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Of all the tricks, hacks, and shortcuts that you can use to make your conference room cables look presentable, the best and most efficient is to simply throw them in the garbage and switch to a wireless presentation system.
But failing that, the second best solution is to invest in a conference table connectivity box (or, for businesses that have multiple conference rooms with large-sized tables, dozens and dozens of conference table connectivity boxes).
Retailing for roughly the same price as a new iPad, the conference table connectivity box fits snugly into the center of your meeting room table (although you may have to drill a hole first) and provides your end users with a wide array of video inputs to choose from. If one end user has a VGA port on their laptop and another user has an HDMI port and a third user has a mini DisplayPort, there’s no need to panic: As long as you have the relevant cables on hand, they can all plug in directly to the connectivity box rather than get up and connect to the back of the conference room TV or projector.
But not all conference table connectivity boxes are the same. There are only so many ports that you can fit into a box that’s 9 inches by 7 inches and not every connectivity box will have the inputs that you require. Here are the 7 ports that you’ll need most urgently.

1. HDMI

The most useful output for your conference table connectivity box: HDMI port

First introduced in 2003, HDMI became the dominant video cable around 2007 and has held its grip on the market ever since. If your conference table connectivity box has just one video output, make sure it’s an HDMI.

 2. VGA

Prior to HDMI’s 2007 takeover, VGA cables were the king of the land. In this day and age, buying a new laptop or projector that has a VGA port is about as challenging as buying a new, factory-sealed VHS player. Even so, there are still a surprising number of perfectly functional laptops and projectors kicking around that rely on them, and the odds that one of these devices will end up in your conference room are not insignificant. By having a VGA input in your connectivity box, you will be adequately prepared for this scenario (provided, of course, that you also have a VGA to VGA cable on hand).

3. mini DisplayPort

Apple first introduced the mini DisplayPort in 2008 and by 2013 it was a standard feature on all Apple computers. Earlier this year, however, Apple began phasing the port out.
Given the extremely large volume of devices currently in circulation that have mini DisplayPorts but no HDMI or VGA ports, it’s a good idea to make sure your conference table connectivity box is equipped with this input. It may not be till 2030 that the last laptop with a mini DisplayPort stops functioning.

4. USB


The history of USB cables is a bit like the plot of the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: You need to carefully read its Wikipedia page three times in order to understand it. But you don’t need a firm grasp of its history in order to realize why it might be needed in the conference room: It’s a universal industry standard that plugs into just about anything.

5. Ethernet

You should probably make sure your conference room connectivity box has an Ethernet port.
Since all laptops are capable of connecting to Wi-Fi, it’s difficult to imagine why your end users would need an Ethernet port. But after browsing through a list of all of the connectivity boxes currently on the market, it quickly becomes apparent that they all come with Ethernet ports, so there must be some sort of demand for them.

6. YPbPr component video


Likewise, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would need to connect a VHS player or miniDV camcorder to a conference room TV or projector. But since the vast majority of connectivity boxes come with this input, it’s only reasonable to conclude that VHS-based business presentations are far more common than one might initially assume.

7. AC


Of course, all of these inputs are useless to a laptop that isn’t powered on. True, most laptop batteries last at least 2 – 5 hours. But you already have six plugs in your connectivity box, so there’s no harm in throwing in a seventh for good measure.

Other Things To Consider

Once you’ve drilled a hole into your conference room table and installed your connectivity box, your journey toward a presentable-looking conference room is almost complete. All you have left to do is to run the seven aforementioned cables through some cable management boxes, under your carpet, and along your baseboards. For more information on how to do this, please consult our conference room cable management checklist.
Or, if this whole process sounds like too much of a hassle, you may want to look into switching over to a wireless presentation solution that allows your end users to instantly connect to the TV or projector no matter what type of video outputs their laptops have. It only takes 10 minutes for IT to install, and you don’t have to mutilate your conference room table with power tools to do it.
ADDITIONAL READING
Picking a Conference Room Name: 5 Tips to Help You Get Started
Top 10 Conference Room Projectors of 2017
Conference Room Design: 10 Examples Worth Studying
 

