Taitotalo
Could you explain your role a bit and what all belongs on your work desk?
I have been working as a system specialist at Taitotalo for twelve years now. In practice, my work desk involves the leasing machine return process from start to finish. Additionally, I am responsible for procurement and AV, which is more commonly known as the projector side. Not to mention IT support tasks.
I handle our AV matters with Pro-Vision in such a way that I am the main contact person and Pro-Vision is our service provider.
What did you do before coming to Taitotalo?
I entered the industry directly from school in 1997. I started at Keskeytysvakuutusosakeyhtiö Otso, from where I moved to Teollisuusvakuutus, then to Sampo Insurance, and finally to If Insurance. I worked at If Insurance from 2004 to 2010 as a long-time employee. There, I got to experience what it was like to be part of an organization with almost ten thousand people.
In the last year, I took a sabbatical leave for a year and thought about what I would like to do next. I felt that I had seen enough of the financial sector, but the IT industry was still interesting to me. So, I ventured into the world of education, and I am still on that path.
What are you most proud of in your current job?
As we have a relatively small team, I have had to make a lot of big decisions independently. I have been able to be self-directed and make decisions on significant matters and have been able to influence them. It can even be said that I have had an emotional connection to this job. I don't think I would have stayed this long if I had only done it for the money. There have been many things that I have enjoyed in this job.
Here, I get to meet nice people every day, such as our partners like Pro-Vision, as well as colleagues. Overall, this is a different journey than my previous experiences in the IT world.
I am probably most proud of being able to continue with the same themes in working at Taitotalo, and I have appreciated that we have had humane values in our work, and everything is not done solely for the sake of money.
What kind of team do you work with?
We have a team of three people plus a team leader in ongoing maintenance tasks. Each of us has our own responsibilities in the overall picture. In addition to my tasks, one person handles phones, and another handles networks. We often have so-called fault service requests where users need help with their computers, phones, and other devices. We always have around 40-50 open fault requests.
Ongoing maintenance tasks are those that never end, as there is always something to maintain, develop, and ensure that all devices are practically ready for use at all times.
What kind of environment do you maintain and serve?
We currently maintain a little over 500 workstations and probably the same number of users. Then we have classroom environments on top of that, about a hundred, all with projectors and other AV equipment.
We have several locations in Helsinki, and there is a workstation in Oulu and a small unit in Tampere. Although people are in different locations, we support them from Helsinki.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our work so that we are no longer constantly in the office. I probably work remotely about 40% of the time weekly. My work has increasingly been offering remote assistance to solve problems.
For example, regarding AV, we do not have as many requests as we did before the pandemic because classrooms were not in such heavy use during that time. But now, since last fall, people have been returning to the office more, even though 30-50% of them are still working remotely.
Currently, purchases occupy me a lot because there have been problems with the availability of goods for a long time, and some purchases have been left pending.
Some basic skills have also become rusty for users who have been away from the office for many years, so there is some re-learning to be done. Sometimes it may feel like we have forgotten the basics of being in a classroom, and now we are returning to them. On the other hand, it's a familiar rollercoaster ride since I've been in the industry for almost twenty-five years. Certain things come back to the desk regularly as time goes by.
Why did EasyTouch come to Taitotalo?
Before 2013, we had remote controls in all classrooms. There were two major problems with them.
Firstly, they were often lost. Often, when the next teacher came to teach in the same classroom, the previous teacher had taken the remote control with them. There was nothing to start the device with, and the projector was mounted so high on the ceiling that even with a chair, we couldn't reach it. We had to keep a large buffer of extra remote controls in the maintenance room. When remote controls were missing, we were often asked to turn on the projectors, which caused a lot of unnecessary running around for everyone involved.
The second major problem was that the remote controls often had too many buttons for users. It often seemed that if the user had accidentally pressed something, they couldn't easily surf back to where they needed to be. For example, the image source may have been accidentally changed. Then we were in a situation where we were informed that "there is no picture in the classroom" or "the source is wrong, and there is no information about what it should be," and since there were only four of us doing this job, it was just too much running around.
We wanted to get rid of these problems, and when we thought about how to do it, one option was to bolt the remote controls directly onto the table. That would have sounded crazy too. Furthermore, those remote controls were also such that they fell to the floor quite often and broke.
So it can be said that there were a lot of problems related to remote controls, and we wanted to move forward somehow.
How did the process proceed from there? What different options did you consider?
If I remember correctly, when we were considering options, there weren't really many reasonable priced ones available, so we started thinking with Pro-Vision about what we could do about it.
Since price was a major factor, we wanted to focus on the essentials. The solution had to be the right size and weight so that it couldn't be easily dropped from the table. In addition, only the buttons needed by the user were to be displayed - and nothing extra.
Furthermore, the controller was to be on a cord, so that it wouldn't be taken away like the remote control.
By brainstorming together, we were able to come up with an interesting overall concept on paper, and since the price was such that we could consider it as a solution that could be rolled out to all classrooms, we decided to proceed.
What was the end user need that this solution addressed?
