How will meetings be done in the enterprise in the future?

Barco surveyed over 300 senior business managers in EMEA in June this year for its "Meeting room of the future" survey. It was designed to ascertain how changing working practices impact on the technology provision for meeting rooms. We spoke to Barco about some of the key findings.

1) When will meeting rooms become fully digital?

Momentum is growing fast, 59 per cent of those we polled expected the meeting rooms within their organisations to be digitally equipped as standard by the end of next year. Upgrades will be steady, and by the end of 2020, 94 per cent anticipate their meeting rooms will be fully digital.

2) What role are smart devices playing in the workplace?

Although most presentations are still run from computers, mobile devices are likely to become increasingly prevalent within the workplace. 82 per cent of the execs surveyed, use their own devices within the meeting room and while the majority of those are laptops, more than a fifth of respondents (21 per cent) suggested mobile devices are their preferred method of content delivery.

We think this figure is very likely to rise year on year, the analyst house IDC forecast that sales of tablets will overtake laptops and notebooks this year and total PC shipments in 2015. This means it is inevitable that smart devices will make their way into businesses, either provided as PC replacements or through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies. Of course, this means making meeting rooms tablet/smartphone ready will be the next big headache for AV and IT managers.

3) How important is it that organisations develop effective BYOD strategies?

Given the statistics from IDC, it is inevitable that people are going to bring and use their own devices within the workplace regardless of whether or not there is an official BYOD strategy in place. This presents significant challenges for the IT department on a number of levels and those complications even extend to meeting rooms.

We conducted a similar survey with nearly 600 business leaders in North America during the summer and it is clear support for mobile devices in meeting rooms is equally lacking on the other side of the Atlantic. While two thirds of respondents suggested that greater support for BYOD would be useful, only 17 per cent indicated they could actually project content from a smartphone or tablet to a screen, and of that figure, only 10 per cent could do so if they had the appropriate adaptors to hand!

Technical obstacles, which can be as simple as a lack of interconnectivity, stifle collaboration. Without having appropriate solutions in place, the need to manage all those incompatible operating systems and device types can be a major drain on resources. This will become apparent as IT support staff are increasingly called upon to solve these types of issues on a day to day basis.

4) How many businesses are now using multimedia in presentations?

The most prevalent digital content that needs to be supported is presentation software. 92 per cent of execs surveyed indicated they typically use Microsoft PowerPoint, or similar packages, in meeting rooms. However, there is a growing demand to provide support for additional digital media, for example, 59 per cent of organisations now use photos and videos to make meetings more engaging. This means participants often need to access content stored across different devices, such as a photo from a smartphone or a video app on a tablet. The problem here is that having to swap connection cables and/or adaptors each time you wish to switch between devices can be extremely disruptive.

5) Is meeting room efficiency a major concern amongst senior managers?

Improving efficiencies scored most strongly when we questioned respondents on their upgrade objectives. 47 per cent cited "improving meeting dynamics" as a top three goal, this was followed by "improving reliability of technology" and "reducing meeting set-up times", which both featured in 40 per cent of exec's three most pressing priorities.

6) Who are the main decision makers for investing in AV equipment and technology for meeting rooms?

This varies between company to company, however, most commonly the main decision maker is the AV manager. CIOs, IT managers and facilities managers are also regularly cited as having an influence on purchasing decisions and in around seven per cent of cases independent consultants were also used to evaluate requirements and advise on investment.

7) What technology is Barco developing to provide solutions to the above problems?

When looking to support the evolving needs of the meeting room, at Barco we felt there was a clear gap in the market. We wanted to address the challenges inherent in provisioning for multiple device types and a much wider variety of media formats. This would cut down on the time wasted on setting up the meeting room.

An additional objective was to simplify collaborative working to make meetings more efficient and engaging. Therefore we had to come up with a brand new technology for this emerging market segment. The result is a single-click meeting room technology, called ClickShare.

ClickShare allows any number of users to share content from up to four devices on a single screen at any one time, without having to worry about compatibility issues, and all in the correct resolution. The technology works with both PCs and Macs, as well as with smartphones and tablets running on the iOS and Android operating systems.

For more information on ClickShare visit, www.barco.com/clickshare. To view the full results of the Meeting Room of the Future survey go to http://www.barco.com/en/News/Post/2013/7/1/meeting-room-of-the-future-survey-the-results