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The Computer History Museum partners with RingCentral to take its communications into the 21st Century

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If you had only a few hours and wanted to learn as much as you could about the evolution of technology and its impact on the world, the place to go is the Computer History Museum (CHM), which today has their virtual doors open to the public.

For four decades, CHM has established itself as a premier institution and trusted source chronicling the history and impact of computing technology on the human experience. 

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, CHM connects the past with the digital present and tells the stories of the people, companies, and technological innovations that transformed our world. The institution is supported by a network of staff, volunteers, trustees, partners, company founders, computing pioneers, and tech visionaries in Silicon Valley and around the world. 

Two years ago CHM built a strategic plan to take the museum beyond its physical doors to a heightened digital presence. The goal was to find new and creative ways to virtually reach existing and new audiences.

CHM finds a true technology partner in RingCentral

Marie Jackson, CHM’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains that a major catalyst for migrating to modern communications tools was the fact that the organization had recently updated its mission.

“For decades, the museum was devoted to preserving and presenting the history and impact of computing around the world. Today we use our incomparable collection, innovative experiences, and dynamic programming to decode technology—what it is, where it came from, and what it means—to empower the next generation of digital citizens to shape a better future.”

But leveraging new technologies to reach more people was only one of several drivers moving CHM toward a modern tech stack.

“We’re here to tell the story of the computing revolution, and to contribute to the ongoing conversation about technology,” says Dave Evans, CHM’s Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Technology. “IT management is not core to our role. So, we needed to entrust this aspect of the institution to the right partners, leaving us more bandwidth to focus on what we do best. RingCentral is one of our key institutional partners.”

Another reason CHM chose RingCentral was to consolidate many of the museum’s existing tools. “Video conferencing, audio conferencing, webinars, and telephony… those might represent three or four different systems, not all of which necessarily work together,” says Evans. “RingCentral will enable us to place all of this functionality into one platform and work with a single strategic partner that knows our organization and understands our needs.

Finding internal and external benefits of unified communications

From an operational standpoint, CHM hopes to find several ways to leverage RingCentral to improve efficiencies and productivity. “RingCentral Rooms appears that it will be a great way to help our staff get more value from the meetings they hold in our conference rooms,” Dave explains. 

“We envision walking into a room, connecting wirelessly to a meeting, and everything just works. We don’t want to waste time at the beginning of every meeting looking for the right cable or dongle.”

In fact, Dave also sees RingCentral Rooms being able to help CHM increase revenue directly. “One way we raise operating capital to fund the institution is by renting out this amazing facility for meetings and conferences,” he says. “To the extent that we add technologies like RingCentral to the venue’s rooms, we can make the venue itself a more attractive rental for businesses and other organizations.”

And as Dave also points out, RingCentral’s video conferencing and webinar capabilities could help CHM greatly expand its renowned library of video-based oral histories of the computing revolution—which has already captured more than 1,000 stories on video from technology experts and pundits. 

“The challenge with these oral histories,” says Dave, “is that in many cases we have to bring most of these people to our facility to record their lectures—or, just as costly and time-consuming, send a whole crew out to their location. With RingCentral, we could capture more great stories through a webinar format, which means we can more quickly and cost-effectively reach these people even if they’re in Asia or Europe or Africa.”

Carrying out an important mission even during the pandemic

As enthusiastic as CHM is about leveraging RingCentral in the years to come, the staff is particularly grateful right now to have found a cloud communications platform that will enable them to work productively from home during the quarantines.

As Dave points out, the timing was fortunate, because the museum was already planning its rollout of RingCentral for telephony, video and audio conferencing, team messaging, file sharing, and other digital communication services.

“Now that we’re all at home under quarantine,” he says, “it is important to be able to hop on a video call, have a face-to-face conversation even with multiple people, and share documents in real-time. In terms of productivity, we really have not missed a beat as an institution since the lockdowns. Had we not had this type of technology in place prior to COVID, we would’ve found it very challenging to continue functioning as well as we have.”

Originally published Sep 10, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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