Selling The Meeting Rooms of the Future


We reached out to Konftel, Poly, Ascentae and Nuvias to find out more

Channel News Insights
Selling The Meeting Rooms of the Future

2021 is a seminal year for the meeting room. As businesses reorganise their office space in preparation of a return of staff, meeting rooms are being re-designed, re-fitted and prepared for working life in a post-pandemic world.  

IDC recently reported that organisations are planning to increase spending on conferencing solutions by more than 20% in 2021 versus 2020, meaning the appetite to adapt meeting spaces is on the agenda for organisations across the world. 

The value of the face-to-face meeting has not diminished, merely refined as new flexible ways of communicating come to the fore in a hybrid working environment. COVID has added a layer of complexity to the situation which vendors have been reacting to accordingly also. Businesses are now assessing what their meeting rooms should look like by trying to balance ROI with business benefits.  

For many businesses the need for external expertise to aid the transformation of the meeting room and how that sits within the wider communications is imperative. We spoke to those channel companies helping businesses realise the future of the meeting room.  

What are the major drivers behind the meeting room changes we are seeing right now?

Jeff May, Sales Director, Konftel 

Jeff May, Konftel

Jeff May

“Offices are set to burst back to life this year, but rapid transformation needs to take place to deliver safe working conditions. 

Across many parts of the country, offices are being reorganised to create more space, more meeting rooms and more video conferencing. It’s important to fully prepare for the next phase of Covid recovery, combining a mix of home working and phased office life – the hybrid workplace. 

The world of work has been turned in its head over the last 12 months with a working from home explosion – but the first steps to a phased return to the office are now underway – where customers successfully transition and embrace more flexible working for the long term. 

Our working world has undergone dramatic changes with video and audio conferencing playing a frontline role. But with the vaccination roll-out going well, organisations need to start preparing for people to return to offices in a limited, practical and safe way – whilst also ensuring they have high quality equipment to continue WFH. 

It’s a great time to be working in the industry with new reseller opportunities continually being created and innovative technologies to expand their portfolios.”  

Paul Clark, Senior VP, EMEA Managing Director, Poly 

Paul Clark

Paul Clark

“The shift to hybrid working will see meeting spaces divided into new technology-enabled workspaces focused on ideation and collaboration.  

The key word is flexibility – and what we mean by that is simple, plug-and-play technologies that are easy to set up all while delivering a consistent collaboration experience.”

“From the moment people walk into a meeting room, slick and intuitive audio and video technologies should enable workers to effortlessly collaborate, think, create or simply check in with colleagues both in the room and outside of the office”

“That’s why we’re seeing a rise in demand for videoconferencing bars with built-in native software experiences (e.g. Zoom and Microsoft Teams). These offer a fluid, pro-grade quality and consumer-like simplicity, with proximity join functionality that means that meetings can be started from a personal laptop or smartphone, as well as the in room native controller. 

Faster internet connectivity, improved video compression technology, and the roll-out of 5G have also made high-definition video a viable alternative to meeting in-person — offering an immersive remote collaboration experience for those joining remotely or from the office. 

Fundamentally though, when, where and how employees work should no longer matter as long as they are equipped with optimal technology and communication solutions that drive productivity and collaboration.  

Enterprise grade collaboration platforms combined with pro-grade audio and video endpoints are ideally placed to create consistent, experiences for every employee, enabling work to become not a place but what they do. Enterprise the endpoints are the “experience engine” for the collaboration platforms.” 

Jon Knight, Managing Director, Ascentae 

Jon Knight

Jon Knight

“12 months of remote working and now an anticipated gradual return to the office throughout 2021 has resulted in most businesses expecting 90+% of meetings to include 1 or more remote participants. Businesses need to allow flexibility to employees but many meeting rooms are not adequately provisioned to support UC calls.  

MS Teams has become dominant but we are also hearing that flexibility and the ability for users to bring their device to a meeting rooms is also a key driver. Social distancing is expected to be maintained for the foreseeable future and therefore low-end table based microphones and cheap “web cams” will not provide a good enough video and audio experience. If employees experience poor quality audio and video the temptation will be to join from their own device in a cubicle or from their desk or – more likely – stay at home. 

The adequate provisioning of rooms to support flexible but good quality UC experiences at scale has the potential to make or break many businesses return to work strategies. In 2021 there will be an increased demand for medium-large spaces to support social distancing and then huddle/smaller spaces will happen later.” 

