If a business person from the 1950s were to set foot in one of today’s conference rooms, there’s a good chance they’d mistake the conference room equipment for the control panels of a spaceship.
Whereas the conference rooms of the 1950s mostly consisted of tables, chairs, and lamps, today’s conference rooms feature a cornucopia of advanced technology: digital projectors, HD TVs, videoconferencing systems, wireless speakers, microphones, and fancy LED lights.
For most of us, this technology lost its novelty a long time ago. Videoconferencing, once an idea as outlandish as teleportation, is now widely accepted as just another everyday fact of life. But for people of our grandparents’ generation, our conference rooms are something out of Star Trek.
All of this technology presents an enormous double edge sword for IT managers. On the one hand, it can be a powerful tool for collaborating with people on the other side of the planet; on the other hand, it can also be a powerful tool for creating spaghetti-like nests of cabling that trip people up and limit chair movement.
How can you simplify things? Here are 4 steps.
1. Assess Technology Needs
Find out who uses your conference rooms the most and what they use them for. Are they mostly used for staff gatherings to hammer out project details, or do they use conference rooms to impress clients? Do conferences take place in person, or via video conferencing? How much square footage do you have? Are your presenters comfortable bringing their own technology to meetings?
Ultimately, you will need to ensure your conference room equipment provides technological flexibility and dependability, so no matter what a presenter needs, it can be arranged quickly.
2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
One way to cut back on conference room equipment is to encourage users to bring their own. Not only does it eliminate the need for a shared conference room PC, it also saves end users the hassle of transferring their presentations from one computer to another and then verifying whether or not the presentation runs properly on the new computer.
However, in some industries and situations, security concerns make BYOD solutions impractical or impossible. Plus, you have to ensure your projection equipment is compatible with a variety of apps and devices. BYOD can work, but it may be trickier than you expect.
3. Banish Cables and Switch Boxes for Your Screen and Projector
In addition to throwing out your shared conference room PC, you may as well throw out all of your cables, connectivity boxes, and cable management boxes. By implementing a wireless presentation solution in your conference room (such as, say, Ubiq), your end users can send their laptop screen to the TV or projector with one click of a button.
While the majority of wireless presentation solutions don’t meet the security standards of most enterprises, we know of at least one wireless presentation solution (hint: it’s Ubiq) that does. Not only does Ubiq integrate multiple networks (so guest users can stream over the guest network and internal users can stream over the corporate network), it also comes with a centralized Dashboard that allows IT to implement other security measures (such as requiring end users to enter a four digit PIN in order to stream).
For most things in life, less is more and the same should apply to your conference room equipment.
4. Select Conference Room Furniture With Care
For IT managers who insist on having a cabled conference room, hiding cables is tricky but not impossible. Tables with hidden flip-tops, switches, and outlets to assist with cable management are readily available from most furniture retailers. For more information on how to hide cables, please consult our conference room cable management checklist.
Technology presents us with opportunities for collaboration and sharing that are unprecedented. With nothing more than the piece of plastic, glass, and wire that you carry around in your pocket every day, you can communicate and share information with people sitting next to you, people halfway around the world, or both simultaneously.
But your phone, tablet, or laptop will only take you so far. To share your screen with a room full of people, you either need cables and adapters or a wireless presentation device. Cables and adapters will ensure a solid connection (if you can figure out which output and adapter to use), but take up space and look ugly. It is therefore our conclusion that a simple, elegant conference is a wireless one.