2017 – the year of the huddle space

NEC’s InfinityBoard solution – a custom fit collaborative meeting room experience which perfectly fits the needs of today’s huddle spaces.

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he average employee spends 5.4 hours a week in meeting rooms and 3.1 hours a week joining meetings remotely via audio, web or video conferencing solutions. In Europe, over 50% of meeting rooms are located in small and micro size companies with 45% of addressable rooms seating 6 people or less. 2017 will see an amalgam of affordable hardware solutions, cloud infrastructure and business case that will see the market for huddle spaces go into overdrive. So, is now the time to invest?

Only a couple of years ago, conferencing through the cloud was an early-adopter trend. Today, it’s the cornerstone of collaboration technologies for most businesses, said Andy Nolan, Vice President UK, Ireland and Northern Europe at Lifesize. Over the last year, we have seen on-premises deployments dying and a huge increase in integrated Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud-based conferencing solutions. Many organisations that have adopted this technology see immediate benefits – an “instant-on service” and quick adoption process that enables them to communicate seamlessly with colleagues, customers and partners alike.

 

Essential elements

Huddle spaces are designed to facilitate spontaneity between meeting participants, they enable seamless collaboration to benefit from the synergy of collective talent, connecting people whether they are in the same room or located across the world. Users of the Huddle Room need to create and share ideas in a space which facilitates their needs with technology designed for interactivity, collaboration, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and video conferencing, explains Wolfgang Haunschild, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe. An essential feature of huddle space technology is that they it is easy and intuitive to set up and operate.

Huddle spaces are designed to be less formal and more relaxing, a style which will foster greater creativity and inspire originality. The multi-usage possibilities of such a space give companies a higher booking rate which leads to a better ROI for the equipment: “Giving employees creative tools and an inspiring meeting room atmosphere, companies can directly benefit from the ideas and working results which motivated, collaborating employees will generate”, Daniela Dexheimer, product manager solutions, marketing & business development at NEC Display Solutions Europe. “Within the next 3 years the number of interactive displays in meeting rooms will increase by about 30% per year, whilst the number of meeting rooms will increase by just 8%,” [Futuresource April 2016].

Based on these figures, future meeting rooms will provide much more capability then simply just presenting; there is indeed a clear trend towards huddle apace scenarios.

Solution choices

Increased productivity is one of the key criteria by which companies are measured and this will become increasingly important in the future. By providing employees with an efficient working infrastructure and through consideration of their work-life balance, companies are seeking ways to achieve greater productivity in the work place.

With this in mind, more and more companies are moving towards an increasingly decentralised working behaviour like home offices, ‘on the move’, and working groups shared over different locations. Giving them the right tools for productive collaboration, huddle room scenarios are the preferred choice for meetings.

Typically, huddle spaces are designed for meetings of up to 5 people, often a smaller meeting room where a display size of 65” is ideal. Mid-sized meeting rooms, with 5-15 participants, can also be utilised as a huddle room, but a display size of 84” would be more appropriate. Overall, your shopping list for a huddle space might include:

  1. 65” or 84” touch display with Ultra HD resolution: (UHD) delivers pixel-free viewing even for short distances e.g. when using the touch functionality.
  2. Loudspeakers: Video conferencing requires appropriate audio speaker quality to allow meeting participants sitting farthest away from the display to benefit from the conference.
  3. Wireless presenting capability: Allowing meeting participants to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) to the meeting and enjoy hassle free wireless presenting and sharing of information.
  4. Whiteboarding tool: Using stylus and finger touch to create and document creative information with the whiteboarding tool and store/share the result on the fly.
  5. Microphones: Each room design requires individual consideration as to the best microphone solution to best fit to the acoustics in the room.
  6. Video camera: For video conferencing, an appropriate camera needs to not only show the person in front of the display, but also all the other meeting participants sitting in the room, to achieve the most efficient visual result.
  7. Conferencing tool: There are many different conferencing solutions available, with Skype for Business and WebEx being among the most popular. Companies already using a conferencing solution within their business often benefit from utilising their already implemented tools in their huddle spaces as well.
  8. Trolley or wall mount solutions: Depending on the meeting room design, a fixed wall mounted solution or a mobile trolley might work better. A wall mounted version has the advantage in terms of its slim dimensions, maximising the space in a smaller meeting room. A mobile trolley however offers added flexibility allowing the huddle room display solution to be moved to different rooms. For both scenarios, a height adjustable mounting is important to ensure the ideal height for interacting with the display or adjusting to eye level for video conferencing.
  9. Slot in PC: We highly recommend a modular, integrated PC-based solution to reduce the amount of cables and potential for failure. In this way, a company can preload the display with standard elements, for exam[;e a company logo, or have the entire content managed by the in-house IT department. The slot-in PC can be easily replaced should a failure occur or if, in the future, a more powerful processor is required, it can simply be swapped out and upgraded.
  10. Software: A variety of installable software allows users to adjust their huddle room solution to meet their needs, and profit from software licence already implemented.

