Meeting Room of the Future
By Jonathan Priestley, Senior Vice President of MultiTaction
Meeting Room of the FutureEquipped with MultiTaction's iWall, a state-of-the-art interactive data visualisation solution, London and Partner's Tower Room will serve as a UK demonstration suite for organisations seeking to get a handle on big data, increase productivity and promote collaboration.
Everyone knows how important it is for business to attract and retain millennial talent. Here Jonathan Priestley, Senior Vice President of MultiTaction, explains how facilities managers can support this business imperative by being ambassadors for a new type of meeting space that enables productive engagement between people and technology.
Millennials are the 20th century's last generation and the first truly digital generation. They already comprise 80 million people in the USA and they will define and shape the world of work for years to come. So it is important for organisations to understand how best to engage with them and nowhere more so than in the sphere of technology.
Back in 2011, PWC was clearly highlighting the issue in their report Millennials at work - Reshaping the workplace. 'One of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information.'
The same PWC report noted back in 2011 that 41% of millennials preferred to communicate electronically, most make use of their own technology at work (BYOD - bring your own device) and three quarters believe that access to technology makes them more effective.
Of course millennials are not just employees but also your customers. In fact people and technology are at the heart of everything we do in business! When CEOs were asked by Forbes Magazine what they considered the top ten challenges facing them in 2015, two thirds (72%) identified technological change and one third (34%), a shortage of skilled labour.
Attracting millennial talent must therefore be part of the challenge and part of the solution. When a business talks about marketing to millennials it is not just about selling goods and services; it's also about promoting the company as a modern place in which to work. For millennials this means information technology that delivers an experience that is as smooth and engaging as possible. And it has to be instant and evolve in real-time.
We live in a world, where the office walls have come tumbling down. We can now work anytime, anywhere and anyhow. And there are so many different ways in which we can interact with our technology; so we have gone from mouse to touch to voice, and to high definition screens that show ever more detail and enable greater interaction.
But despite all the advances there still is still something of a chasm to cross when it comes to digital assets and the physical world. And it is this failure to bridge these two worlds that creates frustration for individuals and expensive bottle necks for organisations. A case in point is the fashion house that reverts to print-outs when reviewing computer aided designs, or the manufacturing company that does the same for supply chain management.
One of the problems is that few have woken up to the fact that the old meeting rooms and presentation media are no longer really fit for purpose. Where are the spaces with large-scale enterprise viewers that enable seamless interaction between the physical and digital worlds; something that offers all the functionality you expect from your laptop and smart phone but on a scale where groups, as opposed to individuals, can interact with it?
The fact is that such technology can be expensive and tends to be installed by organisations at the cutting edge of business competitiveness. Back in 2012, Nasdaq, the American stock-exchange, selected MultiTaction displays and its unique CodiceTM software to take clients and guests on a personalised, interactive journey. The interactive displays support multiuser environments, provide ultra-fast responsiveness, and are stackable into any size or shape.
More recently, London & Partners, the Mayor of London's promotional company equipped its boardroom with a state-of-the-art interactive touch screen that is just shy of six metres wide and over two metres high. The screen gives businesses who use The Tower Room the opportunity to explore the features and benefits of cutting-edge technology for visualisation and collaboration.
Alex Kinchin-Smith, Director of Projects and Programmes said, "Since we installed the technology in the boardroom, staff have had the opportunity to be more creative and innovative, which has changed our meetings from typical one way presentations to a more collaborative environment where it is possible to generate, review and interact with content either directly on the touch enabled wall or shared from smart devices."
The large screen makes it possible to review, interact with and manipulate assets in a collaborative environment that seamlessly connects people, technology and digital assets. Users can pull in data from multiple sources to one scalable display system. Information from a number of systems is presented side by side in one place and can be explored by driving the application from the display.
Alongside the impressive digital display, users can interact using a range of media including fingers, infrared pens and other everyday objects. These solutions also embrace the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend by making it possible to share content onto the interactive walls. With seamless integration across PCs, smart devices and the interactive displays users can easily save and access the content at any time.
This 'meeting space of the future' has been used in a number of client businesses with impressive results. A major manufacturing company uses the technology to manage the entire supply chain, from design through to production. A large interactive visualisation platform brings together a number of different systems on an 11 metre long interactive video wall, enabling significant productivity gains. It is estimated that saving 24 hours out of the supply chain is worth in the region of $70 million in benefits not to mention increased speed to market.
And these meeting spaces are not just for internal meetings. Nowadays, many companies need to engage with their prospects and customers in a much more collaborative way. These meeting spaces of the future transform what used to be something of a sales monologue into a more dynamic and fluid dialogue with customers; customers who will increasingly be members of the digital savvy millennial generation.
Two trends stand out as being particularly relevant in the office of the future as envisaged in the Gensler Design Forecast 2014. The first is that people need to collaborate and are hungry for places suited to conversations among a few people. The second trend is that smart environments will take hold and attracting this young and creative generation will be a shared goal of cities and employees. Facilities managers with their understanding of, and support for the meeting space of the future, have a vital role to play in bringing this new working environment into being.