Planning and operating meeting rooms

Startling pieces of information about meeting rooms appeared last year. In all, there are 32 million corporate meeting rooms already in existence. Despite this, changes in working practice and workplace deployment has seen average weekly meeting room use has risen by 50 percent since 2014. These figures suggest that there is huge potential market out there, and a vast array of applications and solutions.

In a recent report, Futuresource interviewed both corporate AV purchasers and meeting room users in France, Germany, the UK and the USA, about their spending on, and use of, meeting spaces. The corporate market continues to gain importance as a key sector for AV providers and the opportunity is substantial.

The report highlights that the total addressable meeting room market (TAM) exceeds 5 million rooms in both the Western European and North American markets. Close to 50% of employees note their average weekly use of meeting rooms has increased in the last two years, and despite a forecast growth in home working and the rising usage of remote conferencing platforms that allow meetings to take place outside of dedicated spaces, over 20% of companies surveyed expect to add additional meeting rooms in the coming years.

“Alongside a general increase in meeting room use there is also a drive towards more collaborative work group environments. This is being accelerated by two key points of development, namely, the rising adoption of touch technology and the growing requirement for meeting room AV to host remote attendees,” commented Ben Davis of Futuresource Consulting. “Touch is entering the meeting room in both mobile devices and meeting room displays. Our survey shows that 26% of respondents are using tablets or smartphones to share content in meetings and over 30% of companies expect to purchase an interactive meeting room display within the next two years, significantly growing penetration from its current base of <5%. This touch eco-system is creating new opportunities for content management and collaboration solutions that allow interaction through multiple screens and devices.”

 

Video communication

“The integration of conferencing solutions is another key point of consideration for AV purchasers. Over 50% of employees surveyed have been assigned a company sponsored web or video conferencing account and there is a strong requirement to utilise these tools in meeting spaces with one in five face-to-face meetings including a remote attendee connecting via video, web or voice.”

“The adoption of interactive and conferencing tools is creating opportunities for vendors in display, conferencing, device management and collaborative software markets. Across each of these categories a growing number of providers are offering affordable, scalable and highly converged solutions to address the varied requirements of both enterprise and SME customers,” says Davis.

The research also explores the adoption of display products highlighting the growing appetite to and motivations for both company purchasers and employees to replace projectors used in meeting rooms with flat panel solutions. As the market moves towards replacement the channels used for display purchase are changing. The research highlights a growing reliance on web channels as the primary point of purchase for display solutions. The report also highlights that there is a clear difference in terms of AV budgetary decision making and purchasing within larger corporations and SMEs. IT managers hold the purse strings for larger corporations, and owner managers in the latter.

Solutions

 

The size has, and still is, attracted numerous solutions to a sector that is still emerging. The experience of early adopters has already shown that it is important that products used in a meeting room space are intuitive to use, in order to support easy user adoption. This ease-of-use has always to be tempered with security measures, particularly in the corporate environment. This can mean USB ports are locked down for security reasons, so screen sharing devices that function via this method will not work. Many IT managers have misgivings about loading any kind of code onto corporate networks. Products such as the popular Clickshare require an ‘applet’ to run either in cache memory (temp) or be installed, which some security regimes rule out.

When designing a meeting room, it is obviously important to be cognisant of these restrictions and to be briefed about the purpose of the room. The client CEO’s aim is often to maximise productivity and innovation by deploying technologies that complement existing workflows and suit a wide range of meeting spaces. These can vary between the board room and a huddle space, and while the functionality is often similar the choice of solution and specification can vary tremendously.

Even fundamentals, like choice of main display size for any given space, can be subjective, with variable including room usage and screen resolution. However, as a starting point, dividing the viewing distance by 1/3 will provide a guide to a recommended diagonal for the display in the room. Interactive touch screens have become almost standard for meeting spaces, supporting both BYOD plus this in-room and remote collaboration for the various meeting participants.

Operational considerations

With the growth in demand for meeting rooms and the massively increased provision of flexible workspaces, you be forgiven for assuming that the meeting room problem has been solved. Identifying a suitable venue and scheduling a meeting is now possible using a range of room booking solutions, many linked to standard 365-style calendar solutions through dedicated apps. And yet, how many times have you experienced room boking systems that report all the rooms in am organisation full, when a casual stroll along a corridor shows this is not the case?

The challenge is to close the loops in the system, by integrating the meeting room facilities into the calendar and room booking system and, ideally, completing the loop with reporting feedback on occupancy, equipment and consumables usage (including ‘soft’ factors like catering). Solutions are available that even monitor variables like oxygen usage and CO2 production to confirm that a rom booked for 12 was actually used by 12, and not 6. Extreme? Well, perhaps but meeting spaces are at a premium and need to be utilise efficiently.

Integrating the meeting room:
i3 Technologies
Evoko
RedstoneConnect

A company can have a room full of cutting edge, fully featured products – but if staff / visitors are not fully aware the product is available, or are not suitably trained to use them, then there is little point having the technology in the first place. i3 Technologies’ solutions embody the principle that user adoption starts with the user’s desire to want to want to use the facilities and solutions provided.

i3 Technologies has built and developed the broadest range of interactive displays at a range of sizes and a variety of price points. This enables an organisation to turn almost any space into an interactive, collaboration environment. The i3SYNC screen-sharing device launches with a single push of a button and does not require the opening of a .exe file like most similar products on the market today.

Being able to capture, share and access meeting content from any device (phone/tablet/laptop) was a key driver for the development for i3MEETINGHUB. This cloud-based content/collaboration platform facilitates the easy creation and management of content but can work flawlessly with all major UC platforms (ZOOM / MICROSOFT SKYPE 4 BUSINESS / CISCO SPARK). The i3MEETINGHUB has been designed to be accessed from a browser on nearly any operating system ranging from Windows to MAC OS to Android.

