Meetings and discussions are integral to operations and organizational decision making. However, they are also time-consuming, fragmented, and cumbersome in a fast-expanding paradigm. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review involving 182 senior managers and executives across business verticals and industries to understand the challenges they face with meetings, almost 65% respondents said that meetings kept them from completing their assigned tasks on time. 71% found meetings becoming more inefficient and unproductive over time and 62% respondents felt that the current format of meetings does little to bring teams together.
The common agreement is that meetings must be redefined. With transformed formats, evolving technologies must be augmented with redesigned meeting rooms for higher productivity.
The Challenges of Conventional Meeting Rooms and Current Processes
Gone are the days when all participants of a meeting were expected to be in a single room at one location. As companies expand their operations and outreach, teams and participants are spread out, making it difficult to assemble everyone at a given location.
With the advent of technology, participants assembling for a meeting from multiple locations has become commonplace. Stable telecommunication tools and the internet have made it possible for participants to attend meetings remotely, significantly saving time and resources. However, in the current scenario, we are still heavily reliant on telephones, emails, and meeting software that require a substantial amount of human intervention.
The process of bringing the participants together for an organizational decision making involves a dedicated resource to manually check for participant availability, send out invites, and facilitate the meeting. It also requires a human resource to manually lay down the agenda of the meeting and record the minutes and details discussed. While audio-visual aids have made communication and recording easier, there is still a requirement for manual intervention to make the meetings happen and get the best out of them. As a result, the time taken to schedule these meetings and send out the minutes is longer than it should be. Having a dedicated resource to manage meetings is also not a cost-effective proposition. And finally, perhaps the biggest disadvantage of this process is the possibility of information mismanagement including the failure to capture and/or leakage of vital information.
New-age Meeting Rooms and Smart Processes
The subsequent challenges of conventional meeting rooms and processes have made industry leaders re-evaluate the purpose of these meetings and how they can be conducted in a more efficient manner. To this, emergent technologies are the key enablers of smart meeting rooms. The most notable meeting software that are aiding smart meetings and processes are analytics and automation.
In the digital architype, data is the fuel that keeps industries moving and making businesses more insight driven. When it comes to smart meeting rooms, data plays a crucial role. Collating participant data and analyzing them helps provide meetings a better meaning and perspective. With the help of analytics, the relevant participants and stakeholders are identified. As the possibility of meeting arises, all the data is available for the initiator and with a few clicks, they can schedule a meeting within minutes. Automation uses data-driven insights. It checks the availability of the participants, analyzes their recent work that can add value to the meeting, and sends out invites. Automation tools also keep recording the minutes of the meeting in the background and stores them for future perusal.
As meetings become digitized and processes smarter, redundancies are eradicated, the time taken for meeting management is reduced, manual errors are negated, and the output is standardized across the spectrum. In other words, humans have lesser things to worry about and can focus on more business-critical aspects like decision making.
Meeting Rooms of the Future
Though the meeting rooms have become smarter now and are functioning at a higher level, there is a lot that technologies can facilitate in the immediate future.
AR/VR can help create a spectrum where participants from across the globe can experience connecting with each other in the virtual reality of a meeting room. This will make the experience more immersive and effective.
The key technologies that will pave the path for the future of remote meetings are the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G connectivity, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). As connected devices become smarter, they evolve in their capability to communicate without human intervention and subsequently open new avenues for interpersonal interactions. Connected devices and automation can eliminate human intervention to manage meetings altogether. As connected devices located across geographies communicate with each other, it opens a new spectrum of opportunities for efficient meeting management. IoT will further help make spaces flexible for meetings via connected devices. Since the number of participants will not dictate the need for physical space, a remote meeting can be conducted in a small or big room, depending on the purpose and the apparatus required for the meeting irrespective of the number of participants. Further, AR/VR can help create a spectrum where participants from across the globe can experience connecting with each other in the virtual reality of a meeting room. This will make the experience more immersive and effective.
HCL has envisioned smart meeting rooms where cutting-edge technology solutions can be deployed across disparate teams and geographies. HCL Beehive (HCL’s smart meeting room solution) can aid end users with comprehensive booking solutions, digital canvas, collaboration platform, and proactive control and monitoring of the meeting room equipment to implement smart meetings at workplaces.
With the current pandemic still ongoing, more and more enterprises have resorted to a remote-working model. This is not a temporary trend and will only grow through rapid digital transformation and adoption of modern technologies. As businesses grow, the requirement to collaborate will grow alongside. This clearly signals the widespread adoption of tech innovations to facilitate meeting management and collaboration to grow further in the future.