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The era of working in an isolated office cubicle all day may soon be over. More and more companies are knocking down their cubicles in favor of open or collaborative working spaces. But where we spend our time in the office isn’t the only thing that is changing either. How we work has transformed substantially in the last decade. Team projects, giving and receiving feedback, peer-editing, and other collaborative trends are becoming the norm for most workplaces. The importance of collaboration tools in the workplace is growing, and in 2017, their implementation will be one of the top priorities for companies. Here’s why:

Work is completed faster

According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of professionals report that they need to partner with others throughout the day to complete their work. However, finding meeting space or planning in advance is difficult. In a typical workday, over 70 percent report wasting at least 15 minutes searching for space.
Online collaboration tools have helped to solve this problem by making working together on tasks easier than ever before. Individuals don’t need to be in the same room or even in the same country to collaborate on and edit projects. With video conferencing, meeting room software, and wireless presentation systems, team members can create, edit, and lead presentations without needing to meet face-to-face, and collaborate more efficiently during meetings where they do need to meet face to face.

Employees are more engaged and happy

Collaboration helps to foster teamwork and brings employees together, which makes a huge impact on their overall happiness. For many, the time spent in the office exceeds the typical 40 hour work week. It could even exceed the hours outside of the office. With so much time at work, employee satisfaction is crucial.
Several studies have shown that having work friends makes individuals more engaged and happy. One study claims that connecting with colleagues could bring more happiness than earning an extra $100,000 a year. Furthermore, when employees are happy and engaged, they are less likely to leave their current positions and more likely to be high performing, valuable members of your team.

Knowledge sharing creates higher quality end products

Two heads are better than one is more than just a saying. When two or more people work together on a project, they are more likely to reach or surpass their goals. According to ClearCompany, 86 percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration as the number one cause of business failures.
On the other hand, when teams collaborate and communicate effectively it can boost morale and motivation, as well as produce higher quality end products. Over 26% of individuals in a global study said that discussing success with co-workers motivates them. Collaborative environments, open meeting room setups, and new conference room technology allow individuals to share knowledge and give feedback in real-time. They can improve upon projects as they work on them, instead of at the end, when it is too late to revise.
It is becoming common for people to share ideas and complete projects and other work-related tasks in teams rather than alone. Those that still isolate themselves in cubicles and private offices are missing out on opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise with colleagues. Whereas organizations that provide employees with collaboration tools and opportunities are gaining the competitive edge that they need to succeed in the future.
 

