While there has been some debate both in the media and in organisations about whether the emerging trend of BYOD is it a fad or here to stay, the fact remains that employees are using a multitude of personal devices in the workplace.
This is particularly true of digital natives, many of whom now expect the same level of efficiency and functionality from work devices as they experience from their own, but are not often getting it. This can result in an influx of smartphones, tablets and laptops on to the company network.
Although many businesses have expressed concerns around BYOD, the benefits it offers far outweigh the risks – particularly for smaller organisations with limited IT budgets. These became particularly apparent for driving collaboration in meeting rooms. However, these opportunities may be limited by issues around interoperability.
A typical meeting room technology set-up is comprised of a screen, dedicated laptop or PC and a host of cables, connectors and adapters. Meeting participants that wish to share content stored on their own devices – be it a sales presentation, spreadsheet, or other content – often find it difficult to do so because the available technology is unwieldy or potentially doesn’t support their device.
For smartphones and tablets especially, the difficulty in connecting to and getting content onto the shared screen is a major hindrance to efficiency. Connecting laptops, via cables and connections, can be time consuming and problematic, even when devices are connected successfully machine settings must often be configured and screen resolution tweaked, which frequently requires the intervention of IT support staff.
This all leads to a lot of time wastage prior to or during the meeting, which is likely to have a negative impact upon productivity. What is needed in the meeting room is technology that easily allows smartphones, tablets and laptops to connect to a shared screen – either via wireless, or an app. Indeed a new market segment is emerging to cater for these needs.
However, for true collaboration it’s not enough just to be able to connect to a screen and share content. Many industries also require support for video and audio, but the real value lies in having the option for several people to share the screen at one time.
It is a simple idea but rather more complex in practice because the technology must be capable of supporting different operating systems at the same time, including Android, Windows and iOS. Again, traditional meeting room technology may be able to support these in isolation but collaborating through devices using multiple operating systems requires a specialist bridging technology.
Whether or not BYOD will become an accepted approach is difficult to say and will likely depend on the ethos of individual companies. However, supporting multiple device types using different operating systems can make a workforce more flexible, more effective and more productive.
It is therefore important to have supporting technologies in shared spaces – such as in the meeting room environment – particularly those where both internal and external parties can come together and collaborate for scenarios such as sales meetings, presentations and training, without being held back by technology limitations.