How to make BYOD for collaboration work in the meeting room

Technology is changing the face of the business environment – and the pace of this change is only increasing. While initially we adopted technology to make our lives easier, often at times it’s not always the case.

Consider that the increased use of tablets and mobile devices makes it easier for us to work on the move, be it during our commute or while travelling, and allows us to do more, be in touch with a mobile workforce and be more efficient.

But when it comes to taking those devices into a meeting room with the intention of sharing content, ideas, or presentations, we often encounter a few hiccups. It’s not always smooth sailing in the meeting room, which is often blamed on aging presentation technology and ineffective cables or compatibility issues.

And seeing that the meeting room often facilitates one of the most important aspects of modern business – collaboration – having a space where the technology does, in fact, make life easier is crucial.

> See also: What’s next for collaboration in the enterprise?

This is especially true in the time-sensitive world we’re living in. We simply can’t afford a delay or false start. In recent research conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Barco, it was found that 90% of office workers in the UK experience technology-related stress. So just what needs to be done to make sure that organisations are maximising the opportunities that technology can deliver?

Technology aids collaboration

The benefits of collaboration are well known – cost-effective use of time and resources, knowledge sharing across the organisation, enhanced responsiveness, innovation and problem solving.

It can even assist organisations in retaining a happy workforce. However, it is more than just working together and finding new ways to do this. As with all other areas of modern businesses, technology, and by extension the IT department, has an important role to play in collaboration.

If we consider a traditional meeting-room setup, there tends to be a distinct lack of technological tools that make it easy to share information and boost collaboration among employees.

Ironically, business meeting rooms are too ill-equipped even to deal with the equipment workers use at their desks, let alone when they are out of the office. In today’s business environment, laptops, smartphones and tablets are crucial to productivity, so it’s only logical that the meeting room equipment is advanced enough to be able to be integrated with them.

Collaboration in meeting and training rooms has evolved beyond recognition during the last few years. In the past, perhaps just one person would bring content to present or discuss – either on paper, as a PowerPoint presentation, or in any other carrier – and the others would listen.

That changed with the prolific use of personal and digital devices in the workplace. The challenge now is that every meeting participant wants to bring their own content to the table and share it with the other attendees in a quick and easy way. In other words, meeting room technology needs to be upgraded and brought into to the BYOD era.

Visual collaboration tools

The need for multiple people to share a presentation can be a common occurrence, and one that can become seriously time-consuming, especially when each presenter has to plug their laptop into the projector, and give out their own hand-outs, etc.

The ability for multiple participants to be able to display their screen on a shared monitor quickly and easily should be a staple of meeting rooms within businesses that wish to promote collaboration and productivity.

Ideally, the technology in the meeting room has to be as user-friendly as possible – effectively plug and play. The screen would be available to all meeting participants, either through USB, app or Wi-Fi, and a number of people could share the screen at the same time, showing different information or comparing data.

It should also be easy to share screens, perhaps by clicking a button, so that the flow of the meeting isn’t interrupted and time isn’t wasted.

Without bridging technology in place, connecting a device to a shared screen typically means a tangle of cables and having to regularly reconfigure screen settings. This can result in distorted content due to incompatible settings or resolutions.

When multiple people want to put content on a shared screen, the problem is compounded. Wireless collaboration solutions will bring all of the devices together regardless of the operating system.

Sharing knowledge

For many companies, knowledge is their most important asset. And in order to nurture this knowledge, the right tools have to be in place to share it. One of the latest trends is the introduction of interactive collaboration platforms that can allow companies to share their knowledge in the simplest and smartest way possible.

> See also: So you want flexible workers – but do you have the right collaboration strategy?

This type of collaboration platform will enable attendees to share documents, images and videos rapidly and from any digital device – laptops, smartphones and tablets, and also document cameras, networked sources and IP cameras.

Some of the networked collaboration solutions developed specifically for meeting and training rooms are composed as modular systems, which means that additional equipment and technology can be added at any time. This level of freedom over what and how to share is a natural step towards making meetings more collaborative and engaging.

Going forward, efficiency and productivity will remain key objectives in business – objectives that technology can help us achieve. Importantly, these tools should enhance sharing, creativity and collaboration – the collective brainpower of attendees is critical, regardless of the size or importance of the meeting or organisation.

Sourced from Jan Willem-Brands, VP Collaboration, Barco

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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