If one of your 2016 milestones is to improve conference room technology, then a consult is in order. But it’s not enough to simply check off the product boxes and move into installation. You need to ask some critical questions as you plan a successful revamp of your technology.

The first and most simple question: How do you interact with this room? Better yet, how does this room help your staff be more efficient/collaborative/productive?

Are you working through spreadsheets? Slide shows? Is your team currently utilizing video conferencing? Are you consistently sharing documents with remote participants?

This initial fact-finding will open up a dialogue to dig into granular applications of technology solutions within your collaborative spaces. A truly thorough breakdown will ensure goals are met and money is spent wisely on overhauling or enhancing your conference room.

Here are some the areas that should be covered in this planning phase:

1) Displays: The question of spreadsheets and written documents vs. slideshows and moving video has to be asked. This simple inquiry can answer how large of a display you need, what the resolution should be, and how many are required or where within the room should display(s) be located.

2) Audio: How will people hear the content within the room? Does your organization have a large space where people at the other end of the table are having a hard time hearing others speak? Your technology partner should at least be asking you these three simple questions:

·        Would you like to hear audio from the content on your display?

·        Do you need to have audio capabilities for people within the same room?

·        Is there any audio from outside of the room that will need to be heard?

3) Integrated Audio Conferencing / Integrated Video Conferencing Communications: How do you conference?Through which platform (Skype, Google, Polycom, Skype for Business (Lync), Cisco)? The goal will be to ultimately lower “TCO” – total cost of ownership – and find ways to leverage technologies already in play. Disparate technologies should be optimized to “communicate” with each other – bridging the gap between traditional and more flexible technologies.

4) Control System: Now that you have all of this technology, how in the world are you going to make your wish its command? Can you get away with using the remote that came with your TV? If you exceed one remote control or have remotes that grow legs, you may want to think about a keypad or touch panel. Your integrator can help you program these pieces of equipment for a one-press interface allowing for true automation of your system.

5) Room Scheduling: How will you reserve rooms and even display meetings in progress? If a meeting is running over, would you like a “doorbell” to kindly nudge people out of their rooms rather disrupting the participants in person?

6) Infrastructure: When thinking about this section, your technology partner is determining what sources you use within the room. How many places would you like to plug in a laptop or computer? Is there a DVD/Blu-Ray player? Even seemingly minor items such as a Chromecast or Apple TV have to be considered.

7) Lighting & Shading: With ever-evolving energy regulations, increased interest in sustainability, and scrutiny of daylight’s benefits for employees, daylight is now considered a crucial element of solid design. You may consider a total light management system that includes daylight harvesting, occupancy/vacancy sensors, and automated shade control for addressing both energy and glare management.

8) Rack & Power Distribution: Facilities need to reliably and efficiently distribute data center power to rack-based networking equipment via rack power distribution units (PDUs). An assessment should be done to determine if an organization will require basic distribution, remote monitoring, or control at the receptacle level.

While you trust an expert to create a smart solution for your conference room needs, this overview will help ensure you’re empowered to understand the key questions involved and how they will drive technology success for your organization.

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