Content Sharing Technologies Making Huge Strides
Part 2: Accelerating Your Real-Time Collaboration Capabilities
In my last blog I shared one of the technologies that I came across at InfoComm that can help accelerate your corporate collaborative eco-system. Array Telepresence’s technology is ideal for companies who are already realizing the benefits of real-time collaborative technology and want to enhance the experience without having to refresh their entire room system investment.
The other theme that came across very strongly at InfoComm was the range of new solutions for in-room content sharing. This type of technology isn’t new, but this is the year where it seems just about all the major manufactures and some of the niche players are now offering this type of technology.
In-Room Content Sharing
I am excited about how these content sharing technologies are re-shaping meeting room technologies. Why? Because:
- Any company can add this technology to their room(s) and see a big benefit, even if they are just getting started
- Some of these solutions are extremely easy to use – so your users will actually use them
- This technology can be used for 100% of the meetings you have in your meeting rooms – In-room only meetings and for meetings where remote participants are connecting into the meeting
- When this technology is used it accelerates collaboration in the meeting
- In-room content sharing can be added to most rooms without doing a 100% forklift of the existing technology
But let’s take a step back for a moment to get a clearer understanding of what this type of technology is and what the technology does.
The word “Collaboration” is used to describe way too many tools that are part of a collaborative eco-system but do not define collaboration itself. Many of the vendors are calling their content sharing technology “collaboration technology”. But content sharing is only one aspect of collaboration and only for real-time collaboration.
Secondly, the vendors of these solutions are focused on the “In-room” sharing of content and calling that collaboration, whereas other suppliers of tools like video conferencing say that you are only collaborating when you are doing it with people in different places.
Both camps are facilitating real-time collaboration and are a part of what real-time collaboration can be, but neither of them is itself a definition of collaboration.
Let’s take a look at what I mean by “In-room Content sharing”.
This video by Barco ClickShare highlights many of the common problems associated with displaying your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile phone screen (content) in a meeting room.
ClickShare provides a simple yet effective solution to overcoming these problems.
But is this just marketing hype?
Passing the Toughest Test
The ultimate testing environment for this type of technology solution is in a meeting room that constantly has new users in it. So the users never “get used to the technology”. If it is really effective, then a constant stream of new users should be able to effectively use the system for their meetings. The ultimate proving ground would be a hotel meeting room, which is rented out to new users all the time.
Below the hotel facilities staff from the Marriot Hotel in Munich give us their opinion on the Barco ClickShare system.
I am highlighting the Barco ClickShare solution because it was one of the first to market and it stands up to the usability test in even the harshest conditions – the hotel meeting room. But there are more and more content sharing solutions for meeting rooms coming to the market and it can be a little confusing. These content sharing solutions do different things and use different technologies to accomplish their tasks.
We at the ET Group have taken a crack at comparing some of the different solutions to see how they differ in function and price. To download our Content Sharing Technology Comparison Table click here.
If you download the table you will see that the MSRP of the content sharing solutions varies from $500 to $5,000+, and the technology approach they use can be quite different.
In-room content sharing can certainly increase the speed at which meeting participants get a meeting started and start collaborating on content. Let’s face it – the vast majority of content that is shared in a meeting is coming from a personal device and often times more than just one person’s device. If you get a solution that works for you for $500, that isn’t a huge investment, but if you get the more expensive solutions it isn’t as easy to just dive in; now you have to justify the investment.
Here is what I’m seeing in terms of cost justification factors:
- Ease of Use
- Reduces implementation costs by eliminating wiring and coring
- Faster meeting start times
- Enterprise management
Ease of Use
This is the #1 thing that people are asking for in all technology. If the technology is indeed easy to use, people will use it and you will get the benefit of accelerating the velocity of collaboration in your organization. Organizations that collaborate better outperform their peers by 3 to 6 times.
Note: Not all the solutions listed in the free download are equally easy to use. In customer tests of several of them, including the $500 low cost solution from Qomo, the ClickShare seems to be the favorite. The low cost solution from Qomo has a lot of the same functionality but it needs software loaded on the personal devices to work with the unit and that software does not come from the manufacturer. Not as simple as just Plug & Go. It also seems to have a delay in getting the content displayed. It probably does not have as powerful a processor in it and that delay frustrates users. So be careful on going for the lowest cost solution.
Reduced Implementation Cost
These wireless solutions do not require cables to run to the table. That has a significant implication. In some cases these units will pay for themselves by eliminating the need to do floor coring to run cables that would be buried in the floor. At a minimum the cost of the cables and the labour required to set up the cables will be greatly reduced and in some cases eliminated.
And as an added benefit the unsightly cables which are often found on tables and floors in meeting rooms are eliminated.
Faster Meeting Start Times
Starting your meeting faster saves time and time is money. If the technology in the room “just works” then the people in the meeting can focus on the reason they are meeting versus trying to get the technology to work. If you save an average of 2 minutes per meeting in a meeting room as a result of implementing an easy to use content sharing system, then you will save about $15,000/yr.
That one year saving is double the cost of the most expensive units! This factor alone would justify the In-room content sharing technology. (See this past blog for the formula for saving time in meeting start up)
Adding in-room content sharing technology to your room system means you have to manage it. Having 1 or 2 may not be a big deal to manage but if you enable 10s, 100s or 1,000s of rooms with them, and the rooms are dispersed globally, then you have to be able to manage them. But the same is true for whatever cables or technology you have in place in those rooms today. Many organizations can’t effectively manage cables that go missing or get disconnected.
Some of the In-Room content sharing solutions also have an Enterprise Management solution that can be used to manage things like microcode releases. The Barco ClickShare has software that allows the organization or their partner AV provider to manage the units centrally. Take a look at this video for a quick overview of ClickShare’s Central Management tool.
Although there is no hard cost justification in branding, it is worth noting that with the ClickShare solution you can replace the default ClickShare screen – shown here, with your own branded image.
This image shows up when the devices are connected but no one is actually sharing content. You can change the screen to have your company branding show instead of the default Barco image above.
If you are in a room that allows content sharing with remote users using a WebEx type of solution or video conferencing content sharing, the remote users will get the full benefit of the content sharing experience. Just as if they were there in the room.
Next Steps for Your Organization
We have had very good customer feedback from customers that have implemented the Barco ClickShare, in-room content sharing system. We are offering a couple of programs for the next little while to help you get started.
- If you are interested in trying out the technology please click here for more details.
- If you would like to come in for a demonstration of the ClickShare system contact us here. Order a system within 30 days of the demonstration you will get special pricing on the pilot unit(s).
So contact us today to increase your organization’s velocity of collaboration!