Workplace Transformation: Smarter Meetings for Smarter Business

Q&A interview with Bryan Thomas, director of Smart Office and Mark Krynock, Smart Office strategist.

Q. Today, we are showcasing our smart meeting room solutions at Infocomm 2018 in Las Vegas. At the event, we are launching the new ThinkSmart Hub 700, more details on that here. We wanted to take the opportunity to talk with Bryan Thomas and Mark Krynock and get their expert views on workplace transformation with a focus on smarter meeting spaces. Gentlemen, thank you for taking the time to enlighten us on the digital transformations taking place in office environments. Bryan, before we delve into the detail, can you give us a quick background on what workplace transformation is.

Bryan: Sure. We see a big change and opportunity with advances in technology, the new workspaces being developed and the increasing number of influential Millennials entering the workforce. For businesses to remain competitive and attract top talent, they will need to invest in technology to empower their diverse workforce. There are 3 main areas that businesses should focus on:

  1. Workspace Optimization. This covers everything from endpoint devices, to collaboration tools and meeting spaces.
  2. IT Automation. Multi-device synergies will require a strategic implementation of deployment, management and service solutions.
  3. Finally, Downtime reduction. With the right devices, security, software and support service, minimal end-user downtime results in a happier and more engaged workforce.

A good workplace transformation strategy should not only meet the requirements of the entire workforce but should also ensure that IT is not burdened.

Q. Thanks Bryan, very helpful. One of the most frustrating aspects of working in an office is participating in meetings, that often start late, overrun and become a painful part of our working day. Are smarter meetings part of this transformation?

Bryan: Absolutely and I couldn’t agree more on the pain points of meetings. A key part of building a Smart Office is ensuring that meeting spaces are equipped to be easy to deploy and then easy to use for local and remote participants. Business customers are investing significant sums of money on collaboration technology and implementing Workplace Transformation Initiatives to build next generation smart offices. We see a huge demand for huddle room technology over the next 2-3 years. I’ll let Mark talk more on the details of ThinkSmart Hub 500 and 700 that we have designed to greatly improve meeting experiences.

Q. So Mark, can you give us some insight as to how we go about creating a smart meeting room?

Mark: A good question. First, we need to look at what makes meetings such a painful process today.

The screen on the right shows how painful meetings can be. To summarize, issues include:
  1. Connections to displays, audio, webcams are all separate and don’t always work.
  2. Typically, a single person’s PC controls the meeting room making participant connection and sharing content complex and unreliable.
  3. Audio performance is often poor and the meeting rooms are often cluttered with cables, ports and power outlets.
  4. All in all, meetings are often delayed by an average of 10 minutes and therefore tend to overrun, adding further time pressures to everyone’s working day.

With these pain points in mind, we have created 2 meeting room solutions. The ThinkSmart Hub 500 and ThinkSmart Hub 700 are both purpose-built devices for simplified meetings. Designed to provide fast starts to meetings, control of meeting devices and content by any participant, superior audio performance and a cleaner, clutter-free meeting room space.

Q. So what are the differences between ThinkSmart Hub 500 and Hub 700?

Mark: We announced the ThinkSmart Hub 500 last year, designed in cooperation with Microsoft as a purpose-built Skype Room System solution, it features an integrated rotating display and premium Dolby Audio.

The ThinkSmart Hub 700, announcing today, is a hardware and software platform that lets users quickly connected and share from any device. The more agnostic approach to the Hub 700 means that customers can easily integrate into existing collaboration platforms and manage meeting room activities easily through a simple management console. The Hub 700 has a lot of features, but here are some of the highlights.

  1. The controls on the Hub are a new approach to truly democratizing the collaboration space. Within arm reach anyone can control the meeting and keeps the attention on what really matters, the content and the people that are local or remote.
  2. Content sharing is easy for all participants via wired or wireless connections, in the room and remotely. Users can simultaneously share in simple ways.
  3. We support various unified communication platforms, including Skype For Business, Zoom and BlueJeans. 
  4. This is the first Lenovo product with a Dolby Audio Speaker System. Co-engineered with Dolby, this device provides an amazing audio experience.
  5. Finally, an easy to use ThinkSmart Software management console can help with quick deployments, manageability and monitoring the meeting room experience.  The console will provide the telemetry on room health and utilization to drive better business decisions for the organization.

Q. Meetings might just become an enjoyable part of the working day! Bryan, are these devices just the tip of the iceberg?

Bryan: Totally. Of course, I can’t divulge information on forthcoming products, but our strategy to enable smarter business through technology solutions is really just starting. We’re very excited to be working on next generation meeting room solutions and I’ll happily talk to you again when more devices become available.

 

Thank you, gentlemen, for your time. We are very excited by these opportunities to vastly improve meeting room experiences. We look forward to speaking with you again soon.

For more information on our ThinkSmart Hub solutions, visit https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/virtual-reality-and-smart-devices/smart-office/c/smart-office?menu-id=SMART_OFFICE