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It is estimated that a whopping 11 million official business meetings take place in the United States on a daily basis. That translates to 2.6 billion meetings per year. Therefore it is not surprising that almost all companies – from new fledgling start-ups to gigantic conglomerates – run on meetings. And meetings run on presentations!
Presentations determine the way we work, the way we understand our business, the way we analyze the business, the outcome, the planning, and so much more. Presentations are the centerpiece of meetings. A tedious, uninformative presentation can ruin your day; a great one can make your week. However, statistics also reveal that on average, out of the 62 monthly meetings that are attended by an employee, the employee spends 31 meeting hours unproductively. That means the economy loses $37 billion to unproductive meeting hours.
On average, employees spend 15% of their time attending meetings. For mid-level managers, the figure rises to 35%.
Yet statistics reveal that these meetings are not as efficient as they should be nor are they as productive or cost-efficient. This clearly goes to show that while plenty of meetings are taking place, they are not smart meetings
Here are some of the reasons that make meetings unproductive:
Cables on the Table
Conventional meeting rooms use cables to connect computers, laptops, and other devices for presentations. However, ensuring that all meeting attendees can view the same material becomes increasingly cumbersome, especially, for remote attendees attending meetings from other locations. Finding cables for HDMI / HDMI Mini / USB / Micro outputs, and getting them to work also proves to be a difficult task.
BYOD – Bring your own device
The concept of BYOD was first coined by Intel. With more and more employees getting their own devices, the problem of supporting different systems, different hardware, connectivity ports, etc. emerges. This slows down meetings, makes them ineffective, and pose a threat to the company’s security too.
Inefficient meeting rooms
Conventional meeting rooms make the job of the presenter tough. As it is, not everyone is good at presentations, and then to ensure that the connectivity cables work, connected devices work properly, that every member present can view the material properly, displays are uniform, the software is compatible, etc. prove to be additional hindrances.
Changing conference room technology and cost-effectiveness.
Conventional meeting room systems do not adapt to changing technology, rendering them ineffective and eventually increasing costs to make them adaptable to newer and constantly changing technology.
The antidote for these shortcomings is simple: wireless presentation systems.
Wireless presentation systems enable better meetings. Here’s how:
• Wireless presentation systems and meeting room software enable hassle free connectivity. All devices in the meeting room can connect to the main display, allowing wireless transmission of data, eliminating the need for printing copies, moving laptops and phones around the room so that all attendees can get a look, or send heavy presentation files via e-mail.
• With the advent of smartphones, wireless presentation systems make it easy to use different platforms like Windows, MAC, Android and iOS.
• Anyone can connect to the wireless system from anywhere, making meetings and presentations seamless and multi-user collaborative. Your meetings become more interactive, enabling a seamless presentation, as other participants can simultaneously share and present data from their devices.
• Training becomes easier, more interactive, and covers a wider range as users can log into the system from anywhere.
• Organizations and their meeting rooms are able to keep up with changing technology, as the wireless presentation system can adapt to newer AV technology.
In short, wireless presentation systems are more cost-effective, more productive and efficient. Wireless presentation systems make meeting a success!

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In 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation Xers to become the biggest generation working today. By 2030, they are predicted to make up 75 percent of the labor force. Right now, those between the ages of 18 and 34 comprise over half, and they are changing how organizations do business.
They are unlike the generations before them, especially when it comes to what they value in the workplace. In a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), personal development and flexibility were named as the top two values for young workers, while compensation came in at a surprising third. They also value technology and expect businesses to offer tech solutions that make their jobs easier and their work life flexible.
Millennials already depend on technology every day to shop, connect with friends and family, manage health and fitness, and much more. In order to attract the next generation of talented company leaders, more businesses are integrating mobile devices, wearables, collaboration tools, and meeting room technologies into their business processes. Instead of focusing on the 401(k) plans or insurance benefits, many HR recruiters are talking about the technology perks.
Those with tech-friendly workplaces and meeting rooms are more likely to impress millennial employees and business partners. Here’s how:

Highlight convenience and flexibility.

There are over 37 percent of mobile workers in the global labor force. That number doesn’t include the growing number of in-office workers that take days out of the office to work from home. Improved wireless technologies are largely responsible for vastly increasing worker flexibility and mobility.
With the help of mobile and cloud-based solutions, young employees are skewing the typical nine-to-five workday in many organizations. They are demanding remote access to work documents and projects so that they can work on them while inside and outside of the office space. Organizations that also have wireless meeting solutions or use meeting room software make it possible for younger employees to video conference or collaborate in office meetings from the comfort of their homes.

Engage their creativity.

Millennials have grown up in a time of reality TV and YouTube stars. With smartphones and social media platforms, they can create and share videos, images and other media instantly. Their generation values creativity and wants to work somewhere that shows that it cares about their opinions and personal development.
Companies that offer up-to-date meeting technologies give young employees the tools to tap into that creativity and use it in the office environment. Encourage them to add some of their own creativity into projects and presentations and they’ll be more likely to stay engaged and feel a sense of purpose.

Create a collaborative working environment.

