Book Smart: how one of Italy’s biggest book distributors got Neat with video

Andy Stone, Sep 20, 2022

Emmelibri

  • Locations: Milan, Italy
  • Sector: Publishing distribution and logistics
  • Website: emmelibri.it

Luca Paleari, Chief Information Officer at Emmelibri, estimates that nearly half the books on sale in Italy at any given time will have passed through his company’s warehouses and logistics network. Emmelibri coordinates all the distribution, commercial and support services for Messaggerie Italiane, the Italian publishing giant which dates back to 1914. Emmelibri’s sister company, Gruppo editoriale Mauri Spagnol, publishes international bestsellers by the likes of Lee Child, Jonathan Safran Foer and Marie Kondo – and prides itself on introducing Harry Potter to Italy. Mr. Paleari tells us more…

Luca Paleari, CIO, Emmelibri

What does your department do at Emmelibri?

Emmelibri has two main roles. The first is to support the staff function for Messaggerie Italiane: IT, accounting, purchasing, HR and so on. The second area coordinates all distribution and commercial activities for the numerous companies in the group. As an IT department, we take care of the infrastructure for the group nationwide. We look after the data centers, the connectivity, the communication, the end users. We also manage the applications side, such as SAP, the websites, the warehouse management systems, all that kind of stuff.

How long have you been using video conferencing?

We’ve been actively using video conferencing for over 10 years. It was prompted by some very senior people in the business wanting to relocate from Milan to Rome. We initially worked with a number of different platforms and devices but for cost and simplicity we shifted to Zoom in 2016. By the time the pandemic came along, we were already working well with Zoom. 

Neat Board in Emmelibri board room

With the old way of doing things, the cleaning people may have accidentally switched something off, then suddenly people are screaming at their assistants to call IT… We love Neat, because it’s power on and it’s going to work, that’s it.

What led you to using Neat devices?

Previously, we would buy mini computers, cameras, speakers, microphones and displays. We were also using iPads as controllers and schedulers. When you work this way, there’s no guarantee all the devices are going to play nicely together. Plus, this method was very expensive, more or less €7,000 per room. With the old way of doing things, the cleaning people may have accidentally switched something off, then suddenly people are screaming at their assistants to call IT. So, we adopted Neat in 2019. We tried and tested other products, but we definitely preferred Neat’s all-in-one designs. We love Neat, because it’s power on and it’s going to work, that’s it.  

Was it love at first unboxing?

Yes, we fell in love with these devices for many reasons. The packaging is one. It’s so easy. You open up the box and you have all the instructions, the QR code, all the screwdrivers. It’s absolutely stunning. We fell in love with this approach, and then of course, with the devices.

Interacting with the Neat Board.

So, can anyone deploy a Neat set up?

We bought two companies during the pandemic and we quickly had to deploy Zoom rooms for them so we could start the integration process. We shipped them Neat Bars and asked the people at the new companies to get them up and running. Neat is particularly well suited for this approach. You can’t deliver a PC, camera and amplifier and ask a business person to set them up.

Many of our people started using Zoom for the first time with Neat. They got familiar with this way of working and they’re happy… So, video and Neat are here to stay.

How did your staff adapt to using video collaboration?

People are beginning to realize that it’s much more engaging having a conversation over video rather than talking on the phone. I discovered this the hard way. I was on a video call to one of our warehouse managers and, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really listening to what he was saying. Suddenly, he says to me, “I’ll call you back another time because I can see you’re not interested!” 

Other than Neat Bars, have you procured any other Neat devices?

Yes, we bought a number of Neat Boards for our warehouses and the users are so happy. The experience of working standing up while also being able to move the board around, is great. We also sent a Neat Frame to my colleague in Rome. He’s happy because the device has a small footprint on his desk, plus the quality of the camera and audio means we can see and hear him perfectly.

Luca’s colleague enjoying a video meeting on his Neat Frame.

Will Emmelibri be sticking with hybrid working and video collaboration?

Yes, absolutely. Many of our people started using Zoom for the first time with Neat. They got familiar with this way of working and they’re happy. One of our top executives, who was not particularly tech savvy, started using video conferencing. He then lobbied the whole company to use it – and use it with the camera on. So, video and Neat are here to stay.

emmelibri.it


Neat Board, Neat Bar Pro, Neat Bar, Neat Pad and Neat Frame.

Emmelibri are currently utilizing Neat Bar, Neat Pad, Neat Board and Neat Frame with Zoom.

Visit neat.no/devices to find out more.

Credit: Photography by Alessandro Della Savia.