Meetings are a regular part of the office life. Already perceived to be gruesome and laborious, meetings can add further rage and frustration if things go horribly wrong in the meeting room -- for example finding projectors that don’t work or not knowing which cord goes to which device. As such, companies again turn to smart office solutions that enhance the meeting experience.
Needless to say, ease of use is of paramount importance in the design of an integrated meeting room solution. Increasingly, vendors offer one-button controls that manage all equipment or devices in the meeting room. “People hate to use different switches to turn on different devices. Also they are not happy with lot’s a cables for PC connecting or other devices. We set up three to four scenes for the meeting room, depending on the type of meeting. For example, for official meeting it requires better lighting effects so we make meeting scene for it. For none-official meeting we also add RGB lighting effects into the scene,” said Jack He, International Marketing Director at HDL. “The most important thing is that anyone, it doesn’t matter if you know smart technology or not, will simply choose the scene by pressing one button. That’s all he needs to do. Either press on only one physical button on a wall panel, or to use app in cell phone, then the meeting scene will come up automatically.”
“Our system allows users to control or create preset scene mode such as presentation mode via the physical push button switches, touch screen panel or mobile devices. A preset scene mode will save the user time with just the push of a button – the lights can be dimmed and projection screen can be automatically lowered. Audio system can also be integrated and controlled via the touch screen panel/ mobile device,” John Tan, Key Account Manager at ABB.
Collaboration is key
More and more, meetings are joined by members from multiple sites. The sharing of contents among meeting participants has therefore become more important. “Millennials’ expectations as they enter the workforce are having an impact on meeting spaces and technologies. They often expect a warmer office space with huddle spaces and ways to collaborate with their colleagues and superiors, and they also have expectations for the devices that they use. This is causing a shift, where traditional conference phones are going to phase out, in favor of more collaborative systems that include video conferencing and easily allow for BYOD connections,” said Glenn Jystad, Director of Product Marketing at InFocus.
InFocus’ solution to this trend is their interactive whiteboard with built-in video conferencing capabilities. “Instead of needing to set up a conferencing and audio system and also a projection system that can’t be shared with those outside the room, digital whiteboards that combine video conferencing and sharing capabilities provide a single piece of hardware to install that can be effective for meetings contained in the room or shared with outside parties,” Jystad said. “This type of device can save businesses space, money on installation, maintenance, and aggravation that comes when combining several disparate technologies to achieve one result.”
Another interesting aspect to look at is the meeting room furniture which can be attached with sensors and robotics. “In a conference room, more often than not the chairs are not going to get pushed back in. So that either requires the company to hire someone to do this or have a messy conference room when clients, bosses and employees come in. Neither of those are very attractive scenarios,” said Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI. “But to have office chairs be able to put themselves back where they’re supposed to be, that’s one scenario that could be interesting.”
When looking for a meeting room solution, the end user needs to take their own needs and objectives into consideration. “Each conference space is customized for the needs of the users, to serve a primary function for them and provide flexibility where needed. Some offices may focus on the video conferencing system itself, and others may want to add more of the energy management component, or fixate on audio quality. There is no exact template for systems, aside from the end results of improved functionality and other benefits associated with it,” said Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green.