Touchscreen choices

Early in 2017, the major AV and UC trade shows will see the launch of a number of new touchscreen options for huddle space applications. NEC Display Solutions. for example, is soon to launch its InfinityBoard solution, a custom fit collaborative meeting room experience which perfectly fits the needs of today’s huddle spaces.

InfinityBoard is designed to allow meeting participants to get started immediately with intuitive and easy operation, whilst perfectly fulfilling a company’s need for a powerful and scalable workspace. Video conferencing, brainstorming, presenting, reviewing, collaborating – whatever the objectives of the meeting, InfinityBoard provides the right platform to perform and achieve results.

Meeting rooms are evolving into multi-usage spaces and NEC’s modular InfinityBoard approach allows a custom fit solution according the company’s needs.  Customers can build the solution from three bundles starting with the ultra-high resolution 65” or 84” display and stylus pen; expand with the whiteboard app, slot-in PC and wireless presenting functionality; then add video conferencing capability with a camera and speakers.

Effective utilisation

The idea of a huddle space is that it can be used as an ad hoc resource for spontaneous meetings. Ad hoc does not mean unmanaged, but the management of a huddle space should be intuitive and part of the natural workflow.  Managing the huddle space resources of the company results in more efficient utilisation and therefore an improved Return on Investment.

A number of wireless and wired room and asset management solutions are available that integrate with popular calendar systems. The latest to reach the market is Crestron’s Room Scheduling – described as an invaluable productivity tool for organisations with multiple conference rooms and meeting spaces.

Crestron Scheduling Touch Screens connect directly to Microsoft Exchange and other popular calendaring programs, such as Google Calendar and IBM Notes and allows users to book impromptu meetings on panels outside of rooms, or to search for, and book, spaces based on location, number of attendees, and type of meeting.

The TSW-732 and TSS-752 Room Scheduling Touch Screens have bright LED indicators on the panels clearly visible from long distance. They allow anyone to see if a room is available or in use without walking to each room. Room availability and meeting details are displayed on the 7-inch screen. If the room is available for the amount of time needed, book the room on the fly with just one touch. Alternatively, scroll through the room calendar to confirm upcoming meetings, or find open time slots and book the space for future meetings.

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Crestron’s Room Scheduling – described as an invaluable productivity tool for organisations with multiple conference rooms and meeting spaces.

Crestron Room Scheduling can be either be deployed in the cloud or on-premises. Cloud-based deployment, leveraging Microsoft Azure, is the quickest and easiest way to get up and running, and offers the lowest total cost of ownership. Crestron Room Scheduling in the cloud provides tight integration with Microsoft Exchange 2010 or 2013, Microsoft Office 365 and supports Google Calendar.

Clients can host Crestron Room Scheduling on their own server or virtual machine (VM), which is isolated from external networks. The on-premises solution is compatible with Microsoft Exchange 2010 or 2013, Microsoft Office 365, and supports IBM Notes, CollegeNET, and R25 software.

 

Crestron’s Room Scheduling – described as an invaluable productivity tool for organisations with multiple conference rooms and meeting spaces.

 

 

 

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