HRTech Interview with Blaine Brown, Director of Machine Intelligence Innovation at Diversified

Discover how generative AI, XR, and spatial computing are shaping industries within Diversified's focus areas, driving meaningful change in productivity and collaboration.


Greetings, Blaine. Could you kindly share a brief overview of your professional journey leading to your current role as Director of Machine Intelligence Innovation at Diversified?
a. I’ve always had a passion for technology and media my entire life. I studied broadcast engineering in college, had a minor in marketing, and worked in IT as an on-campus job in the late ‘90s when these things were all very separate. It served me well as they began to merge years later. My brain is equal parts technical engineering and creative artistic, and I’ve always been fascinated with the latest technology trends and have a natural acumen to understand highly complex technologies while being able to distill them down and communicate them effectively. I got my start in the audio-visual industry about 25 years ago. I worked my way from technical support to design engineer, director of engineering, and CTO of a company that my current company acquired. Over the last two years, I started going deep into the AI rabbit hole when I saw the promise of what generative images could do with-in MidJourney and Stable Diffusion in 2022. I was also fascinated with what large language models (LLMs) were capable of. I spent much of my free time testing different AI technologies and learning to run open-source models locally. We saw the potential impact machine intelligence could have on our and our customers’ organizations about a year ago. We decided to dedicate resources to this effort within our innovation team.

How do generative AI, XR, spatial computing, and related technologies contribute to shaping industries within Diversified’s focus areas?
a. The core of what we do at Diversified starts with our vision of a world without boundaries, where the physical and digital converge to connect us to new possibilities. We exist to make this vision a reality for our clients, helping them choose and deploy the right solutions that match their technology requirements to real-world outcomes. AI, XR, and spatial computing are natural extensions of this.
b. AI can be leveraged in so many powerful ways that transform how people work, and how effective and efficient they are. Most importantly, it can elevate the user experience so they can focus on what they need to accomplish rather than the technologies used to connect them. Be it intelligent cameras that no longer need manual control, intelligent audio that provides acoustical fencing and non-voice sound elimination, or AI virtual assistants that take notes, summarize meetings, and create follow-up action items.
c. Spatial computing is finally reaching a point where people can effectively work and collaborate within it from anywhere. Whether it is a small home office, hotel, or airplane seat, you can be transported to a scenic, tranquil landscape view with as many virtual monitors as you want while collaborating with others.

In navigating evolving technologies like XR and generative AI, could you share the strategies that have proven effective for staying ahead and fostering innovation within your team?
a. Innovation cannot be done in a silo. You could have the most advanced technology on the planet, but if it isn’t solving a problem or creating value, its worthless. Our innovation team is constantly testing new ways to leverage this technology, but we are also meeting with key stakeholders, both within our company at our clients, to ideate where they think the most value is. We have an entire process built about this engagement that helps us navigate and prioritize where we want to invest and build.

Given your diverse tech experience, would you kindly offer advice to professionals navigating XR, generative AI, and related fields?
a. Having a passion for this technology is critical. The acceleration that is happening is unprecedented. This means you need to immerse yourself in it and love it, to stay on top of it. Communities are also key. Find communities of others who share a passion for this, contribute, and collaborate.

Could you elaborate on how XR, VR, and spatial computing influence the future of work, especially considering Diversified’s contributions to remote and hybrid work technologies?
a. Spatial computing is another mechanism for people to collaborate. As devices get more accessible, it is going to be game-changing in the way they will empower and immerse remote workers. Also, all the major video collaboration platforms (Teams, Zoom, and Webex) had a native Apple Vision Pro spatial app in the App Store on day one. At Diversified, we are not only a technology integrator but also a solutions provider. That means we are here to help our clients understand how to get the most out of this technology and help make sure it continues to function properly, answer questions along the way, and monitor and fix it when there are issues.

