2020 has shown us the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. Having meeting rooms that can cater to any device and platform helps you make sure, as an IT manager, that you've never caught unawares.
The meeting room compatibility challenge
More than ever before, meeting rooms are required to cater to a variety of presenters, meeting purposes, lengths, and formats. The available technology needs to support a multitude of needs without getting in the way of successful sales pitches, briefings, brainstorms, or other collaborative meetings, whether offline or online. Sources in the modern meeting rooms include laptops (possibly of a variety of models and brands), other personal devices such as smartphones and tablets, projectors, wireless sharing devices, microphones, and webcams. The AV system must be flexible enough to work seamlessly regardless of the equipment being used, the attendees, and the type of meeting.
BYO concepts in meeting spaces
The meeting room compatibility challenge can be solved by introducing BYO concepts in the meeting room. In recent years, the IT/AV world has been hit by a wave of acronyms starting with BYO. Here is an overview of the three most popular ones:
BYOD – referring to “Bring your own device”
BYOM – referring to “Bring your own meeting”
BYOA – referring to “Bring your own applications”
BYOD is a term that is broadly used in IT to describe workplace policies that allow employees to use privately-owned devices to access company applications and privileged information on a company’s private servers instead of using company-issued ones. BYOD in the meeting room refers to the ability to bring a personal device into a meeting space, instead of using a hard codec or a dedicated PC installed in the meeting room. Solvo by Neets is an affordable meeting room solution that can support BYOD meeting rooms.
BYOM is used to describe a meeting space that is designed to be platform-agnostic, meaning that users are able to use their preferred web- or cloud-based video conferencing application such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex and other.
BYOA is used to describe company policies that allow employees to forgo the standard software offered by their employees in favor of using their preferred productivity and collaboration apps, such as digital whiteboards, project management tools, note-taking tools, or presentation tools. In a meeting space, BYOA apps would be used on employees’ personal or private devices and shared wired or wirelessly via projectors, displays, or interactive whiteboards.
Advantages of a BYO solution in the meeting room
One of the perceived advantages of BYO principles is increased employee productivity. Being allowed to use devices and applications that one has chosen, and is a superuser of, saves employees much time that is otherwise spent on IT onboarding and learning how to use the company-issued tools. Another benefit here is the reduced number of IT support tickets. Time saved is especially crucial in meeting spaces, as there is a specific amount of time allocated that should not be wasted on IT issues.
Having the freedom to use preferred devices, video conferencing tools, and other collaboration apps is also claimed to raise employee morale and increase job satisfaction. Several companies use BYO policies as a recruitment strategy and a way of attracting a young, tech-savvy workforce.
In the knowledge-based economy, highly skilled employees are a company’s most valuable assets. Companies need a strategy in place to nurture, share, and make the best use out of employees’ knowledge. BYO strategies that ensure employees have the freedom and flexibility to find their own best way of working and collaboration provides a space for knowledge sharing, idea generation, productivity, efficiency, and innovation.
Why should more meeting rooms be video-enabled?
Remote meetings have been slowly but surely making their way into most office workers’ day-to-day. Companies have a growing worldwide presence, with teams sitting in offices in several locations. Other companies outsource hire external agencies and freelancers. The need for remote meetings was intensified in 2020 with the COVID-19 epidemic, where remote meetings suddenly became essential due to employees going into quarantine.
The epidemic has shaped a new way of working – forcing workers to learn and adapt to the new reality of virtual communication and collaboration. The new “normal” will place many demands on enterprises’ physical and IT infrastructure. Personal workplaces might be equipped with company-issued audio endpoints such as a headset, microphone, and webcam to enable employees to collaborate remotely directly from their desks. More remote meetings will also put pressure on meeting room availability, pushing enterprises to repurpose office spaces into meeting spaces to deal with the increased demand.
