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How IoT can power effective meetings

Today’s global enterprises are investing in more group spaces and tools to give knowledge workers the environment they need to work in teams. But, providing the infrastructure alone isn’t enough to ensure productive meetings. One-third of all meetings are considered unproductive — that’s alarming, considering over 25 million meetings are held each day in the United States. Wasted time is a primary culprit, often before the meeting has even started. Microsoft Research suggests that an average delay of eight to 12 minutes occurs between the scheduled start time of meetings and the actual start time.

Any obstacles with scheduling, physically locating rooms, using the AV equipment and setup can all cause significant delays and lost productivity. With more devices connected now than ever before, it’s important to look at specific causes of these obstacles, and how they can be prevented through the internet of things.

Organizing and scheduling

The software used to schedule meetings rarely provides information beyond the number of participants and location. The in-room technology, therefore, must provide the capabilities they need to achieve those goals. For example, if there are remote participants, the room must have video conferencing capability. Scheduling software simply doesn’t provide the meeting organizer with all the information he needs to ensure a successful meeting.

Office spaces tend to be large and sometimes confusing to navigate. During the course of a typical day, workers transition from meeting to meeting. Sometimes the meeting spaces are spread out across multiple floors and buildings. Lacking familiarity with a building or campus enhances their stress level, as they furiously try to find their way. By the time they arrive — if they make it on time — they’re in a harried, frustrated state. This can cause significant cognitive dissonance, which can negatively impact their effectiveness, as well as the effectiveness of the other meeting participants.

Setup time

OK, you’ve made it to the meeting. Now, let’s get this party started! Oh, but wait, you’re having trouble getting the presentation on your laptop up on the room display. You frantically plug and unplug various cables into various ports. You’re crawling around below the conference table. Now you’re really sweating.

This and other “technical difficulties” tend to rear their ugly heads at the worst possible times. Beyond the cost of the wasted time, the delays and disruption are highly frustrating for all meeting participants, further negatively impacting their mental state and effectiveness. This frustration, according to Herman Miller, results in meeting organizers actually avoiding two-thirds of available conference rooms, suggesting only one-third of the spaces are actually fully supportive of their goals for the meeting.

Clearly, there’s a need for technology that addresses these issues.

What’s the solution?

Bluetooth proximity beacons are simple, inexpensive devices that deliver huge IoT capabilities because they enable personal mobile devices to have an awareness of where they are located, bringing the power of GPS-like navigation technology indoors and to an extremely accurate level. Combined with mobile solutions, the technology will pioneer a better approach to meetings. The most advanced and sophisticated technology will allow workers to:

  • Locate available rooms nearby at all times and schedule meetings on the fly, rather than waiting until they return to their desks. This will allow workers to have better control of their schedules.
  • Empower employees with mobile functionality, linked to “smart” rooms. With this access, they’re freed of the all-too-common scheduling and technical bottlenecks that drag down productivity.
  • Access meeting space floor plans along with photos of the inside and outside, and room type, size, and features/ capabilities, so they can be certain they’re booking the right room for their meeting.
  • Host a personalized experience at the start of the meeting — when I walk into a room, the room knows what I’m there for because it’s intelligent, it knows my habits and trends. The presenter can instantly present wirelessly from her smart device, at the touch of a button. When the meeting is concluded, the room knows it’s vacant, and everything automatically turns off, which ensures the security of confidential information.

Tomorrow’s meeting requires fully integrated solutions for managing them. Keep an eye out for more beacon-powered solutions to reduce bottlenecks and better facilitate workflow in the year to come.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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