'Team work' concept. Group of creative young professionals working together on their joint project.
If your schedule is packed with meetings, you won’t be surprised to learn that we waste an average of 9 minutes getting set up at the beginning of each conference call.
Then, we spend another 6 minutes dealing with problems during the call.[i]
Many of these inefficiencies stem from awkward technology. For example, a person who dials in remotely may have sound or video issues. Or your presenter may have trouble getting their slides to work.
These inefficiencies cost the Canadian economy an estimated $20 billion each year.[ii]
Recent magazine articles tout ‘saving 5 minutes’ in every meeting. While that might make you a bit more efficient and cost-effective over time, that won’t move the employee engagement needle, which is the key ingredient for change in any culture.
Save 15 minutes every session? Now you’re talkin’.

Why your collaboration tools harm your productivity (and waste your time)

When your team attends meetings, they may use tools such as traditional whiteboards and flipcharts to brainstorm ideas. Although these tools are supposed to make collaboration easier, they actually impede your productivity while seriously impacting employee engagement.
Here’s how …
1. You can’t take what you write on a flip chart or whiteboard and easily share it with others. Attendees must snap photos of the notes if they need to refer to them later. But if the text on the flipchart isn’t clear or the whiteboard is dull, they won’t get a usable photo.
2. Meanwhile, people who dial into meetings remotely can’t see what’s happening on your whiteboard. This impacts their ability to collaborate and share ideas. They also must rely on another attendee to send them notes – which they might not receive until hours or days after your meeting. If the speaker’s handwriting is illegible, attendees may not admit that they can’t read it (especially if their boss is the one presenting). Some employees will choose to let vital information slip past them over telling the boss that she has chicken scratch.
3. And if someone wants to share something from their laptop, they’ll need to hook up to a projector and then to a screen. Or worse, attendees will huddle around the laptop to see the information. Again, this leaves remote attendees out of the loop.


What is an interactive whiteboard and how does it make collaboration easier?

Replacing your awkward tools with an interactive flat panel display (IFPD) can improve your team’s collaboration and productivity – which ultimately drives revenue for your business.
An IFPD – sometimes called a smartboard or interactive whiteboard – is a large, electronic screen that attendees can engage with the same way they would use a laptop or mobile device. They can view content from the internet, share files and run software directly from the IFPD.
During meetings, they can write on the screen and mark up their notes using a special pen.
With an IFPD, you can:
• Get rid of the bulky phone in the middle of your conference table. IFPDs have built in unified communications (UC) screens that connect to Skype. This allows external attendees to see everything that’s happening in real-time – from who’s in the room to what’s on the screen.
• Connect your laptop and smartphone directly to an IFPD and present from it. No more huddling around a tiny screen or connecting your laptop to a projector when you want to share information.
• Use the IFPD like a computer and present from industry-specific software. For example, you can share AutoCAD drawings, any Office file or pretty much anything you need to present during a session. Attendees can mark up these files on the screen and save and print any changes.
• Configure your IFPD to automatically capture and share data. Attendees won’t need to take photos of the screen, as the IFPD will automatically sends PDFs of the notes to them after meetings. Now attendees can focus on collaboration – not on taking notes.
• Look more professional to guests and meeting participants who are visiting your office. With the right software, joining sessions remotely is a snap for virtual attendees.
In the very near future, IFPDs will automatically record and transcribe meetings. They will also include speakers that cancel background noise and cameras that show the entire room.
While IFPDs eliminate the wasted time and tech troubles that plague the start of meetings, they can also reduce your preparation time, as you won’t need to worry about how you will share files from your laptop or mobile device, you can do that on the fly.
Finally, they save you time after meetings by automatically distributing notes, takeaways to attendees as the session closes.


