Determining the Right Collaboration Environment

April 23, 2013, by Lisa Avvocato in Collaboration

Collaboration technologies are making their way into many organizations as executives realize the benefits collaboration can bring to their organization. In many cases, there is a need to connect groups of people in a collaborative room environment; whether it’s to encourage collaboration on documents or other deliverables, video conference with remote teams, or hold a training session for new hires or policy updates.

The myriad of choices between the technology, room layouts, furniture and more can become overwhelming; especially for organizations designing a collaboration environment for the first time. Here are a few tips to help navigate through the process.

When determine what types of technology the room needs, an organization must first decide what the room will be used for. The majority of functions fall into three categories:

Connecting People
Video conferencing is often used to connect remote teams and the technology typically depends on the size of the room and number of participants. For smaller groups, a single camera with manual pan/tilt/zoom functionality can be adjusted to capture the entire room. Larger groups, however, may need the ability to automatically switch between a panned-out room view and a zoomed-in view of the active speaker. In this case, dual cameras are necessary. In some cases, panoramic room or lifelike views of room participants are needed.  Multiple cameras that capture images from left, right, and center segments are used to create the immersive telepresence feel.

Presenting Content
The ability to present content is standard in almost any collaboration room. When utilizing content sharing during a video conference; it may be necessary to have dual monitors as one is dedicated to viewing remote participants while the other is dedicated to viewing content. In rooms where video conferencing is not needed, a PowerPoint or training video can be displayed with a projector and screen. In some cases, teams may need to create, modify and annotate documents instead of simply displaying them. Interactive whiteboards allow teams to brainstorm ideas or markup documents then send the changes directly to a computer.

Interactive Collaboration
Some environments require the ability to display and collaborate on complex data. This includes high-resolution images, such as blueprints or product designs, where granular detail is necessary. This also includes the ability to display and control data from multiples sources simultaneous. For example, when designing a new product the prototype from one participant’s laptop can be displayed at the same time target markets and product messaging is displayed from another participant’s tablet. Video feeds can also be integrated so remote participants can view, display and control content from their location.

Once an organization determines the key functionalities of the room; they can begin reaching out to audio visual integrators to help select the technology that best fits the room’s requirements. The integrator can then begin designing the collaboration environment that will meet the organization’s collaboration needs.

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