The technology available in the meeting rooms can make or break meetings, having a profound impact on the quality of the communication and the effectiveness of attendees when collaborating with colleagues. Technically, employees are perfectly able to have a video meeting using only their laptop and make use of the inbuilt microphone, speakers, and camera. However, due to the small space available inside the laptop’s enclosure, the quality of the audio and video endpoints are mediocre at best. Furthermore, in a meeting with a mix of physically present and remote attendees, it is impossible to communicate clearly and effectively using only a laptop. In such a scenario, dedicated hardware that facilitates online meetings and video conferencing is essential.
What does a BYOD friendly, video-enabled meeting space look like?
To enable meeting room users to have the freedom to use whatever devices and applications they wanted; the meeting room must be designed to be highly compatible with anything users might decide to bring with them. In doing so, the IT must also ensure that the AV system in the meeting room provides a seamless experience, where users focus on collaborating, not on getting the system to work.
There are several options to make meeting spaces compatible with users’ devices and desired applications. The choice depends on several factors, including the size of the room, new installation vs. retrofit, company policies regarding BYOD, BYOM, and BYOA, budgetary constraints, and more.
Wireless solutions provide a lot of flexibility in terms of the type of personal devices brought to the meeting room, enabling users to share their laptop, tablet, or smartphone screen. Some wireless solutions (such as Airtame, Barco ClickShare, wePresent, Mersive Solstice, and more) consist of a receiver that is connected to a display or projector. Users share their screen by using a transmitter or by launching an application. Applications can be free or with a subscription plan. In-app, users are typically offered the choice to share a single window or share the entire desktop. More advanced applications include annotation tools, facilitating live collaboration.
An additional advantage of wireless solutions is the increased mobility in the meeting room, as presenters are not tethered with a cabled connection to a specific spot in the room. Wireless solutions can also reduce the amount of support time spent in meeting rooms, as the IT team does not need to provide special adaptors for a wired connection so that users can connect their personal device.
Screen mirroring functionality is also useful in video conferencing settings, where one meeting attendee can launch a video application from their personal device onto a display screen. An optimal video conferencing experience would, however, still require additional dedicated audio endpoints to ensure everybody in the meeting room is seen and heard clearly. One could use wireless cameras, microphone and speakers, but the connection is typically neither strong nor stable. Having wired audio endpoints connected to the laptop eliminates most of the benefits from a wireless screen sharing solution.
A wired solution, as the name implies, is a solution where users connect their personal devices with an HDMI, USB to the display or to an AV system. A wired solution typically provides a more stable connection and provides connectivity regardless of whether a device is connected to the network.
A wired solution can be as simple as connecting a personal device to a display using an HDMI cable to a more complex setup, where users connect to a hub. Advantages of using a hub are that users need only connect to the hub with one cable to automatically connect to all the other peripherals connected to the hub. Solvo by Neets is an example of such a hub. It is specifically designed to create a “system”, connecting standalone AV peripherals to the displays and to a user’s laptop via a single USB 3.0 connection. It transfers data from audio and video peripherals, from users’ devices and provides users with a Gigabit Ethernet interface, allowing optional access to company LAN or internet network. CEC technology provides a seamless experience for the user, turning all the equipment on automatically the second users connect their devices.
A more extensive upgrade would the installation of a control system in a meeting room, such as the Neets Control – UniForm or a Touch Panel and controller. The control system connects all the available AV equipment and provides one, easy-decodable interface from which users can operate the different devices. A control system support wireless and wired screen sharing, presentation and video conferencing.
Get in touch for more information about BYO solutions
No matter what type of meeting, it must be easy and fast for users to connect and get their meeting started. Once an online meeting has started, it’s equally important for the audio and video connections to be stable and that everybody in the room is clearly seen and heard. Collaboration meetings require high compatibility with any device presenters might bring to the room.
All of these factors require a meeting room AV system that is thoughtfully designed with the users in focus.
At Neets, we wish to provide you (as IT/AV responsible) and your meeting room users with the best possible experience. If you are looking for a complete AV solution for your meeting rooms, get in touch with your local reseller, and ask for more information about Neets. They will be able to design a solution that is tailored to your meeting rooms and your specific needs.
We are also available for a chat if you wish to know more about AV control systems and how they can make a positive difference for your enterprise. You are welcome to contact us directly or find a Neets dealer for more information and advice.