A while back, I wrote an article on the issues people face when bringing mobile devices into the conference room. It’s a tricky subject, and one that can cause a lot of issues if the room isn’t appropriately equipped to accommodate the mobile device. Whether you are dealing with “true” BYOD (where employees are using their personal devices in the business environment) or simply a situation where employees bring their company-issued laptop into the conference room, the system needs to be ready to handle it.
Why We Need PCs
However, no matter how well-equipped a BYOD-ready room is, if the employee doesn’t have a device to bring, they can’t do anything with the technology unless the room also provides some means of accomplishing the various things that employees do during a meeting without a separate device.
So what do employees do with technology during a meeting? Here are a few of them:
As you can see, most of these can be done using a PC. That’s why laptops are popular to bring to a meeting. With a laptop, you can give a presentation, share a document, use the internet and share photos and images. Collaborating from multiple devices at once might be a bit harder, but with the right software even that is technically possible.
Why We Need a Dedicated Device
However, there are still a number of situations where employees can’t use their laptops or mobile devices during a meeting. For starters, some employees may not use a laptop or have a tablet. Whether it’s due to corporate policy, personal preference or the unique computing requirements of certain positions, not everyone who uses the conference room has a work-issued laptop or tablet. Even when employees do have a device, they can sometimes be reluctant to use them. Having popups for personal emails and other notifications on the big screen during the meeting can be annoying or embarrassing. Furthermore, moving from having your screen configured for individual work to setting up for a meeting can be intrusive, causing employees to be hesitant to close tabs and documents for things they were previously working on. Whatever the reason, there will still be situations where employees need to have some way to perform the actions I listed above without having a laptop or mobile device handy to use.
Problems with Room PCs
The traditional answer to this issue has been the room PC. By installing a dedicated PC in the room, this ostensibly solves the issue for those employees that can’t “BYOD.” IT departments ensure these machines have the software needed to do everything on my list (except perhaps the multi-device collaboration bit), and thus give the appearance of checking off most of the requisite boxes. However, actually doing any of those things during a meeting is often much harder than it needs to be, because IT departments typically just install a standard IT image on the machine, do some basic configuration and then leave it at that.
PCs in Conference Rooms Waste Your Time
The underlying issue is that the PC operating system has a user interface designed for a single user who sits directly in front of the display and works at that same machine for several hours during the day. In a conference room, a different employee uses the machine every hour or so. Every time a meeting starts, the new user must log into the room PC using their corporate credentials. This creates a new user profile on that PC, which takes time to create and takes up space on the machine. After that, the user profile loads, which can take several minutes, wasting time out of the employees’ workday and wasting company money.
PCs in Conference Rooms Are Hard to Use
After the PC finally loads, the user can access their files or join their web conference. Unfortunately, on a room PC in a conference room, this is easier said than done. The user is now sitting several feet from a very large screen that is often on a wall facing sideways from them. As I said, the interface was designed for a single user sitting 18 inches from the screen. Because the interface wasn’t really designed for a meeting room application, using these machines during a meeting often involves a lot of squinting, half-turning and muttering of things like “What does that say?” and “Can anyone see the cursor?”
PCs in Conference Rooms are Not Secure
When the meeting ends, the user logs out and shuts down the AV system. At least, that’s what happens on a good day. Other times, the employee walks out without logging off or shutting down, leaving easy access into the user’s email and other areas. This presents a lot of exposure not only to people outside the company who may be in the building, but also to employees who may not have authorization to access certain sensitive information. Even on a good day, if the previous user downloaded anything but didn’t delete it before they left, that information could easily be accessed by someone else, even if they log in using a different profile.
Imagine a meeting taking place discussing employee salaries or an upcoming, unannounced acquisition or partnership. This information shouldn’t fall into the hands of employees who don’t have permission to access it, but in a conference room setup like this one, that is all too possible. Such an incident can not only cause potential disruption in the workplace, but could also have real legal implications.
Fast, Safe and Easy to Use Communication Platform
Thankfully, there is an alternative. The AMX Acendo Core business communication platform has been designed specifically for meeting room applications. First and foremost, this means the interface has been designed to be readable and easy to use on a large-format display in a meeting space. Icons are large and readable and the layout is focused on making it quick and easy to perform all of those meeting room actions I mentioned.
As well, the meeting startup process has been dramatically simplified. Users walk into the room and see any scheduled meetings shown right on the display, so they know they are in the right room. The user opens a new session to easily start the meeting, and the interface loads quickly without the need to login or create custom profiles. If a videoconference is scheduled in the room, that can also start at the press of a button. Users can even wirelessly connect devices, with up to four devices able to be displayed on the screen at a single time. Then, when the meeting ends, the user ends the session, which deletes any downloaded files, providing privacy and security.
With the AMX Acendo Core, conducting a meeting without bring a device into the room is dramatically simplified. Meetings start on time, end on time and run smoothly in between.
To learn more about how AMX Acendo improves meetings, watch this video:
Do you have insights into providing an improved experience over a room PC? Share them in the comments.