We have users with different levels of IT skills in our organization. Some people may need to work closely with IT for their job and training, while others just want to turn on and off the presentation equipment easily. Their need was to have the projector display their computer screen with just one cable, adjust the volume easily, and use a blank function.
The basic idea was to make the AV equipment as simple as possible to use. A typical remote control might have 30-40 different buttons, but with EasyTouch, we were able to reduce that number to around 5-10, which is a huge improvement. Additionally, the language was in Finnish, and we provided instructions on the table that supported the use of EasyTouch on the screen, which gave even the most hesitant users the confidence to use it.
What changed specifically when EasyTouch was introduced?
We have had a similar number of classrooms throughout the twelve years that I have been working here. Sometimes we may have had over a hundred rooms, but we have generally maintained a consistent number of around a hundred.
In those hundred rooms, there were probably at least ten incidents per month - that is easily a hundred incidents per year - where we were informed that the remote control's batteries had run out or that the remote control was "broken". Often when we arrived on site, we found that the remote control had fallen on the floor, causing the batteries to fall out, be put back in incorrectly, or simply lost.
At first, there were a few questions from users, but at the same time, the number of support incidents decreased significantly in certain areas. For example, incidents related to lost remote controls practically disappeared overnight.
There was probably a honeymoon period of about a year due to the reasons mentioned above. Once we were able to quickly onboard our entire user base, we noticed that the focus of incidents shifted drastically. Now, we may only receive 2-3 AV-related incidents per month.
How satisfied have you been with EasyTouch?
I definitely wouldn't want to go back to using the remote controls. The time that was previously spent on dealing with lost or broken remote controls can now be used for educating and guiding users, making my work much more meaningful and easier.
My personal favorite is the metal version, which is probably the heaviest version. It's favored in the classroom settings precisely because it's heavy and can be pressed harder without moving on the table.
We also really liked the fact that we could request what we wanted on the screen and where. We were able to customize it to work the best for us, as we had envisioned it beforehand.
Over time, the versions of EasyTouch have also improved. The displays have improved and the usability has improved over the years. We've been satisfied with the fact that it has proven to be a functional solution in our environment, where more than 30,000 students use the facilities each year in Helsinki alone, and where there isn't much space to leave loose equipment lying around.
Compared to remote controls, EasyTouch also has the advantage of automatically shutting down the devices if the space isn't being used. The projector can no longer be left on all weekend, even if a user has left the space so quickly that they forgot to turn off the equipment.
Who do you think could benefit from using EasyTouch?
In my opinion, we are a good example of a use case where users want a simple solution to control a complex environment.
For example, even at home I have a projector in my bedroom and I use a programmable remote control, which I have set up to look the way I want. However, my remote control only has numbers that I need to memorize.
EasyTouch follows the same idea, but the difference is that it tells you what each button does. If an environment requires maximum simplicity to be usable, it is essential that the control is user-friendly. Even though there has been technological advancement, I still think that EasyTouch is among the top solutions when it comes to controlling a projector and presentation technology in the simplest way possible.
What is your opinion on our current cooperation?
Our cooperation with you has been working extremely well. If we see something abroad that could work for us, we immediately start talking and discussing what it could mean for us.
Trust also works both ways. I feel that you keep us constantly in the loop, so if there's something worthwhile around the corner that we don't know about, we would get the information from you and our partners.
With a clear conscience, I can say that we've kept the AV facilities in as good condition as possible, given the budget that's allocated to it. I believe that everything is pretty much top-notch in terms of price and quality. We have Genelec speakers and a projector or display in almost every classroom. The cabling is updated as new technology emerges.
Maintenance is carried out proactively before the equipment breaks down, so every year we conduct a maintenance round with you to check the condition of the facilities. There are around a hundred spaces, not all of which can be updated at the same time. Perhaps twenty percent of the spaces reach the end of their life cycle annually. Some spaces are reserved more frequently than others, so it's important to have ways to prioritize the spaces that have been used more or whose usage purpose changes.
Where do you feel we have particularly succeeded as a partner?
We have been working with Pro-vision for years now and your availability has always been first-class. I have always been able to reach you quickly and efficiently on the phone, and I always get an answer very quickly. If I don't get through to you right away, because you might be on a lunch break or similar, someone from your team always calls me back within half an hour. I usually send you orders or notifications of non-urgent issues by email.
During our more than 10-year partnership, you have always carried out repairs very quickly. For example, if a bulb in a projector goes out, it's often a matter of how quickly we can vacate the classroom or reschedule the lessons. Of course, if the AV equipment in a space cannot be used, it will be freed up quite quickly, because the projector and presentation technology are an important part of usability for the user.
I would say that speed has always been your biggest asset. Trust has also been first-class. When we make an agreement, we don't have to wonder about it afterward because it is done as agreed. We work with many different organizations and individuals on a daily basis, and I can say that Pro-Vision is definitely among the best. It has been seamless and enjoyable to work with you.
If you made it this far, thank you for your time! ☕☕☕
If you are interested in our EasyTouch, you can find more information here.
Do you have any questions? You can directly book a time from the calendar below and we can discuss further in person.