Answer these 5 questions to get stakeholders onboard with interactive whiteboards

Although an IFPD offers many benefits, you will likely encounter questions if you decide to install one. Here are the top five questions that your stakeholders will ask:


1. Aren’t IFPDs for schools? Why should we use one?
Many people associate IFPDs with classrooms or e-learning. However, corporate usage of these IFPDs is expected to jump, as the global interactive whiteboard market increases to USD 2.31 billion by 2025. This represents an annual growth rate of 6.1 percent during the forecast period.[iii]
Canadian businesses are using digital technologies, such as IFPDs, to modernize their workplaces and transform their culture. Many companies are moving away from cubicles to open, flexible spaces that encourage collaboration.
In fact, one of the first things that the 2018 Canadian CIO of the year, Mark Saunders, did when he started his role at Sun Life[iv] was to renovate its office space. He knew that a more digital, modern space would get employees excited about Sun Life’s mission and “create a work environment that would be better fitted for the type of organization that I wanted to build.”
IFPDs support the modern, digital workplace. They allow teams that are separated by distance – whether they are on different floors or in different countries – to easily collaborate. For example, R&D teams can develop products with partners who are located around the world. Designers can reduce revisions by manipulating their designs on-screen. Executives can see everything that is happening in a meeting room – even if they log in remotely. The possibilities are endless.
2. Can our non-technical people use this technology without any hassle?
Another reason why more companies are installing IFPDs is because the technology has become dramatically easier to use. In the past, IFPDs had a steep learning curve. Now, if someone can use a laptop or a tablet, they can use an IFPD — in fact, senior citizens in nursing homes use IFPDs to play Candy Crush!
Although IFPDs are extremely intuitive, you can take additional steps to boost employee adoption. A lunch-and-learn session is a great way to train employees on the new system. You can also set up an IFPD and let employees play with it before an actual meeting to eliminate any intimidation factor. That way, they’ll feel comfortable with the technology well before they need to work with one in front of a group.


3. How easy is it to get an IFPD up-and-running? How much time does IT need to devote to this?
In general, it can take a few hours install an IFPD. Your IT team will need to give it an IP address so that it can access your network. They will also need to handle a few security considerations.
You can make the installation process easier by choosing an IFPD provider that offers live technical support. Look for a partner that provides a variety of on-demand support options – from video to chat. They should offer one-touch support directly from the IFPD. That way, you won’t need to run to your office or open another device if you have a question. 
4. Are IFPDs secure?
An IFPD is far more secure than a traditional whiteboard or flipchart and your IT Operations team will be an easy sell.
Someone can write sensitive information on a flip chart or traditional white board and leave it in the meeting room where anyone can see it. However, users need access rights to log into an IFPD.
Since your IFPD connects to your network, your IT team can apply security controls to it. IFPDs also offer built-in security features. Look for an IFPD that does the following:
• Minimizes your risks of viruses, malware, and shadow IT by preventing users from installing software.
• Allows you to control who can configure its settings and make software modifications.
• Password-protects files that are shared both on and off your network.
• Restricts access to users on your network.
5. How do we prepare our meeting rooms for this technology?
IFPDs encourage a digital, collaborative workspace. That means that you don’t need a giant conference table in the middle of the room. Instead, teams can gather around the IFPD to collaborate and brainstorm ideas.
Since IFPDs support video meetings, there are a few things you can do to make the room’s lighting and acoustics “camera ready.” However, you don’t need to burden your IT team with this task. Your IFPD provider can send an AV engineer to your office to set everything up for you.

The workplace of the future is here: Are you ready?

Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2025, the world will have at least 3.7 billion smartphones, 700 million tablets, and 60 million unified communication platforms.[v] The explosion of communications devices will forever change how we work – and where we work from. More of the people you collaborate with on a daily basis will be located in offices and cities throughout the world (if they’re not already!).
Tools, such as IFPDS, make it easy to collaborate with teammates near and far. Not only do they bring local and global teams together, they also eliminate wasted time and boost your productivity.
This Ricoh white paper focuses on how the future of office communication is set to become a gateway to digitally empowering smart societies as seen through the lens of technological and socio-demographic megatrends in the years ahead.


Download Now: Frost & Sullivan’s  ‘Redefining Office Communication: Technology and Socio-Demographic Convergence Trends Driving Workplace Evolution


[i] ZDNet: How much time do we waste on conference calls? March 14, 2018
[ii] Wiele, Bob: The Cost of Bad Meetings
[iii] BusinessWire: The Interactive Whiteboards Market to 2025: Global Analysis by Technology, Projection Technique, Application and Form Factor – ResearchAndMarkets.com, November 2, 2018
[iv] IT World Canada: 5 Lessons from New Technology Leaders: Mark Saunders, Sun Life, November 7, 2018
[v] Frost & Sullivan: A market potential of USD $731B in connected living by 2020; May 15, 2014