18 May Your eight-point guide to what you should look for in an interactive whiteboard
Collaboration, knowledge sharing and ensuring that remote and mobile workers can contribute to meetings freely no matter where they are located should, in my view, be the attributes of every organisation that really values the productivity of its people and wants to create an engaging and dynamic environment for them. Achieving these goals must be a real challenge for any organisation that still relies exclusively on equipment that isn’t optimised to cater for digitally enabled ways of working.
Let’s take the meeting room as an example. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to share information with a large group without a projector in the room? People would have to crowd around a laptop, squinting and craning their necks to see over each other’s shoulders to figure out what’s on the screen. It’s not likely to be a great experience and it’s not likely to be the most effective or efficient way to collaborate.
And what about the traditional dry erase whiteboard and the paper-based flip chart? At one point they were considered to be essential tools for sharing ideas in a meeting room. But what happens to the information that has been written on them? And do such traditional equipment really promote knowledge sharing and collaboration in a dynamic and intuitive way, when those who have to dial in remotely won’t be able to see the information on the board or the paper-based flip chart, let alone be able to add their thoughts to either one of them?
I think these types of equipment were great in their day but I’m not sure if they really offer the type of flexible and interactive experience that is ideal for today’s world of work.
Meetings and meeting rooms should be places in which we discuss ideas that help our organisation to become ever more responsive to the needs of customers and other stakeholders. They should be places in which we let our insights create and shape innovative products and solutions that enhance productivity. But how can we focus on such issues when the information from our meetings cannot be stored, managed and shared easily because it has been recorded on a paper flipchart or a dry erase whiteboard and needs to be converted into a digital format before it can be shared and stored?
The good news is that the interactive whiteboard can help to transform the meeting room into a digitally connected, engaging and cost effective forum for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Mobile workers can connect into the meeting room remotely from a PC or a smart device, saving on costly and time-consuming travel. Meeting notes can be captured and distributed by simply hitting the save, email or print function.
The interactive whiteboard’s flexibility can help to free people to focus on the content of their meetings rather than how they can capture and circulate it among colleagues.
Here are my top eight suggestions to consider when choosing an interactive white board for your meeting room:
- Ease of Use – This should be a key consideration. For example, can you switch it on quickly and easily? Does it have a basic tool bar with a list of commands that is easy to understand and use?
- Pen or Touch for content creation – A pen can offer control and accuracy for inputting complex information, or when you’re working on a professional document.
- Save, Email & Print – Think about your requirements. Will you need an interactive whiteboard that allows you to save, email and print easily?
- Remote Meetings – Does it allow you to connect to another meeting room in another location without you having to leave the room? Can you connect a webcam or video conferencing system to it and make face-to-face contact with other participants? How many people working from home or offsite can connect to the board at any time? It may be helpful to find out if you need an additional server or whether you can buy a one-off connection.
- Connectivity – Some interactive whiteboards may have applications such as Microsoft’s Office already installed while others may allow you to connect your PC or smart device to use an application.
- Size – Consider the optimal size for all your needs. The board needs to be sufficiently large to ensure good visibility but you should balance that requirement with the amount of space a large screen is likely to take up in the meeting room. In addition, consider whether you would like your board to be mounted, or if you would like it to have a stand so that it can be moved from one location to another.
- Cost – Choosing on price alone may not always result in the best buy. Identify the features and functionality that best suit your organisation’s requirements to ensure that you get what you need rather than buying a product that may limit your options or create additional costs in the future.
- Support and maintenance – The importance of including after sales support and maintenance in your selection criteria can sometimes be overlooked when choosing an interactive whiteboard. Make sure you assess the various options available to you from the outset of your discussion with your supplier.