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Build Team Engagement with Interactive Whiteboards

Collaboration is more than a trendy buzzword. It is a critical ingredient for creativity, ingenuity, and ultimate success. A full 84 percent of the S&P 500’s market value is in the form of intangible assets.

Top-performing companies know this. It’s why executives at high-performance organizations are 3.5 times more likely to use intelligent collaboration than their counterparts at low-performance companies.

Collaboration is also a cornerstone of learning and training. Whether in corporate settings, education, government, or the healthcare industry, participants must communicate, share information, and get feedback.

Challenge of Interactivity and Engagement

Although collaboration is critical in all these cases, its achievement is difficult due to the challenges of interactivity and engagement. In typical meeting room or classroom gatherings, or even in ad hoc meetings in an open space or huddle room, generally one person is up at a board while others watch.

When people cannot take full part in the process, nothing will happen. True collaboration is the full interchange of ideas and knowledge sharing among participants. Meetings must enable participant input, whether speaking or writing. Even in a teaching or training setting, collaboration should be in force. Learning requires engagement, which is the opposite of passive reception.

But both collaboration and engagement face a challenge as people working or learning together often are not in the same location. More than a fifth of U.S. employees do some or all of their work from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rates of working from home across Europe range from slightly under 10 percent to nearly 45 percent.

In addition, 42.5 percent of the global workforce will be mobile by 2022, according to Strategy Analytics. Even when people aren’t at home, there is a significant chance that they aren’t in the office, either. The digital workplace with an always-on workforce that has to interact across different schedules and time zones is already here. Cross-device collaboration is a must.

In education, kids may be homeschooled or out sick, making engagement difficult to impossible. Students or people in training courses might also be traveling and need to participate from remote locations. The expectation that people can catch up on return isn’t realistic. Nor is postponing collaboration. Once the whiteboard is wiped, maintaining connections with those who aren’t in is difficult.

How Digital Collaboration Works

New workplace technology can help facilitate interaction and engagement, and enable the ideation process. The ViewSonic ViewBoard Interactive Flat Panel (IFP) Display and myViewBoard whiteboarding software, as shown in Figure 1, is one example. A combination of an advanced display, Intel Unite® software, expansion options, and cloud capabilities enables a strongly interactive and involving collaborative or learning experience.

Figure 1. ViewSonic’s ViewBoard with myViewBoard software.

For informal collaboration, an organization can place ViewBoards at various spots in the halls or lobbies of a corporate office. For companies that have moved away from the open-office concept, a huddle room for scrum meetings or even an open space becomes a natural location for people to meet and have unplanned discussions. Collaboration can then more easily happen where people come together.

In such cases, the ability to write, draw, and express ideas can make the difference between a passing conversation and chance for substantive brainstorming. ViewBoard’s 20-point touchscreen design and support for multi-touch pens allows multiple people to interact with the display using its basic annotation capabilities.

For greater capabilities, the ViewBoard includes slots for the addition of an open pluggable specification (OPS) PC or Intel® Smart Display Module (Intel® SDM) PC running an Intel® Core vPro processor.

The ViewBoard can run ViewSonic myViewBoard software, which supports hybrid cloud or on-premises hosted personal digital whiteboards. Business collaboration often requires productivity software. The interactive display can run a broad variety of popular third-party software. Participants might brainstorm ideas, capture them in a Word document or edit a PowerPoint presentation, and store these in Google Drive.

Internet connectivity allows users to bring in resources from across the web or from intranets, whether documents, images, websites, audio, or other resources. Technology can create a collaborative result impossible to duplicate with an ordinary whiteboard.

And as with any digital workspace, security is important. That's why ViewBoard and myViewBoard software employ a variety of encryption and protective measures to keep communications as well as video and audio data private and safe.

Moving to the Meeting Room

A more formal setting for collaboration can happen within a conference room or lecture hall. In such cases, the approach must change. There may be too many people to stand around a board, or due to a session’s length, people might wish to sit.

Intel Unite expands the interactive possibilities through screen sharing on laptops, notebooks, tablets, or smartphones. Participants can see the screen and, if the presenter or instructor allows it, make annotations on their devices that appear on all the other displays, including the ViewBoard. An open platform, it can support Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, Apple iPads, Android, Chromebook, and Linux.

Use of myViewBoard's personalization settings adds flexibility and depth to presentations. An organization might create templates with preferred backgrounds, apps, or corporate cloud storage. By making these items into a preset configuration, the entire organization can have a consistent experience regardless of their location. Employees traveling can apply this preset profile to any ViewBoard by logging in to their accounts, wherever the meeting might be.

Portability is also important within a single building. A group might find that someone had already reserved a meeting room, and so have to move to another. The ability to bring the same presentation with you through myViewBoard ensures a meeting will proceed as expected.

End-to-end seamlessness can be particularly important in education. Whether at the primary, secondary, or postsecondary level, a teacher might develop a lesson plan at home, save it to Google Drive, and either teach in person at a school ViewBoard or work from another location with remote screen-sharing via the web. Students as well can participate remotely. Another feature, myViewBoard Throw, allows teachers to share images or Word or PDF documents from a mobile device to ViewBoard.

Add People to the Process

Even with so much work or learning from home or while traveling, people needn’t be absent from collaboration or lack engagement. Digital collaboration can support full remote access. With ViewBoard and myViewBoard, people can join a presentation or training session from wherever they are and fully participate. Teams remain more cohesive. Students can keep up with lessons.

As ViewBoard can load presentations and content, it can save them as well, which further expands participation. Each person can save a session for future reference. Or a teacher or moderator can save the presentation on Google Drive and forward it to others.

Bring All Organizations Together

Enterprises and organizations in education, healthcare, and government all need the ability to collaborate, whether to foster innovation, engagement, or digital transformation. The right technology, strategically applied, can enable people to work and learn together and enable the type of interactivity that can lead to success.

About the Author

Erik Sherman is a journalist, analyst, and consultant with a background in engineering, technology, and business management. He's written about such topics as semiconductors, enterprise software, logistics, software development, advertising technology, scientific instruments, biotechnology, economics, finance, marketing, and public policy.

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