Virtual meetings: the solution to so many problems

Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts on 26 August 2019
Virtual meetings: the solution to so many problems

In a large public campaign, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started asking passengers to think twice about flying, which has a huge impact on the environment. Workplace technology provider Crestron backs this message all the way. 

Many members of the business community fly regularly to attend work meetings and, with air travel currently accounting for around 5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, it’s important to find a solution to minimise the amount people fly. 

With the devastating effects of such intense travelling, one solution for these business people could be to attend meetings over the phone. However, when contributing through only an audio stream, meeting participants can miss out on the crucial non-verbal cues displayed through body language. In addition, we all know how much easier it is to collaborate on a document when you are all looking at the same thing, rather than having different versions circulating and losing track of the final document. 

It is no wonder that one third of today’s meetings are virtual, and this number is on the rise. However, 85% of business meeting rooms are not yet video enabled. For a long time, we could blame this on an unreliable internet connection and expensive start-up costs, but continuous investments have made the internet faster and more stable, while and cloud-based solutions have made hardware investments more affordable. Consequently, it is time to look at the core of the issue. 

While many audiovisual products that are needed for virtual meetings are reliable and perform well, they often cause more issues for the IT manager than those that they solve. They are often not scalable, take a lot of effort to deploy, and give a different user experience in each meeting room. Instead of technology working for the user as it should, the user must work hard to get any benefit from the solution.  

As a result, an IT manager typically faces 447 incidents with meeting room technology each year, walking over 41 kilometres to deal with them. Unsurprisingly, this wastes a significant amount of company time and money. 

Consequently, the technology is now evolving to provide a serviceable and scalable user experience, switching from a specific device in every meeting room to a cloud-based video conferencing solution. Revolutionary internet of things-based deployment and management platforms reduce installation time drastically, simplify and speed up configuration and updates, allow remote monitoring, and gather data to optimise space and technology. Ultimately, the technology is finally supporting how people work. 

Crestron XiO Cloud, for instance, allows users to provision equipment such as phones (with or without Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams integration), tabletop devices and soundbars before you even receive it. The IT department need only plug in the material, giving them more time to focus on their core tasks. 

Does that mean that face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past? Of course not. But while virtual conferencing might not be able to replace the relationship building that takes place during after-hours dinners and drinks, it has reached a level that is comparable to onsite meetings. So why not handle the first stages of an engagement or project in person and then schedule follow-up meetings virtually? Or at least, as KLM advises, why not think twice before you hop on the plane?

Stijn Ooms is the technology director at Crestron Europe

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