Traditional meetings where colleagues get together around the boardroom table are no longer a necessity. Today, workers are able to meet digitally, share and confer while in completely different locations, thanks to digital technology.
But without the right setup, what should be a time-saving, productivity-enhancing development instead becomes a drain on resources. Teams are forced to struggle with poor call quality, the wrong connectors for their devices or a low-resolution display screen that means they can’t share the content they want to at the quality they need.
Fortunately, many companies are noticing the fact that poor technology implementation means frustrated teams and wasted hours and so they’re moving to choose the right technology to help with multi-site meeting collaboration and allow teams around the world to be more productive.
The answer to the problem of connecting teams in sites around the world is twofold: you need the right software and the right hardware. The global trend towards remote working has seen the big technology players expand their offerings wherever possible and on the software front there are plenty of options to choose from that won’t break the bank, such as Skype and Google Hangouts.
Unfortunately call quality is not always reliable; a bit of a problem if the European team are trying to discuss a sensitive deal with a client in China or implement detailed changes based on feedback from a designer in the US.
That said if your team work with remote freelancers or smaller businesses it’s worth making these options available to ensure you can connect with your suppliers and your team on the go, as they are very widely used.
At enterprise level, Skype actually has a lot going for it on the call quality side of things too, allowing you to find contacts, schedule meetings through Outlook and conference with up to 250 people at a time (what a conference call that would be!). Attendees can all join easily through the device of their choice, be it a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Google’s alternative to Skype is Hangouts and it’s growing in popularity with the uptake of the Google suite of cloud software, including Google Mail and Drive. Hangouts also fits into the existing digital infrastructure nicely, making collaboration between employees – wherever they’re based – as simple as starting a conversation with a colleague in the office.
Let’s solve the audio problem first. If you’re trying to use any of the common conferencing software tools through a laptop microphone and webcam, quality is not going to be up to much. But a lot can change with the right hardware in place.
Enter the Logitech Group Kit. Rather than trying to configure multiple elements of a videoconferencing setup, Logitech decided to team up with Intel and create a full solution all pre-configured to deliver optimum performance.
The bundle includes a wireless touch keyboard, omni-directional speakerphones, high quality HD video with a 90 degree field of view and an Intel NUC unit to bring it all together. Best of all, it’s already setup up to work with the popular conferencing and collaboration applications so no problem if you want to keep working with Skype but take the quality up a notch or 10.
The 90 degree field of view from the camera is also worth noting, along with the flexibility provided by a smooth pan and tilt control so everyone can see and be seen. Extra functionality like this might not seem that important, but when you’re talking through that all-important deal with an overseas office and everything goes without a hitch, almost as if you’d flown the entire team over for a meeting - the difference becomes apparent very quickly.
Getting the right audio visual in place is the first challenge for effective multi-site meetings. Then to really help boost collaboration, add easy content sharing technology as well, so that everyone can see the business material under discussion.
It’s a laborious task for physically present individuals to have to swap their devices in and out of a single connection to the screen. They’ve probably all got something to share, forcing everyone on the other end of the call to wait until the right cable has been found for that iPhone 6 that someone insists on using to share their work.
Wireless collaboration solutions offer another way. These devices are becoming a staple of any modern meeting room – and with good reason. Systems like Barco ClickShare allow multiple users to connect at the click of a button (or the tap of a smartphone app) and view information on the shared display with ease.
But for multi-site meetings, Montage by DisplayNote might have the edge. This particular tool has the added bonus of enabling users to connect from remote locations using the Chrome web browser to share their content on the meeting room screen as well. This opens up the possibilities for multi-site meeting collaboration even further.
Using technology to enhance multi-site collaboration will bring many benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity for you and your team but the best solutions take time and careful consideration to plan. Talk to your team and find out how they are collaborating now and look at where the shortfalls in your existing setup are.
If you’re exploring options for your business, the experts at DisplayPoint will be happy to advise.