This blog is part of a series on Collaboration in the Huddle Room. The intent of this blog is to highlight the importance of simplicity for huddle room collaboration. We welcome your perspective and hope you will join us as we continue to explore the broader topic of huddle room productivity.
Are we still chasing simplicity for the huddle room?
The barriers to effective huddle room collaboration have been knocked down, one by one. Cloud-based UC platforms have replaced costly CAPEX infrastructure. Affordable bandwidth is widely available. A/V peripherals continue to hit the market with improved cost/performance characteristics. And, broad support for BYO devices and BYO apps has finally made huddle room collaboration simple. Or has it?
Based on marketing messages from providers of UC devices and services, simplicity is certainly still important to buyers: “We strive to make it simple.” “Easier to deploy and use than the competition.” “Plug-N-Play simple.”
However, the research doesn’t quite reinforce the rhetoric. A Wainhouse study sponsored by Logitech in late 2017 that focused on huddle rooms indicated that what should be simple today still isn’t. With the continued advances in technology starting a meeting should be a no-brainer. Yet, when interviewing typical users of huddle room collaboration, 47% stated that “starting meetings late due to application or equipment issues” was still a major issue. Power users, who we all would expect to have this mastered, were even more frustrated with 61% citing the same issue.
Why the disconnect?
As a company that is purely focused on bringing simple, consistent experiences to the huddle room, we believe there are several key factors.
Organizations are sold solutions from a provider that work very well in homogenous environments. (Color within our lines, and everything will be OK.) This works well when everyone uses the specified A/V gear and a single UC service. But in practice, that’s no longer the reality for the vast majority. The same Wainhouse study indicated that only 30% of organizations are using just a single UC app and 94% of users have multiple conferencing accounts. And, the influence of the growing number of millennials in the workplace (with their broader app use and willingness to quickly flip to another service when not satisfied) is expected to only compound the situation.
Unlike more costly board rooms and larger collaboration spaces with guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs), huddle rooms are often only promised a ‘best effort’ level of service. Simultaneously, the sheer expansion in the number of huddle rooms makes them cost prohibitive to monitor, manage and support with traditional services.
Simplicity in the huddle must also extend beyond the huddle room. While ease of use is critical for end user adoption (which drives utilization and ROI), it’s not enough. To support the massive expansion of huddle rooms, collaboration solutions must offer simplified, turn-key deployment. Plug-n-play devices and quick configuration with UC platforms via in-room wizards and/or remote deployment tools are a must.
Is there any good news for simplicity in the huddle room?
Despite the historic promises, simplicity is still elusive and remains a first-level purchasing influencer. The good news is that this reality has not been lost on everyone. Modern approaches, void of traditional encumbrance to only one brand of hardware or just a single UC platform, are addressing the pain in the market from new perspectives.
Also, new services are entering the market to address the ‘multi-gap.’ Your huddle rooms have A/V devices from multiple vendors. Your users carry multiple BYO devices from multiple vendors, they have multiple calendar invites and want simple connection to their meetings that are spread across multiple UC platforms. Finally, this is possible – and with a consistent user experience across all sessions so switching between devices and UC applications is invisible to the end user.
Fortunately, as well, the cost and complexity to convert a ‘naked’ office into a fully-equipped collaboration huddle room (with voice, video and wireless presentation) has become simpler on the budget, dropping below the much heralded target of $2,000 per room. And, with smarter room software, this price includes data gathering and analytics to ensure readiness, provide monitoring and alerts, and share insightful data on asset utilization and ROI.