Why is it that, too often, meeting and conferencing facilities in many corporate spaces leave users extremely frustrated and result in an expensive waste of valuable time?
A survey conducted at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) conference earlier this year shows that 42% of respondents said technical delays are their biggest challenge with meeting room technology, while a survey from Barco shows that 9 in 10 office workers experience elevated stress levels when dealing with troublesome technology during meetings.
With workplace environments constantly evolving – think hot desks, huddle spaces and remote working - the demand for high-quality, well equipped meeting space has become a key priority.
As well as requiring effective audio visual solutions in a single building, many organisations also need to be able to host or attend virtual meetings across multiple locations worldwide through first-rate cloud based services. These requirements apply equally to other organisations such as hospitals, conference venues, educational establishments, sports and leisure facilities and a wealth of other users of AV technology.
The use of multiple sources of data, from PowerPoint slides to more sophisticated data visualisation tools, has led to a demand for hi-tech flat-panel displays or touch screen video walls, with flexible input options, along with a range of tools to help visualise this data in an effective manner.
There are also requirements across organisations for eye-catching and effective digital signage solutions which feature customer-facing promotional material, internal staff communications or real time public area safety and information messages.
The key to getting these facilities right is to ensure that there is an extremely rigorous design process in place at the outset, analysing the real needs of the user, and tying this in with the business case for the enterprise. In calculating the return on investment, the overall package needs to be assessed and mapped against the potential gain in productivity.
As well as getting the environment right, choosing the correct technology is also essential. It is vital to choose a system that will serve not only today’s requirements, but has the capability to evolve to remain effective in the long term. The continued evolution of software-based products leads to an easier upgrade path for many systems, taking advantage of new standards, formats and work practices, without corresponding hardware replacement costs.
So, what are the considerations to take into account when designing audio-visual facilities for the modern organisation? This will depend on the space involved and whether you are kitting out one room, an entire building or a wider campus. The first step is to perform a detailed functional review of the services to be provided, taking input from all the key stakeholders.
Among them are:
- Size of the room - This will determine the screen size, audio system configuration and control system requirements. Does the room facilitate 10 people or 100 people? Is it a single room or does it have the ability to be partitioned into two or more rooms?
- Primary use – Is the room to be used predominantly for presentations and video conferencing or will it be multi-purpose?
- Furniture – Is this to be a fixed configuration or does the room layout need to be flexible?
- Architectural elements - Are there glass walls? Is there a lot of outside light coming in through windows? What is the room orientation? Is there a false ceiling? Is there access under the floor? Is the building a protected structure?
Presentation type - If the presentation material is to consist of highly-detailed data, such as spreadsheet data or technical CAD drawings, then the resolution of the displays becomes a very important factor.
While there are many suppliers who can fulfil individual elements of the conferencing and visual communications needs of the modern enterprise, few can bring a holistic view to ensure organisations can display, distribute and manage data in the most effective manner possible. This requires significant knowledge and experience.
Working with a partner who is continuously researching technical developments, IT security, workspace environments and cultural change, can ensure that the return on investment of the systems deployed will outweigh the initial capital expenditure long into the future. And by ultimately ensuring the technology is easy to navigate, this will work towards reducing the stress experienced by nine out of 10 users.
- Kevin Moore is MD of Eurotek, an Irish company and market leader in the design, supply, installation and integration of audio-visual communications equipment. www.eurotek.ie