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Organizations are in the midst of a workspace revolution. With 77 percent of private offices unoccupied, and 60 percent of desktop workstations idle, it is no surprise that organizations are rethinking space allocation. Changes in workflow and workspace are resulting in increased attention to utilization and productivity through smaller conference rooms and huddle spaces. Throughout this evolution, the importance of audiovisual technology to facilitate collaboration becomes indispensably critical.


Many organizations leverage audiovisual and information technology (AV/IT) convergence to maximize efficiencies, leading to an increased emphasis on collaboration, innovation, and creativity. As the workspace continues to evolve, organizations drive their meeting room decisions based on user satisfaction and workspace needs.


The Bad Reputation of Meeting Rooms Prevents Productivity

Technology in conference rooms has a long-standing reputation for being cumbersome, confusing, and unproductive. Audiovisual difficulties—such as complicated or incorrect video conference setup, difficulties sharing content, or confusion with software—inhibit users from streamlined, collaboration sessions, leading to discouragement. In the most extreme circumstances, unintuitive technology can deter use altogether.


On average, employees spend eight hours a week in meetings, with senior executives in highly collaborative industries spending 17 hours a week in meetings. In a study run by Ovum and LogMeIn, 1 in every 5 meetings starts 10-15 minutes late. That time adds up: in a year, average employees waste three business days and senior executives lose over two weeks’ worth. In a medium-size enterprise, this leads to over $5.3 million wasted in idle meeting time every year.


It’s not just managers, executives, and project teams that suffer. When embarrassment and anxiety about conference room technology sets in, users call the IT team to save the day. As the unsung heroes of an organization, the IT team strains to provide the necessary conference room support for users in an ever-evolving meeting room climate, costing organizations more than they realize. IT’s time solving simple conference room issue detracts from their larger goals, which impacts overall company success. When IT leadership protects their critical resources, the entire organization evolves into an empowered workforce to drive overall company goals.


Meeting Room Trends Impact Support Strategies

Remote, flexible, mobile workforce collaborating

Today’s workforce isn’t tethered to an office or strict work hours. The evolving flexible, mobile, and agile workforce collaborates with teams from a variety of locations using a variety of devices—laptops in a conference room or mobile devices from home. Studies report 60 percent of meeting attendees join audio, video, or web sessions from a meeting room, while 40 percent are remote. As organizations evolve, the strategy becomes more user-driven. For example, 42 percent of buyers indicate user satisfaction as their primary reason to acquire new web collaboration tools. When users demand streamlined collaboration, IT provides a consistent and integrated experience. 


Of course, such experiences do not happen instantaneously. IT teams extensively research, test, streamline, and resolve a variety of issues to keep technology experiences smooth. Reinforced by Wainhouse Research, IT teams have several key challenges to keep both mobile and traditional users satisfied: 

  • Mobile Challenges. Desktop and mobile users create significant challenges for an IT team to work around. IT teams report that network bandwidth concerns, ability to support, and audio/video quality are the most prominent roadblocks to the best user experience.
  • Traditional Challenges. Due to habit or comfort, users default to standard and traditional methods of collaboration and communication, often using only audio instead of video calls. Compounding the issue is disparate technologies—desktop UC, dedicated video conferencing units, telepresence, and a variety of video solutions—which leads to confusing and complex processes. 


Trainable Disruptions Result in Unnecessary Time 

As IT works to standardize and create a streamlined work environment regardless of user and location, they are consistently asked to solve simple, redundant problems that detract from company goals. In a medium-sized enterprise, IT responds to an average of two incidents per workday relating to meeting room technology. A majority of these issues link back to preventable, trainable disruptions:

  • 63 percent report audio issues

  • 54 percent experience confusion connecting to a display (matching screen resolution, connecting, etc.)

  • 41 percent have trouble selecting the right camera

  • 39 percent experience general connectivity challenges


The unseen cost of not training users to solve these issues is significant. From initial incident to resolution, meetings are disrupted for an average of 31.5 minutes. This leads to thousands of lost dollars’ worth of time spent by the IT team resolving what users could fix in mere minutes per year.


