Wireless presentation systems were supposed to transform meetings, classrooms, and other group spaces from dull to dynamic. We were promised a world of better ideas, facilitated by smarter systems. We were lured by the promise of fewer – and more productive – meetings. Outliers would speak up and add value. Groupthink would be reduced.
But that’s not what happened.
Most of these systems are just AV presentation systems without wires. They might promise collaboration, but they don’t deliver it and often prevent it. There’s a gulf of difference between wireless presentation and wireless collaboration.
Let’s look at a few key differences — as well as some ways to move beyond wireless presentation and into wireless collaboration.
Presentation is static. Collaboration is dynamic.
Whether used in-room or remotely, most wireless presentation systems fail at their stated missions of getting people to work together more efficiently and fluidly. Clumsy user interfaces, unfamiliar (and often too many) options, poor reliability, and ever-changing hardware and software requirements all get in the way of actual thought and actual work. Let’s not forget compatibility, either. Does your iOS device work with this system? What about the consultant who is joining the meeting and is using an Android? Can you even let the consultant on your system?
When so much of your cognitive real estate is occupied by contorting your workflow to match your system’s workflow, getting the simplest tasks done can be difficult. Collaboration? Forget it. That’s a lofty goal to reach when one is forever stuck in the weeds. It just makes sense that your wireless collaboration system should be a natural extension of how you and your team already work, but that’s not often the case.
Because many wireless presentation systems allow only one user at a time to share content, they effectively centralize control. Some further require users to pass a dongle or a clicker back and forth to share content. Not only does this add time to the meeting; it adds complication and potential error. What participants get instead of engagement is a very expensive substitution for the already-ineffective talking head model of meetings – and that facilitates groupthink. Groupthink isn’t just bad for diversity of ideas and morale; it affects the bottom line of even the mightiest companies if left unchecked.
So, what would wireless collaboration look like in contrast?
- Every team member can contribute content — and without limitations on pieces of content per user or total content shared
- No one is “in charge” (unless the meeting needs a moderator)
- Technology complements rather than modifies workflow
- Contributing and annotating content – regardless of your comfort level with technology – is easy, not intimidating and cumbersome
- The wireless system is agnostic to complementary technologies
If this sounds like a tall order, it is — but it’s one that we’ve created and refined at Mersive.
Presentation works around technology’s rules. Collaboration works with human nature.
Go back to the meeting room where attendees are passing a button around, fumbling with it, and then (if they’re lucky) sharing their content to the meeting display. Imagine how frustrating this is for team members who have a flash of insight and want to share content — particularly content they hadn’t initially planned to share. Those sorts of barriers to engagement are lethal to morale and productivity, and they prevent fresh ideas and approaches from being considered. Your organization’s best ideas might not be making it into the strategic plan: not for want of brainpower but because of structural impediments.
But if we let everyone share content — and unlimited content at that — won’t the meeting just devolve into chaos?
No, because people still conform to social conventions in communication. In the same way that most people would never consistently talk over someone on the telephone, speak out of turn in a board meeting, or walk up to the front of the class when a professor is presenting, they also would be loathe to cast a video or document when it’s not appropriate to do so. This is where we feel that a lot of current technology simply doesn’t give people credit for being people. Social convention doesn’t disintegrate easily. Your organizational culture is not going to invert itself in the presence of collaborative technology — but you might just find that it improves, as more and more team members not only feel comfortable contributing in meetings but also add intellectual capital and fresh ideas to the organization as a whole.
Presentation enables business as usual. Collaboration produces ROI.
Out of all of the promises wireless presentation made and broke, “adding value and changing the culture of meetings” might just be the one that breaks our hearts the most.
True collaboration leads to higher-quality individual meetings and, more important, can change meeting culture as a whole. This has a positive net effect on both the entire organizational culture and the quality of ideas, relationships, and the work itself. Given that collaborative environments empirically produce more engaged employees, better retention and recruitment, higher-quality ideas, and a stronger bottom line, it’s vital that the time you and your team spend in meeting rooms or huddle spaces is spent wirelessly collaborating, not presenting.
If you’re presenting today, collaborate tomorrow.
Mersive’s Solstice wireless collaboration system moves well beyond simple presentation systems that simply replace a cable with a cable. As advocates and practitioners of human-centered design, we have taken great care to develop — and continue to refine — a wireless collaboration system that is a natural extension of your workflow, with features informed by constant customer communication and need.
With Solstice, meeting contributors can:
- Share unlimited content from any device, as well as stage content for later, all through a simple drag-and-drop interface.
- Benefit from an intuitive and simple interface that they can use right away, without spending inordinate amounts of time learning the “new” system.
- Connect to the meeting using any device, either over your wired corporate network or over a wireless guest connection. The networks are firewalled off from one another, giving you secure, dual-network capabilities that lead the industry in security and regularly undergo rigorous third-party penetration testing.
- Immediately see short- and long-term ROI through our Solstice Cloud analytics system, which monitors Solstice-enabled meetings and makes it easy to demonstrate return on investment through shorter, more productive meetings; quicker start times; and greater engagement.
We’re so confident of Solstice and the results it can help our customers achieve that we think everyone should try it. Take a deeper look at the features, and then try it for 30 days – on us – and see the difference true collaboration makes. Your organization depends on the quality of its people’s ideas, and better meetings mean better ideas. It really is that elementary – and that important.