Exploring ISE this year, one trend that stood out was the sheer number of companies exhibiting innovations in the field of collaboration, particularly those aimed at enterprise AV.
The theory behind investing in collaborative workspaces has been explained many times. By opting for tools that enable workers to work in any space, at any time and using the devices of their choice, productivity will improve, less time will be wasted in setting up technology and employees will feel more engaged, even in these days of remote and flexible working where teams can be dispersed across multiple locations and time zones.
At ISE, the focus very much seemed to be on user experience, with tools that are designed to have minimal setup and learning time, and that are compatible with multiple devices. Whether using video, audio, touch or apps, the intention in each case is to ensure communication is simple and natural no matter where your clients, colleagues or other stakeholders are located.
So, what does a collaborative workspace need if it is going to truly benefit workers, rather than act as a hindrance? The key is to employ tools that aid communication whether that’s video conferencing displays, reliable audio devices, systems that enable the sharing and annotation of documents, or, more likely, a combination of all three.
One technology that seems to offer this in abundance, and that garnered much attention at ISE, is the wireless presentation system.
Wireless presentation systems offer a number of advantages in the workplace, not least that they’re BYOD friendly and so work with the devices employees are used to relying on every day. This also means the learning curve associated with these devices is very low, translating into higher user uptake compared with more complicated tools. This simplicity also means that meetings can be streamlined, with minimal setup time and fewer calls to tech support to solve issues before the real work can begin. Systems that offer one-click sharing of various file types while being able to host multiple users will undoubtedly aid collaboration. And, by integrating a wireless presentation system into your existing conference room setup, you can quickly and easily create a much more productive environment for employees.
There are a number of other factors that need to be considered when creating an effective enterprise AV collaborative workspace for users, not least connectivity for any device, including wired/wireless, and charging facilities for laptops and mobile devices.
It is also important that conference equipment is vendor agnostic and offers easy control, such as a touchpad, auto-switcher, voice control or automatic room (powers on when an occupant is detected).
Touch-compatible displays, either finger or pen, are increasingly expected, enabling easy annotation and the sharing of ideas.
Other features that should be considered include the ability to break-out to additional spaces, a room booking display with the ability to make ad-hoc bookings, and excellent audio pickup through a beam tracking mic or similar.
Once you have a collaboration space that truly works for your organisation, it’s important to keep it this way, so proactively manage the space. This means ensuring software, firmware and consumables are updated and replenished in advance of disruption being reported. As much of this technology can now sit on the network, adding the benefits this brings in terms of remote monitoring and management, this is much easier than in the past, and means that if support is needed it can be provided quickly and effectively. Also, collect feedback from room users and equipment telemetry and analyse incident data to continually improve the experience.
Finally, enterprise AV’s future collaborative workspace is about more than just the technology within it; the design of a workspace can have a significant impact on productivity. For example, lighting is now seen as very important to the design of a space, with academic publications linking lighting optimal fixtures, blinds and temperature to improved concentration, performance and happiness.
Acoustic control is also important, especially for collaboration spaces where local and remote attendees will be working together. In addition, the inclusion of specialised collaboration furniture can improve meetings by facilitating local attendees, helping them feel like equal participants, with enough space and technology access to contribute effectively.
If ISE showed us anything, it’s that technology in the corporate sector continues to move apace and this doesn’t look set to change any time soon. In the future, expect to see increased use of AI wearables, virtual assistants, voice activation and perhaps even VR presentation systems, making this a fascinating area to watch in the coming months and years.