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Whether you're a business leader or IT buyer, one of the most important experiences you can improve for employees in 2020 is the meeting experience.

With nearly 11 million meetings held each day in the U.S. alone, taking up anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of managers' and executives' time, there's ample room to modernize the meeting process with next-generation technology. 

No matter where you are in the process, we can help you assess, procure and deploy the technology that makes meetings easier to schedule, easier to join and more collaborative.

9 tips for finding the right meeting solution

1. Focus on ease of use.        

Ease of use must be considered not only for employees, but for visitors, vendors and customers who participate in meetings and calls. How easy is it to join in person, remotely or on the go? How easy is it to dial in or connect via video from various devices and locations like meeting rooms, smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops (including both PCs and Macs)?

2. Insist on interoperability.

If the solution requires a complete overhaul and replacement of existing collaboration tools, you've chosen poorly. Consider using our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to rationalize and test how prospective meeting tools will function with existing tools in your specific environment — all before you make a purchase.

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3. Consider short- and long-term strategy.

Because meeting technology spans workflows across your business, your technology choice should be strategically aligned with short- and long-term IT infrastructure and staffing plans. 

To do this, make sure to consult with all relevant teams regarding the rooms and collaboration tools they use, the features they absolutely need, those they'd like to have, and their own goals for improvement over time. Knowing who collaborates with whom and how often will help you achieve the right space configuration and technology integration. And given the complexity of modern IT architectures and environments, it'll also help ensure you're not looking for a new solution a few years down the road.

4. Facilitate multiple ways to join.

To ease the transition to a new platform, it's important that legacy users are allowed to choose from a range of connectivity options. For example, don't just assume you can eliminate toll-free access to meetings because it seems outdated. While it may be tempting to scrap legacy systems wholesale to save money, you're likely to find that some employees still use, prefer or even insist on the continued availability of familiar options. We recommend taking these concerns seriously and considering the end-user experience of all employees.

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5. Embrace analytics.

Any new meeting solution should include analytics that enable facilities leadership to understand and optimize the meeting experience over time. This includes analyzing data on how often rooms are booked and used or booked and abandoned (aka zombie meetings). Analytics can indicate how often video endpoints are used with remote participants or just to display presentations, and they can tell you how many people typically attend calls. This sort of data enables facilities to maximize the configuration of physical space to increase collaboration and productivity.

While WWT uses Teem software to gather this sort of data, there are many competitors to consider like Crestron Fusion, Robin, and Steelcase Room Scheduling among others. The right solution will depend on factors like whether you own or lease your property and the location of your offices (i.e., whether they're in one place or geographically dispersed).

6. Be realistic about the number of tools.

You know your organization and its infrastructure. Be honest about whether a single collaboration tool can solve all your business needs across user bases. It's more likely that you'll need to acquire different options to produce the best collaborative environment for your organization.

While tool sprawl is certainly an issue for IT departments, having too few options can also be a problem. We can help you assess, rationalize and optimize your meeting tools so they work together for a more seamless meeting experience. 

7. Don't overlook endpoint management.

While you probably need more than one meeting tool, the most streamlined collab environments feature fewer endpoints and involve hardware and software from just a short list of OEMs. This simplified approach is useful to prevent technology conflict between disparate systems, unregulated device proliferation and unnecessary complexity in managing the technology lifecycle. Consolidating meeting tools — at least as much as possible to satisfy all use cases — will help you maintain and operate your systems over the long term and will require less time to manage.

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8. Fully leverage the cloud.

Is video an emphasis for your organization? It certainly was for WWT's leadership when we overhauled our video conferencing system. With on-prem infrastructure increasingly being phased out across industries, you need to make sure your infrastructure is prepared to support cloud-based solutions.

A solid UC strategy is needed to unlock the full potential of cloud on your journey, especially if you're getting out of the phone business and expanding video endpoints in meeting rooms. The more endpoints you have, the more bandwidth you need. That means you'll need a bigger or better connection to the internet. 

9. Lead by example and maximize adoption.

Ultimately, if upper-level management is not committed to promoting and using the meeting solution on a daily basis, you'll be hard pressed to garner full adoption and realize the desired business outcomes. 

Consider leveraging WWT's Adoption Services to accelerate the implementation of your new purchase and make sure all levels of your organization are actually using the technology. We have hundreds of field professionals who can come on-site to train your trainers or train your end users. Our Enterprise Agreement (EA+) team will ensure you maximize the consumption of all the collaboration software available to you.

Have more questions about next-gen meetings and digital workspaces in 2020 and beyond? Engage us below for a briefing to better understand this rapidly changing space.

WWT and Cisco are offering 90-day free trials of Webex to help organizations enable remote working. Request your free trial here. 

Briefing: Video Conferencing for Next-Gen Meetings
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