Millennials are more prone to working in teams than any generation before them, and they like to use technology to help them do it. Over 41 percent of Millennials prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face-to-face. Holding face-to-face meetings is still valuable to them, but only for certain occasions. They tend to lean towards electronic solutions for everyday communications, while holding in-person meetings periodically.
Organizations can use wireless presentation software like Ubiq to enable employees to collaborate with their coworkers from anywhere. Using online collaboration tools, they can easily create and edit their presentations in real-time.
Millennials are accustomed to fast Internet, wireless solutions, easy-to-use tools, and quick results. If the technology that their workplace provides isn’t efficient or useful, they will look for other solutions that do meet their needs. They could end up using unsafe software that puts company data at risk or look to other companies that offer more efficient tech solutions. But, the right meeting room technologies can impress and engage them.

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The Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and mobile technologies have changed how both humans and machines communicate with each other. Smart homeowners can turn on their lights or tell their coffeepot to start brewing before they arrive home with the help of a connected device. In the corporate world, advancements in devices and applications have made it possible for even small business owners to accept mobile payments. Those are just a few examples of how connected devices are making an impact in our lives.
Connected devices, or devices that can communicate with each other remotely through the Internet, are also revolutionizing the workplace. According to Gartner, there will be over 6.4 billion connected devices by the end of 2016–a 30 percent increase from 2015. This includes devices like wearable technology, wireless presentation systems, meeting room software, online collaboration tools, smartphones, and tablets.
One recent study reports that businesses will be the top adopters of connected solutions. These devices are becoming more common and are impacting multiple aspects in companies all over the world. What role do connected devices play in meeting rooms?
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Use the entire meeting space.
Attending a business meeting no longer consists of staring at a projector screen or television while someone flips through a PowerPoint slideshow. With the help of connected devices, meeting leaders can create more interactive and visually intriguing meetings.
If there are multiple screens in the room, connected devices can switch seamlessly between them. If attendees have tablets, they can receive meeting documents or agendas with the touch of a button. Since connected devices eliminate the need for wires, this saves space, cost, and setup time.
Promote collaboration during meetings.
When managed effectively, connected devices can improve the productivity of your meetings. For example, in a recent study by Kelton, 71 percent of company leaders agreed that the use of connected devices helps boost productivity in their organizations.
Instead of simply lecturing to a group for an hour or more, leaders are turning their meeting rooms into collaborative meeting rooms. They are involving their audience by giving and receiving feedback, collaborating on projects, and editing in real-time with connected devices.
Increasing flexibility beyond the meeting room.
One of the primary advantages of connected devices is that they increase flexibility. Individuals can access them from anywhere and there are no wires or equipment needed, which means that the days of relying on multiple pieces of equipment to conduct a presentation or meeting are over. Hardware like projectors, cables, laptops, screens, and other parts can be eliminated. With one connected device, organizations can conduct presentations, communicate with coworkers, and easily perform dozens of other work tasks.
Connected devices allow organizations to minimize the amount of hardware that they need to perform necessary functions. However, they do more than that. As technology becomes even more sophisticated, connected devices are reinventing how we conduct meetings and collaborate with each other. Businesses that embrace the connected device revolution increase their organization’s opportunities for innovation and long-term sustainability.

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It may have been considered the norm to have wires and cables installed throughout company meeting spaces a few years ago. Now, however, cables are more often viewed as an unnecessary clutter. When upgrading working spaces and conference room technology, businesses are thinking wirelessly.
If your organization is upgrading its facilities in the near future, here are some of the top reasons why you should think wirelessly too.

Cables are eyesores.

One of the top considerations when re-thinking a meeting room setup is appearance. When it comes to office aesthetics, cables are eyesores, especially when they are hanging everywhere. In time, they’ll likely get tangled or risk becoming a tripping hazard. Meeting spaces without cables are more visually appealing and secure.

Mobile eliminates installation and maintenance costs.

Cables also come with cost installation and maintenance fees. Adding cables to a meeting room usually means hiring professionals to install them. They often break or simply wear down over time too, which means you’ll need to repair or replace them eventually. Wireless solutions like wireless presentation systems save businesses from the burden and costs associated with maintaining cables and equipment.

Mobility creates more flexibility.

With wireless technology, businesses free themselves from being locked in one place. Should your organization ever decide to relocate, it will not have to unhook the cables or reinstall them in a new location. Instead, with wireless solutions, it can be as easy as moving a mobile device from one room to another.

