Just walking round the latest meeting room technology trade show I was delighted to see so many great and new technologies either available or coming on to the market. As a technology enthusiast who has made a living from learning about business technology, these shows are fascinating. But to my clients who are looking to invest in meeting room technology, the prospect can be pretty daunting: no sooner have you chosen the right technology for your business, a new and better product comes to market that can do the task quicker or cheaper. I can’t say I blame them when they ask me, is it worth investing in meeting room technology at all?
Of course to me, the short the answer is yes. But the reality is that which technology is worth investing in is really very bespoke to your own business. So here are my 5 checks to make sure that if you are thinking about investing in meeting room technology, your purchases are indeed a good investment.
Investing in Meeting Room Technology: Check 1
Technology Needs Analysis:
This is about identifying the problems or areas for improvement and then finding the solution from there. Many times an enthusiastic IT director has purchased a “great piece of technology” for his business only to find that it doesn’t get used as people don’t really need it. Interactive displays are a great example of this. People see how they are used and are impressed with the high quality touch screen displays that respond to intuitive hand gestures. But often many of the incredible features that they are paying a premium for are just not used or needed. In these circumstances sometimes a simple interactive whiteboard like a SMART kapp or SMART kapp iQ will do everything they need with a much smaller price tag. Investing in meeting room technology does not have to mean always buying the top of the range – understand your technology needs before you make a purchase for a sound investment.
Investing in Meeting Room Technology: Check 2
Another reason technology sits unused rendering it a wasted investment is that people simply don’t know how to use it. Often technology that is deemed ‘easy-to-use’ may still not get used because people feel intimidated by the unfamiliar. Make sure you choose a technology supplier who offers initial training on how to use the product(s) and on-going support where necessary.
Try appointing a technology ‘champion’ who can support new users or make it part of the new starters induction programme. People should be as comfortable using the company technology as they are finding the coffee machine.
Investing in Meeting Room Technology: Check 3
The most straightforward way to decide if it is worth investing in meeting room technology is to calculate the return on investment. Technology that helps you to collaborate with people in different cities, counties, countries or continents, as if you are there in person, is easy to measure. For example, we had a client who every Monday had to fly to Glasgow from London for a meeting with colleagues. The cost of this meeting was thus: rail fare + air fare + taxi + expenses + occasional hotel. But of course there was also the hidden cost of time lost whilst in transit and unable to work. When we introduced them to a SMART interactive flat panel with Bridgit technology and Meeting Pro they realised they could have the same level of collaboration from their respective offices in London and Glasgow, as they could face to face. Better still, the cost of this technology versus the cost of travel meant that they covered the full cost of the technology in less than a year, without even taking into account the money saved in work hours wasted on the journey. As an added benefit, our client was delighted as his work/life balance and wellbeing improved by eliminating the stressful weekly commute. And the rest of the organisation also found they could benefit from the interactive flat panel when it wasn’t being used on a Monday.
Investing in Meeting Room Technology: Check 4
In many cases employees have better technology than their employers, so for some businesses a Bring Your Own Device policy is a good option. If you are saving money on the basics like phones and laptops then you may have further budget for the bigger purchases like flat screen displays, video walls or interactive displays. But do consider how you deal with different devices requiring different wires and connections when it comes to charging or connecting to a main screen in a meeting.
One solution is Clickshare, which is essentially a button that you plug into the USB or download from the app store that allows you to share your screen with colleagues with just one ‘click’. It means meetings can start promptly without everyone fiddling with wires to connect and reconnect their screens, and it doesn’t matter what device you are using – you can all be a part of the meeting.
Investing in Meeting Room Technology: Check 5
Some kinds of technology simply won’t go out of date as it updates automatically. I’m talking of course about Cloud based technology. Products like the cloud-based video conferencing technology StarLeaf, have no hard components so when things need updating, everything happens automatically in the cloud – you don’t need to do anything.
So is it worth investing in meeting room technology? One thing we can’t promise is that a new and updated version of your chosen product won’t be released next month or next year. But if you follow these steps, you will ensure that the technology you invest in today, still has value for the people that use it tomorrow. Don’t invest in anything and everything … understand the needs of your business, the needs of your people and ensure you have the training and support in place to get the most out of your investment. If your FD or MD is still sceptical think about how you can demonstrate the ROI, or better still, speak to a consultant who can help you. At TecInteractive we offer impartial advice, training and support on a variety of meeting room technology solutions so why not give us a call and we will be happy to help.
Featured image reference: insurance2me.info