Last year we made a number of investments that paid off: Several all-star hires, a learning curve with the AngularJS framework (for non-techies out there, Angular is Google’s web application framework for data-heavy websites -- a true gift to our beleaguered developers), and even a new a plant for the office (it’s science!). But one of our most valuable investments might surprise you: Chromecast.
Chromecast is a little dongle that attaches to any TV and hooks up to the local wifi network, allowing anyone else on the network to display his or her computer screen on the TV screen with a single click in the Chrome browser. While it may not sound that special – after all there are a variety of other products out there that seem to do the same thing (Apple TV, Roku and others, I’m sure) – it is worth a look. What sets Chromecast apart is its simplicity -- anyone can set it up and troubleshoot it when it conks out. From opening the box to your first “cast” is about four minutes.
Because collaboration is the lifeblood of sustained innovation, organizations and teams of all shapes and sizes are adopting visual sharing tools. Chromecast allows any team member to immediately troubleshoot a problem, showcase an accomplishment or to a work in progress. The connectivity can be established in about 2 seconds. At Quovo, you won’t see two people crowded around a single monitor, whispering about how to fix a bug; instead, you’ll see a group of 2, 3, 6, or 10 people looking at a single large screen while one person “casts” their issue and looks for creative solutions from the group.
Our Chromecast has paid for itself 100 times over because it’s allowed us to truly change the way that problems are solved within our teams. Without a simple, cost-effective solution, true team-based product development and daily collaboration is just an abstract concept or an order from on high -- much easier to dictate in theory than to implement in practice. We’ve given our team a tool to put these concepts into practice, and the results have been spectacular.
If we’re designing a new feature, and a button placement doesn’t feel right, we “cast it” up on the screen, get three different opinions, then take it down and work on it some more -- armed with new inspiration. The whole process takes 30 seconds.
If we’re reviewing portfolio data, and we see some trades that look out of place, we “cast it”, come up with several scenarios that would yield that kind of data, then take it down, now armed with smart answers to their questions. No muss, no fuss.
Find a bug that can’t be properly traced? Cast it. Build a feature so awesome that your mother might put it up on the fridge? Cast it.
Every team works differently, so maybe Chromecast isn’t the magic solution to your particular business problems and roadblocks. But if you value transparency, iteration and collaboration, give it a try.
If you are using other collaboration tools, I’d love to hear about them. Post your comments below and I will reply on the discussion thread.
Lowell Putnam is co-founder and CEO of Quovo, Inc., a data science platform optimized to extract, manage, and analyze financial portfolio data.