Wireless is the future.

Companies no longer need to be tied down by cables because of poor wireless performance. Wireless technologies and mobile performance has greatly advanced in the last decade. Cables simply are not as necessary as they may have been in the past. Instead, wireless solutions have become more vital.
According to a recent study by Constant Contact, over 66 percent of small business owners use mobile solutions as part of their daily business processes. Another two-thirds of SMBs say that they would struggle to survive without wireless tech. Collaboration tools, software and other business technology has evolved to meet the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce and population. Renovated meeting spaces should be equipped with cutting-edge technology, which means that they should be designed with mobility in mind.
It is important to be forward-thinking when renovating office space. Cables are a thing of the past. If organizations want their meeting room to remain relevant and useful for years to come, wireless is the way to go.

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Meetings are often regarded as boring, unproductive wastes of time. In one study by Hubspot, 47 percent of respondents said that meetings were the top time waster in the office. However, that is largely due to how they are conducted. When conducted effectively, meetings disseminate valuable information, increase workplace communication, and boost morale and productivity.
One major contributor to meeting success is punctuality. Punctuality greatly affects the value of meetings. In some cultures, starting a meeting a little later than the scheduled time is completely normal or even expected. However, in general, there are several reasons why starting on time is crucial to its success.
It Fosters Productivity 
According to a recent study by Bain & Company, a meeting that starts five minutes late will be eight percent less productive. When given an exact time limit for completely meeting objectives, people are more likely to work harder to accomplish them.
Keeping the time limit for meetings below one hour can help increase the effectiveness by helping to maintain attention. Online collaboration tools and conference room technology have also helped to decrease the time we spend in unproductive meetings. Save small updates and information for emails, instant messengers or other collaboration tools. This way, you can more easily stay within your time limit and meet the objectives that you set.
It Makes a Good First Impression
Imagine that you are attending a meeting with two different presenters. When you walk into the first one, the speaker is already there. His or her equipment is not ready and not functional, they hand you an agenda with objectives, and they cannot start exactly on time. The second speaker arrives five minutes late and spends another 15 minutes setting up presentation technology.
Which presenter made the best impression? Most likely, none of them. When you are leading a meeting, attendees expect organization and promptness. If your meeting room setup relies on wires and cables and your end users spend the first 15 minutes of their presentation struggling with connectivity issues, they may as well be presenting to an empty room. Individuals can eliminate set up time and worries by using wireless presentation systems and by arriving a few minutes before the scheduled time.
It Shows You Value Attendee’s Time.
By starting a meeting on time, presenters are also showing that they value the time of their attendees. When meetings continuously start and end on time, presenters build a reputation of respect, professionalism, and competence. On the other hand, when the start time fluctuates, people are more likely to show up late, daydream during them, or stop attending them altogether.
Along with a number of other positive benefits, meetings can be an effective way to bring your team together, share updates, boost morale, and improve communications. However, when they start late, presenters already set them up to be less productive and effective. Starting meetings on time is one of the top ways to ensure that they are successful and engaging.
ADDITIONAL READING
5 Must-Have AV Products For Your Conference Room
Top 10 Conference Room Cable Management Fails
Wireless Screen Sharing vs. Conference Table Cable Management

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According to the Global Policy Forum, as of 2014, there are over 40,000 multinational corporations working through 250,000 affiliated firms. That’s a lot of data being shared across borders. That’s also a lot of IT employees working to keep information flowing and secured.
Do you work for a multinational company? If so, then you know that IT plays a critical role in connecting everyone. Your infrastructure has to support multiple offices, devices, and tools, whether your IT is on-site or in a central location.
How does one determine how the IT department will be structured? The size of your global company and its offices can help you make the right call in designing your IT organizational structure. Let’s explore the benefits of managing IT locally or at your corporate headquarters.
Managing IT Locally:
Pros:

