An age-old question comes to mind… what are the three most important things in real estate? The well-worn answer from the experts is location, location, location. This type of response directly relates to AV, these days… After interviews with AV manufacturers, resellers, and end users alike, the consistent response to question “what are the three most important things in AV?” revolve around collaboration, collaboration, collaboration.
You can throw in buzz words like UCC, the cloud, IoT, and even BYOD… and it still it comes back to collaboration, and more specifically, collaboration in ever expanding meeting environments.
I want to explore the concept of collaboration and see why it fits at the pinnacle of considerations relative to what we do today in commercial AV.
Other than in a totally autocratic environment, business takes place, objectives are set, and actions are decided upon as a result of meetings and (of course) collaboration. There is a difference between cooperation or simply working together or in proximity to one another and true collaboration. The difference involves several things – but first of all, a business focus or purpose.
The simple definition of collaboration includes three parts:
- Two or more people (team)
- Working together to achieve a business benefit (processes)
- Working towards defined business goals (purpose)
Collaboration at the conceptual level, involves:
- Shared focus/purpose
- Participation and sharing
- Consideration of alternatives
- Discussion and negotiation
- Problem solving
- Consensus building
- Time sensitivity
Collaboration Evolved Out of Necessity
The concept of how we define a meeting has changed radically over the last decade. Where a meeting used to be dominated by a single presenter (or two) and a group of listeners… we have evolved to the point where nearly all attendees are participants in one form or another. This is one of those “necessity being the mother of invention” cases where the complexity of businesses today requires a lot more input than ever before.
Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, an expert on verbal and nonverbal messages writes that “Today’s corporation exists in an increasingly complex and ever-shifting ocean of change. As a result, leaders need to rely more than ever on the intelligence and resourcefulness of their staff. Collaboration is not a “nice to have” organizational philosophy. It is an essential ingredient for organizational survival and success.” She goes on to point out that “it’s not just corporate profits that suffer when collaboration is low: the workforce loses something too. Individuals lose the opportunity to work in the kind of inclusive environment that energizes teams, releases creativity and makes working together both productive and joyful.”
For businesses, a lack of collaboration becomes an existential issue. Many are still mired down in a “silo mentality.” This is where departments are so insular and covetous of their turf that they are unwilling to share information with others in the same company. This results in company-wide power struggles, lack of cooperation, and loss of productivity. This ignores the aggregation of knowledge and experience that is resident within the company. In order to effectively compete in this ever-changing world, companies need to knock down internal barriers and mine the totality of human intellectual resources within.
Keys to Successful Collaboration
One of the key elements of effective collaboration is the inclusion of diversity of experience and thinking. As Dr. Goman points out, “Group members who think alike or are trained in similar disciplines with similar bases of knowledge run the risk of becoming insular in their ideas. Diversity causes people to consider perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored.” Consider the negative implications of a company populated by singularity of thought devoid of any alternatives or out of the box thinking. Impedes progress? Of course.
Collaboration is, first and foremost, a change in attitude and behavior of people throughout an organization. Collaboration is most successful where the teams can develop personal relationships and build trust in one another. This speaks to understanding each other and discovering strengths and weaknesses. The results are increased productivity, employee retention, and profitability.
What this means to us in the AV design and integration community is opportunity. This is where UCC comes into the picture (pun intended). To realize all the benefits of collaboration illustrated previously, the meeting spaces (from large conference rooms down to huddle spaces) must be populated with up to date technologies that facilitate collaboration. Group participation in the meetings necessitates collaboration tools to enable this new meeting style. Above all else the technologies we suggest should be intuitive, simple and easy for anyone to use, schedule and join. On our part, we need to connect the dots of what they need for effective collaboration to what we can do to realize those objectives.
Legacy infrastructure still matters, but it is giving way to the cloud.
Cloud traits help define collaboration:
- Flexibility – of working anywhere and from any device.
- Scalability – automatically happening in the cloud.
- Ease of use – for everyone in your company, regardless.
- Cost-effectiveness – as the requirement for upfront investment in hardware is zero
Totally wireless systems and bring your own device (BYOD) meeting rooms are the new “holy grail”. They eliminate dealing with any cables or adapters at all when setting up a meeting, connecting your presentation or when showing something else from your screen. Anyone can connect their devices wirelessly – the only thing required is a simple app or login.
Collaboration is most successful where the teams can develop personal relationships and build trust in one another.
Collaboration goes beyond the confines of a given space. Recent studies have shown that by 2020, one in three people will be hired to work remotely, from anywhere they want. Remote screen sharing and multi-site collaboration will allow team members to connect to a currently running presentation or meeting from remote locations without having to be physically present. You can even join remotely from anywhere in the world.This enables a truly collaborative experience where everyone is seeing the same thing at the same time. Meetings will no longer be sessions to discuss a project – they will be sessions to work on a project.
We are entering the era of the “smart workspace”. A smart workspace can leverage increased capabilities in data gathering, recording, and distribution allowing us to assign information as needed to all locations most effectively. The era of big data is upon us and we are accustomed to information on demand, anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Thanks Google!
Once again, what this means for us is new opportunities, but we must first understand the need. In this case collaboration. As noted in a recent article, it begins with the concept and finishes by solving problems and providing solutions.