What kinds of technologies will support the new requirements for meeting rooms?

Edward House – Nuvias UC Sales Director UK&I 

Ed House

Ed House

“To enable people to space out in medium to large rooms, the chosen technologies will need to offer a wide mic pick-up array, a loud speaker and advanced camera options such as a wide lens or auto-tracking and framing. In especially large spaces, hanging ceiling mics are a favorable option or flexible components, such as conference phones, can be linked in the center of the table to extend audio range. All these devices ensure that users can be seen and heard clearly, even when spread out across the room. It is also common to have 2 screens in bigger spaces, so it is important to ensure that the technology supports extended content across both displays too.

Over the last year, we have seen vendors innovating to bring more Teams and Zoom native devices to market. There are now various devices which fit the requirements of different room sizes, which make it easy to connect to conferencing platforms and switch conversations from soft clients to meeting room hardware.” 

Jon Knight, Managing Director, Ascentae 

“The starting point is making spaces ready for UC calls and therefore for most this is rooms to support MS Teams and other platforms. The focus needs to be on creating a flexible and high quality experience that replicates the clear audio and video experience most have achieved through the remote working phase. Technologies such as Microsoft Teams Rooms, Mersive and Barco Clickshare Conference offer options to integrate with Teams or support Bring your own Meeting. Nureva audio is now MS Teams certified and Zoom certified enabling high quality audio in spaces of up to 15m x 9m.   

After enabling spaces for UC consideration is needed for visual collaboration for hybrid meetings. Many will start with the MS Teams or Zoom whiteboard but this is limited in functionality. More focus on tools will enable enhanced visual collaboration integrated with UC. Next will be enhancing customer experiences – both customers and employees will need high quality meeting experiences that are engaging, immersive and interactive.  

All of this should be under-pinned by a meeting room booking experience to enable businesses to track the popularity and usage of spaces. Understanding these trends will enable future investment decisions to be made based upon actual usage data.”

“Long term this might mean reduction in total real estate or providing more of a “collaboration hub” experience with less 1:1 desks and more meeting rooms of different types”  

What role does the channel play in building the meeting rooms of the future? Is this a great opportunity?

Jeff May, Sales Director, Konftel 

“There’s never been a better time to be in the industry. To advise, educate and inspire more hybrid working. The channel has a fundamental role.

“We estimate more than half of businesses are planning to accelerate IT budgets this year, with video meeting room technologies one of their top priorities”

What we are finding is more companies are reorganising their offices and preparing to facilitate increased video meetings. The traditional office is already going through rapid transformation, before fully bursting back into life. It’s clear many successful companies are already experiencing a rapid return on investment and are planning to invest more in meeting room technologies and hardware for remote workers.  

Versatile, cost effective and ‘climate neutral’ solutions (with no net impact on the planet) will be key. 

Remote working and the Hybrid workplace means more meetings – with colleagues who aren’t in the office, suppliers and customers who can’t or won’t travel. So more meeting spaces and rooms are required. 

Workstations will have a good quality camera and a headset for private meetings. Offices will have less people in, but more space. More meeting spaces and more meeting equipment will be prevalent.” 

Paul Clark, Senior VP, EMEA Managing Director, Poly 

The hybrid work model of the future provides a great opportunity for channel partners. UC hardware and software are ideally placed to create consistent, pro-grade experiences for every employee, no matter where they work. 

The channel has the opportunity to help shape this new future by redefining what “work” really means and delivering the technologies to empower these changes.  

What’s more, with advancements in room videoconferencing systems, there is no longer the need to spend tens of thousands of dollars investing in hardware or programming for complex touch-panels, or for an IT professional to operate them. Simple to use and intuitive video bars or complete video conferencing systems get rooms up and running quickly and effortlessly with high quality video and audio.” 

Edward House – Nuvias UC Sales Director UK&I 

“The requirement for device consolidation, platform integration and technology refresh in line with the return to the office presents a huge opportunity for resellers, distributors, and vendors a like. We’re expecting an uptake in professional services to help scope out solutions in new rooms, particularly within rooms where the customer might want multiple components such as mics or conference phones for flexibility.  

“Alternatively, businesses may be looking for ways to connect their existing technology to conferencing platforms which have been adopted while working from home, this is where those who specialise in Cloud Video Interop can maximise on the return-to-work opportunity too” 

 


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