  • Team on-site to address to critical/high priority issues
  • Help desk support more readily accessible
  • Hardware installations/integration may be performed more timely
  • Hands-on training of technology
  • Localized projects and tasks can be handled and managed
  • Communication and language barriers may be limited 

Cons:

  • Global deployment has to be time to reduce disruption
  • Limited resources, if outside of corporate office

Managing IT Centrally:
Pros:

  • Global support can be provided to address common/shared issues
  • Global resolution of critical/high priority issues and updates
  • Limited travel required
  • Can monitor activities from one location
  • 24/7 support, if resources permit

Cons:

  • If 24/7 support is not provided, time zones and locations can become barriers
  • Cannot be on-site to support local projects and hardware installations
  • Communication and language barriers may be significant and could hiring multilingual employees
  • Limited resources, if centralized team structure is not balanced

What will work for you?
Your company’s goals and strategies can help you determine how to design the ideal IT team across its many locations. What will work for one business may not work for another. Look at how your company is organized and what business needs are being served in each location. This could indicate how you and your employees can provide the best level of support possible.
A local structure may work if your overseas operations are significant and require full-team support. By having local employees, the IT infrastructure in a specific location can ensure matters are handled efficiently. By having centralized employees, global matters can be addressed singularly, rather than by office.
As business and technology become more global, companies will need to find ways to manage work activities, data exchange and security. In addition, companies are hiring more remote employees, the location of IT will only matter based on reporting structure.
At some point, will IT become more centralized? Possibly. In the meantime, IT needs to be structured around employees and partners where they are and how they work for you.

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When organizing a presentation, one must always ask the question, “What could go wrong?” The visions of worst-case scenarios in our minds can be frightening, hilarious, or both. Nevertheless, we have a job to do and a message to get across to our audience.
A lot of details often go into planning a presentation—from the content to the technology that supports it. While the presentation may be a one-person show, colleagues and partners play significant roles making sure things run smoothly. No matter how tight your set-up is or how prepared you are, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong.
Anything can happen during a presentation. You can never be too ready. However, with wireless presentations, you’re working with multiple devices and audiences from various locations and time zones. Technology is critical to support everyone across barriers because it’s the technology that brings people together. Therefore, there should be contingency plans to ensure not all is lost when technology fails.
Here are 5 tips to help you salvage your wireless presentation:

  1. Dress Rehearsal. Coordinate with IT on a date/time the day before or the morning of the presentation to run through your presentation set-up. This is an opportunity to perform system checks for Wi-Fi, security and network access to the wireless presentation. You may want to ask one remote colleague to also participate in the dress rehearsal to make sure external connections work as well.
  2. Communication Chain. Depending on the number of people and locations participating in the presentation, create a phone/contact chain. Should technology fail, you need to get in touch with everyone as to the next steps. Whether you’ll need to reschedule or change platforms, make sure you have at least a phone number for each person or team lead. This is especially important for those colleagues or partners who work remotely.
  3. Rain Date. When coordinating the presentation, be sure to schedule a “rain date” using the necessary resources, including the conference room and equipment. When you schedule the presentation date, also have this date set on the calendar.
    Should anything go wrong and you’re unable to bring participants back together, all participants will know there’s another meeting set. If all goes well, you simply need to cancel the “rain date” to make resources available to those who need it.
  4. Documents in Advance. If possible, share your slides or any necessary documentation with participants before the presentation. This could be in the form of a hard copy handout or electronic files. If there is a technical issue that prevents you from moving forward with the presentation, at least your team members will have information readily available.
  5. Record Presentation/Webinar. If you’re unable to reschedule your presentation for everyone, a great option is to record the presentation for team members to review on their own time. Invite them to join you live.

However, by recording and saving the presentation, you create a new document that can be archived and act as a reference. The interaction of a live presentation may be lost, but there are ways to make recorded presentations just as interactive.
Technology fails can be stressful for the host and the participants. Certainly, your IT team should be on hand to lend support. However, by having contingency plans set, you can be better prepared to handle the issues.
What are some ways you’ve saved your wireless presentation? Share your tips with us in the comments!