If you think a well-equipped conference room consists of a “starfish” phone and large monitor, prepare to be impressed by the latest developments aimed at enabling collaborative workspaces for your employees.
Here are nine major trends in conferencing and collaboration technology that have emerged over the last couple of years:
1. Ease of use
Characteristic of new technology is the ability to start a conference by pressing a single button. When an employee schedules a room, collaboration application comes along with it. Once in the room, the employee presses a “Join” button on the conference device to start the conference (audio and video). Remote employees typically experience the same convenience, and in many cases the conferencing system can call them to initiate the meeting.
Likewise, you can configure wireless devices to screen share on the conferencing solution so that projecting content from a laptop or tablet is simple. With proximity detection, the equipment can detect when the wireless device is within range and automatically connect to share content.
2. Plug-and-play installs
Some platforms include hardware with built-in components that essentially make audio and video plug and play. This hardware can be pricey, but often comes as part of the service agreement and this can save time for the team responsible for keeping it running. Third-party hardware vendors are designing their systems for ease of installation, too.
3. Automatic framing
Many of today’s video systems can distinguish human faces and automatically narrow the field of view to show just the people, rather than an entire room. Some solutions automatically zoom and pan to the person who is speaking, then zoom out again when they’re not talking any longer.
4. Better audio
Microphone technology has greatly improved, resulting in higher sound quality. This is important for remote meeting attendees, who with older hardware often can only hear part of a conversation. Some solutions can sense, and automatically mute, sounds such as paper rustling and dogs barking that detract from a meeting.
5. Better experience for remote attendees
Simplified one-button join makes participation easier for remote attendees. Better sound quality ensures that remote participants can hear what’s going on. The ability of the application to place a call and connect the participant means they’re not trying to input complex number sequences in order to attend a meeting. In addition, remote and onsite attendees typically have all the same capabilities, such as the ability to share content.
6. Whiteboard enhancements
Smart whiteboards allow all meeting participants to provide input on a virtual whiteboard, with results saved and shared with others. For physical whiteboards, automatic sharpening of the image means remote attendees are better able to see and understand information presented. Typically, this capability requires devoting a camera to the whiteboard.
7. Reporting and analytics
Since the hardware can identify humans, it can report on the number of people in a room to provide utilization statistics. If a meeting is scheduled for a room but no one shows up, some systems have the ability to make the room available to others, automatically. The usage statistics provide data on the number of attendees, time of day, day of week, and room utilization. This allows organizations to track room usage and determine whether rooms can be deleted, or if they need to add more. The data also shows the size of the meetings, so planners know the size of rooms in greatest demand.
8. Embedded AI capabilities
Some solutions offer the option for creating meeting notes automatically after a meeting is completed. Others offer real-time translation, so that participants can understand each other even if they don’t have a language in common. In addition to distinguishing the presence of a human, some solutions go as far as actually recognizing individuals and providing other participants with attendee information such as name, job title, organizational information, and publicly available information.
9. Huddle room affordability
High-end capabilities traditionally have been limited to larger venues. However, “huddle room” technology, such as lightweight but fully featured video collaboration bars, has had a dramatic decrease in cost and brings many of the capabilities above to smaller rooms.
Conferencing and collaboration technology is changing at a rapid rate, and there is significant potential for increasing productivity through the use of these tools. Does your collaboration technology need an update?