Making collaboration technologies work for your business

Collaboration in the workplace has been defined by the digital generation. A trend sparked by BYOD and workers naturally being more ‘digitally social’ – sharing information has been taken to another level both inside and outside of the working environment.

This is being reflected in many new technologies developed for businesses, the latest solutions are fundamentally designed to allow employees to communicate more effectively - whether it is a revamp of the company’s intranet or introducing the latest HD video conferencing system.

A natural extension of this would be to upgrade and enhance technology in meeting rooms. Out of every space in the workplace, this is the one area that should be the hub of sharing, creativity, and collaboration. Meeting rooms in every type of organisation, from small huddle rooms for start-ups to large boardrooms for global multinationals, provide an environment to capture the collective brainpower, yet all too often there aren’t the right technological tools in place to encourage collaborative behaviour.

Bringing meeting rooms into the present

Traditionally, meeting-room setups tend to have a distinct lack of technological tools that make it easy to share information and ultimately improve productivity from employees. Ironically, business meeting rooms are frequently too ill-equipped even to deal with the equipment workers use at their desks. When laptops, smartphones, and tablets play such a critical role in today’s business environment, it is only logical that the meeting room equipment is advanced enough to be able to be integrated with them.

We have to remember how much behaviour in meeting and training rooms has changed in the last decade. Just one person bringing PowerPoint or paper presentations to meetings and presenting their ideas and findings to the passive participants is now such a rarity in the corporate world. The use of personal and digital devices has paved the way for ‘active’ attendees, keen to bring their own content and view to the table, and share them in a quick and simple way.

Visualisation technology

Visual assistance is a key element in the collaboration process, and there is a growing demand for collaboration technology and content visualisation management to help employees work together easily and naturally. Whatever the scope, purpose or demands of a project, the latest solutions include everything from state-of-the-art projection and easy-to-use collaboration and presentation tools, to tailor-made video walls. The market tends to fall into three key categories: display solutions, collaboration solutions, and content visualisation management.

Wireless collaboration technology

One of the most important solutions in meeting rooms and boardrooms is wireless collaboration technology, which has grown from being a niche, emerging trend to a well-established must-have in a significantly short space of time. That is perhaps not surprising, as without these technological tools if employees want to share content from their PC, Mac, Android, or iOS devices on a meeting room screen, they need to have the right cables and/or adaptors at hand. Even if they do, there is still no guarantee that it will come out at the right resolution, so the text may be unreadable. The wireless collaboration tools ensure that content is displayed correctly and without having to use a physical connection.

The ability for multiple participants to be able to display their screen on a shared monitor, regardless of the operating system, 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.

Wireless collaboration technology and content management tools also need to be suitable for all types of meeting rooms, regardless of the size of the business. If the organisation is a small business or a multinational, the role of the meeting room will still be to improve productivity and collaboration and any technological solutions should be tailored towards the needs of different sectors, for everything from small one to ones to large meetings with multiple participants.

Collaboration is crucial in any business context and the most valuable space to encourage more sharing, creativity and collaborative behaviour is the meeting room. Technology should be a helpful and easy part of this process, not an obstacle that requires a significant amount of time and investment. In every business, when people enter a meeting room for the first time, they should immediately be able to use all of the devices present and display, share, and connect easily. The digital era may have defined collaboration as a concept, however it is the technology we use to encourage it that will truly make it happen.

Jan Willem Brands, VP Collaboration at Barco