As MEETINGHUB is a user-centric each individual user keeps their own info private in their own account. HUDDLE has a reset option which means each session will be removed and wiped clean. The Huddle has easy share option so it is easy to distribute the meeting information before it is wiped. This can be achieved via QR scan to download a pdf, email directly or upload to meeting hub.

i3 have designed the i3SYNC screen sharing device to launch with a single push of a button and does not require to first open a .exe file which differentiates it from most similar products on the market today. This is liked by IT departments as it provides the least intrusive option for their IT infrastructure. i3SYNC also sets up its own secure encrypted Wi-Fi network to allow the receiver and transmitter to communicate with each other without reliance on any corporate or guest network.

i3SYNC is wireless so offers easy setup and sharing to take place seamlessly, allowing up to 3 presenters to share content on a single panel. As the i3SYNC does not encroach on the IT network this provides a benefit of less calls to a company’s IT team for support.
Also available from A+K, the Evoko Liso room manager can be closely integrated with the i3 meeting room technology and standard calendar applications. Its physical presence in the building is revealed with a bright right 8-inch OLED touch display. It has an RFID / NFC Reader built-in, a proximity sensor and wi-fi connectivity. Users can see what is installed in the room. Importantly, the solutions is compatible with Office 365, Exchange and Google docs, with remote set up & management via the EVOKO Home Portal, a browser-based administration portal to centrally and remotely manage EVOKO Liso Displays.

A recent innovation, from A+K parent RedstoneConnect is OneSpace Link This is a Microsoft Outlook Plug-In for meeting room management. The plug-In provides advanced booking features all within the MS Outlook calendar ‘invite window’ and is compatible with Office 365 and Exchange, adding a new level of sophistication. Users can manage multiple sites, floors and departments through a highly graphical interface, with visual floorplans to see availability and location. Users can search for availability and book by room name, location, capacity and equipment, and order bookable resources such as flipcharts or portable display equipment. They can manage cost centre allocations and authorisation levels, and enjoy comprehensive reporting for occupancy analysis, cost centre and supplier management. This SaaS platform -charged per room, per month.

OneSpace Link is a convenient tool for booking and managing meeting rooms and resources within an organisation, but a full implementation of OneSpace, says RedstoneConnect, can do much more, if required. For example, IoT software and physical sensors can be deployed as part of a space utilisation study or for continual monitoring resulting in complete management and control of meeting resources.

Also available from A+K, the Evoko Liso room manager can be closely integrated with OneSpace meeting room technology

Visualising the enterprise:

Crestron

When Crestron Fusion was first announced it was an on-premise tool for monitoring and managing the resources of a corporation or campus. The new Cloud Edition delivers similar benefits of enterprise management, without the physical investment or responsibility.

The Cloud Edition means that performing enterprise management no longer requires enterprise-grade expertise in installation, hosting, and maintenance – or a large enterprise. The latest release of Crestron Fusion available as a traditional software download or pre-loaded on a rack server, and, for the first time, as a private cloud service managed by Crestron, introduced the 3-dimensional Fusion InSite.

So, in brief, Crestron Fusion Cloud Edition delivers all the benefits of enterprise management without the responsibilities of managing additional servers on the corporate network. Fusion InSite provides facilities managers with interactive, real-time 360-degree, 3D visualization of entire buildings across the enterprise and the status of the individual spaces within them, making it easy to visualise the physical plant.

“3D visualization isn’t just amazingly cool, it’s also an amazingly powerful tool for enterprise management. Managers will be able to see the entire building and manage it, as they never have before.,” said Fred Bargetzi, Crestron CTO.

3D Fusion InSite. Now, in addition to the hierarchical list of rooms and the technology in them, a click on the new Fusion InSite tab provides managers with complete 360-degree 3D visualization of the entire corporate campus.

 

And that’s just the beginning, says Bargetzi. Users can then “drill down” to view each building on the campus, each floor in the building, each room, and all the technology in the rooms. They can check the status of and control devices in the room, such as occupancy or daylight sensors, turn lights on or off, and view lighting levels and set room scenes – and perform all these functions anytime, anywhere, with Crestron Fusion Cloud Edition.

Managers can view all occupied or vacant rooms, as well as rooms that are booked, but vacant, so they can be released for use, increasing productivity in the process. Lights can be turned off in vacant rooms, reducing energy consumption.

Hosted on a dedicated, private server, and employing standard security protocols, Crestron Fusion Cloud Edition is always “on” and available to you no matter where you are. Simply enter the unique URL and host name to access all the power and functionality of the application, just as if it resided on the network in your building. Optional multiple, redundant servers are available for additional backup security.

“Until now, enterprise management software needed enterprise support to install and maintain – you needed to engage database and IT staff to install it on datacentre computers in addition to managing the network infrastructure and connectivity with your own servers,” said Glen Marianko, Technology Manager, Enterprise Solutions at Crestron. “Now, with Crestron Fusion Cloud Edition, we host and manage Crestron Fusion for you. Your connection to the Internet is all that’s needed.”

Crestron Fusion empowers knowledge workers to view room availability and book spaces on the spot using a scheduling touch screen at the room entrance. Managers can use Crestron Fusion to streamline help desk operations and perform preventative maintenance on every AV device in the room, ensuring maximum uptime and productivity. Crestron Fusion also provides valuable analytics and reporting of real-time and historical energy usage, enabling organizations to make intelligent and informed energy saving decisions.

Crestron Fusion empowers knowledge workers to view room availability and book spaces on the spot.

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