Smart tech to wipe out wasted time in meetings

unproductive-meetings
Many meetings begin late due to technical issues.

We waste hours every week on unproductive meetings and IT issues are often to blame. How can employees running meetings ensure technology helps rather than hinders their cause? 

A vast $37 billion is wasted around the world each year on unproductive meetings, according to research conducted by online meeting company Fuze.

In fact, executives surveyed consider that just over two-thirds of the gatherings they attend are a waste of time. But despite this situation, organisations still spend about 15% of their collective day this way, a figure that has increased every year since 2008.

When people talk about technology, there’s only one thing they expect, which is ease-of-use.” – Lieven Bertier, Barco

Of that, about 35% of middle managers’ time is absorbed in these get-togethers, while the figure rises to more like 50% for senior leaders. To make matters worse, employees can spend as much as four hours per week preparing for meetings just so they can update managers on the status of their work.

Lieven Bertier, global marketing manager of collaboration at Barco, which sells visual display technology, estimates that the average meeting commences between five and eight minutes late – and the main reason for the delay is tech-related.

And in some cases, the issues are so severe that participants have to call on the services of their IT department. As a result, IT managers end up having to deal with about 447 such incidents a year, each one of which takes roughly 23 minutes to fix.

Wiring up

As to the key reason behind these malfunctions, this relates predominantly to the common or garden cable – or lack of it – in the case of something like an iPad.

Bertier explains that, in a typical meeting room, you’ll generally find a projector or flat screen and cable. “So once the topic is introduced, a specialist will want to show everyone an Excel document on the screen. The cable to link their computer will be handed round, but nothing will appear,” he says. “Then someone else might want to use their Macbook, but they’ll discover they’ve forgotten the adapter. So it’s a big challenge.”

But it is also a frustrating one because, as Bertier points out: “When people talk about technology, there’s only one thing they expect, which is ease-of-use.” When they don’t get it, however, most people simply dump the whole thing and default to paper.

One way of tackling the issue is via wireless presentation systems, which enable everyone to connect their devices to the screen seamlessly.

Barco’s version is called ClickShare and is about the size of a home router. While for most devices, nothing needs to be installed, a dedicated USB dongle is required for MacBooks. For iPads, it is possible to download a free app from the AppStore.

“A key benefit is better collaboration, but the real return is in that there are a lot fewer IT interventions required than before,” Bertier says.

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