Can you provide insights into how Diversified approaches the integration of cloud and managed services into XR and generative AI solutions?
a. Diversified’s PULSE is a robust, proactive monitoring service that provides real-time performance dashboards of a client’s entire technology estate, offers critical insights, and conducts self-healing and remote expert support. This service combines best-in-class platforms, custom API integrations into on-prem and cloud solutions, and an expert global service desk. XR and spatial computing are technologies and devices that also benefit from this level of support.
b. AI and machine intelligence take proactive monitoring services to the next level. Monitoring and management platforms already capture vast amounts of device telemetry and performance data. Layering on natural language AI gives both internal resources and clients easy natural access to this performance data, providing insights and trends that help drive more intelligent decisions.

Considering ProAV technologies, what challenges and opportunities do you see in integration, and how does it align with the broader tech landscape at Diversified?
a. One of the bigger opportunities with AI in ProAV is the ability to empower resources with domain-specific knowledge. Examples would be creating a chatbot with subject matter expertise trained on all your support desk knowledge bases. Or training a model on all Microsoft Teams Room knowledge, including provisioning, hardware-specific knowledge, and release notes. This could be the first line of interaction for a field support resource trying to resolve a Teams Room issue.
b. Integration of AI into ProAV also has its challenges. It will be important to train models on domain-specific knowledge to prevent or eliminate AI hallucinations. From a security standpoint, there are challenges in getting some clients to embrace various forms of AI, whether it be concerns about data security or the fact that some AI solutions require users to enroll in voice or facial recognition platforms. We view this as an opportunity for us to provide additional value by educating our clients on what the risks truly are and helping them understand how these technologies can be secured so they can benefit from the immense efficiencies inherent in leveraging these solutions.

Looking ahead to trends in XR and VR adoption, how is Diversified positioned to leverage these shifts?
a. Innovation is in Diversified’s DNA. We have specialty divisions that have been working in immersive and experiential spaces for decades, including developing the highly specialized creative content that drives these experiences. XR/VR/spatial is just an extension of this. And it’s an area that we delivered on many times over the years. This includes working with BioMed companies that wanted to use Microsoft’s HoloLens to train surgeons on new surgery techniques, or insurance companies that want to immerse their call center agents in a virtual training experience to help them be more empathetic on the phone by immersing them in a VR simulation of a customer making a call after an accident. Leading with innovation means having dedicated resources and processes to stay in front of these trends while looking for new ways to leverage these technologies to provide value and ultimately improve user experience.

How does Diversified actively contribute to enhancing remote work experiences, and could you share any innovations we can expect in this space?
a. The remote work experience can only be truly improved by looking at the entire experience, remote and in-office. Many companies have moved to a flexible work model, and data tells us that 98% of in-office meetings now have at least one remote participant. Also, many remote workers will tell you that their biggest challenge or sub-par user experience is when they connect to an in-person room with other people. This is where AI-enhanced rooms are changing the game. Intelligent cameras can crop properly and multi-window stream users who are talking, not based on a present, but on facial position tracking. Intelligent audio can now enroll users’ voices to show remote users the name of who is speaking and also attribute the proper in-room attendees to the transcripts that the AI assistants use for meeting summaries and action items. These technologies combine to improve the experience of in-person and remote working.

Would you kindly share any key takeaways you might have regarding the intersection of generative AI, XR, spatial computing, and broader technologies at Diversified?
a. Generative AI and spatial computing are revolutionary paradigm shifts disrupting traditional ways companies do business. There is so much potential across the board to improve user performance, experience, and satisfaction. So much good can come from more intelligent systems and environments that positively impact everything from sustainability to user experience, performance, and satisfaction. Diversified embraces these challenges and is passionate about responsibly guiding our clients through these journeys.

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Blaine Brown Director of Machine Intelligence Innovation at Diversified

Blaine Brown is a technology thought leader with over two decades of experience. He currently serves as Diversified's Director of Machine Intelligence Innovation, providing strategic guidance and leadership in various technologies, including Generative AI, Cloud, Media, IT, UC, Immersive, Experiential, AR/VR/Meta, and Intelligent Workplace technologies. Having held distinguished roles, such as Director of Innovation and Chief Technology Officer, Blaine boasts an exceptional track record in leveraging his technical expertise and enthusiasm for emerging trends to deliver outstanding business results. His acumen for leadership, identifying complex challenges, and crafting effective solutions and teams has cemented his status as a respected, innovative technology leader.