meeting room technology

Only slightly less elusive than a needle in a haystack – How to choose the right meeting room solution

by Tom D'Arcy

These days, researching and selecting the right meeting room technology can be a formidable task. For starters, there's the broad spectrum of cost to contend with; solutions can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000 for immersive enterprise systems. In addition, the number of solutions available can feel confusing and overwhelming when it comes time to sit down and compare the features and benefits. And finally, like many of the IT investments, there's the existing legacy equipment to consider, which sometimes leads to a patched-together meeting room solution that works, but not always optimally.

All of these factors present significant obstacles to choosing the right system. However, there are also costs associated with getting by with obsolete or lagging meeting room technology: lower productivity due to the time spent struggling with older solutions, searching for files to share and gathering information that aids in smart decision making. At the end of the day, this all adds up to a sizable loss of productivity and efficiency.

Distill the selection process into finite steps

Or, in other words, eat the elephant one bite at a time. Gartner recently broke down the meeting room selection process into two main steps¹:

1. Analyze your business needs for meeting room solutions by examining the current and future needs of your digital workforce – keeping in mind that meeting room solutions are typically in use for years so they should be able to accommodate future enterprise needs and growth.

2. Then align the four types of meeting room solutions with your company's meeting requirements by “matching evolving activity-based work and team collaboration needs to available options"²

First and foremost, it's critical to understand that there are various types of both meetings and meeting spaces. So it's usually better to assemble a solution portfolio than to search for a one-size-fits-all system.³

According to Gartner, meeting rooms fall into four categories³:

  • Basic conference rooms – for prearranged meetings for 4 to 24 attendees; feature basic audioconferencing services and participant work surfaces

  • Huddle spaces and private offices – ad hoc meeting spaces that are often added to other facilities; should permit users to gather around content and brainstorm

  • Collaborative project rooms – sometimes called “war rooms," physical rooms (possibly with restricted access) that are dedicated to a team or project for a time period; require both formal presentation space as well as informal meeting areas and should permit the display of lots of information rather than a single presentation

  • Executive briefing facility – larger facilities for formal presentations, low need for collaboration; meetings are usually scheduled and must be able to produce a high-quality appearance and reliable operation of the meeting room solution

When analyzing meeting room solutions, you'll also want to try to future-proof your selection. Ask yourself what physical changes could be in store, how technological advances might impact your choice as well as anticipate any cultural shifts to come, such as reorganizations or enterprise realignments.

Finally, you'll need to determine the who and how. Who will be permitted to initiate meetings? Will it be specific employees, designated departments or all knowledge workers? And how will users be able to schedule, start and participate in these collaborative meetings? At the risk of stating the obvious, strive to choose a simple meeting room solution, one with intuitive steps and straightforward workflows. Ideally, you should also set a goal to deliver consistent experiences regardless of whether users are at their desks, in conference rooms, working remotely on laptops or using their mobile devices while traveling.

The final step: Reap the benefits of streamlined collaboration

Once you have determined what your best meeting room option is, you'll have to roll out education and training to the workforce. (Hint: introducing some gaming elements to the training tends to enliven the process.)

You're finally ready to see just what better collaboration techniques get you. Here's a short list: a significant boost in operational efficiencies (better meetings often leads to fewer meetings), greater opportunities for innovation, the business agility that's necessary to compete in today's cut-throat environment, costs that are easier to manage and drastically improved business outcomes. It's not a stretch to see that better results boost morale and make for happier employees, and happier employees often lead to happier, more satisfied customers.

All that from choosing the right meeting solution.

Ready to learn more?

If you'd like more information on collaborative meeting room solutions, speak to a Ricoh specialist.

Tom D'Arcy is the Workplace Innovation Specialist for Ricoh-USA Enterprise Services. Tom joined Ricoh in January 2017 and has 25+ years of experience providing enterprise-class technology solutions to the Fortune 500. He is engaged in vital sales pursuits, as well as tasked with enhancing the Workplace Service portfolio. Tom is also tasked with gathering the voice of the customer and assuring Ricoh's solutions align with customer business priorities.

  1. 1“Select the Right Technology for Modern Meeting Rooms." March 29, 2017.
  2. 2Ibid
  3. 3Ibid