The Real Cost of Relying on IT

IT team helping teammates

From simple daily tasks to the most critical strategic operations, users rely on collaboration technologies to work consistently and smoothly. In fact, successful operation of every department depends on the infrastructure IT puts in place. 


IT is constantly searching for new optimizations to impact workflows and productivity, which ultimately optimize the user experience. In 2015, IT teams across the globe focused on:

  • Improving informational security and user protection

  • Architecting an integrated mobile and cloud-based IT platform

  • Improving processes and automations in data centers and applications

  • Increasing software quality and reliability

  • Developing cloud-based strategy  


Yet, IT teams are continually detracted from these improvement and optimization strategies by resolving simple, preventable, and trainable conference room issues. The belief that technology should intuitively and automatically “just work” pervades the workplace. Users become frustrated when technology does not perform the way they believe it should. Before calling IT for help, some users may attempt to troubleshoot issues themselves or call teammates for advice. By the time IT becomes involved, users are irritated, embarrassed, anxious, and not confident in their ability to solve issues. This feeds future technology avoidance or increases reliance on IT to solve trainable and preventable issues.

With frustrated and anxious users, discouraged meeting participants, detracted IT teams, and wasted time for everyone, it’s no wonder conference rooms have their bad reputation. Not only are organizations losing millions of dollars per year in wasted time, they are losing any forward progress on strategic IT initiatives. The problem may seem daunting, but the solution is simple. Organizations must empower their users and protect their IT team by creating a confident and capable workforce, resulting in maximized efficiencies and minimized lost time and money.


Protect IT and Empower Users to Achieve Self-Sufficiency

Mechdyne managed services

Not only does the expansion of conference rooms increase investment in audiovisual and information technologies (AV/IT), the demand for IT resources rapidly escalates. Organizations need to protect their IT department, technology users, and future AV/IT investments. Users should be confident and empowered to tackle simple, preventable issues on their own. A proactive approach to meeting room management combined with trained and empowered users relieves the IT team to do what they do best: protect their organization’s valuable information, standardize and streamline work environments, and advance company goals through technology integration. The most forward-thinking organizations address these issues with investment in a dedicated managed services team.


Managed services teams contribute to an organization’s success by providing AV/IT support for collaboration spaces, including meeting and conference rooms. Targeted service strategies include technology setup, user training, preventative maintenance, and incident resolution.


Leadership teams have a misguided belief that managed services leads to user dependency for conference room support and is more costly than relying on internal resources. Done correctly however, managed services teams move an organization to self-sufficiency through support, training, and user enablement. For the last ten years, Mechdyne Corporation’s technical services team has helped organizations empower users to achieve self-sufficiency without allocating IT resources on the day-to-day work of keeping conference room technology operational. It doesn’t start and end with the IT team – success is achieved by focusing on the user. 


“Managed services support is not static – it’s all about the user first, and the technology second,” says Mechdyne’s global technical services manager, Matthew McKaig. “As users become more knowledgeable, the support needs change and organizations progress. We help organizations thoroughly understand workflows, increase utilization, optimize meeting room expectations, and minimize technology downtime.”


Over time, organizations begin to see the accrued benefits and value to this approach:

  • Incident resolution leads to training and teaching moments for users

  • A streamlined process quickly fixes disruptions

  • Room, equipment, and user metrics drive continuous quality improvement

Mechdyne is a broad-based technology provider specializing in AV and IT technologies, visualization and software solutions, immersive technologies, and technical support services. Through our managed services program, we help clients empower users and protect their IT team. "When Mechdyne's managed services team is involved," says McKaig, "IT leadership looks like superheroes."


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References

  • Absalom, R. and Drury, A. (2014). Death of the web conference (as we know it). Ovum and LogMeIn.
  • Haskins, B., Nilssen, A., and Davis, A. (2013). The evolution of the conference room and the technology behind it. Wainhouse Research, Whitepaper (October 2013).
  • HermanMiller. Making real estate work harder: Aggregated data, trends, and examples. Herman Miller Space Utilization Services.

  • Key themes for 2015 (2016). Retrieved from http://www.ovum.com/infrastructure-solutions/
  • The meeting room marathon – A waste of corporate time. Dynamic Markets Limited (July 2010).


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