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Reinventing the Whiteboard

Author: Irwin Lazar, VP & Service Director

The nearly ubiquitous whiteboard has proven itself to be a valuable tool for teams working together in a meeting space to take notes, flesh out ideas, and capture tasks for post-meeting completion. But for those meeting participants not physically in the room, the whiteboard is useless since they cannot see it or add content to the discussion.

To overcome these limitations, a number of vendors have introduced collaboration products designed to enable people to see, share, and manipulate content on a large screen or wall, regardless of location. Two broad classes of products exist: Digital whiteboards that are typically large touch screens, and immersive group collaboration platforms that join multiple screens, or project onto, and enable manipulation of, content on walls.

Nearly 24% of organizations are using these systems today, while another 47% are evaluating them for potential future use, but current deployments are limited to pilots or a small number of conference rooms used by teams with demonstrated needs for content sharing and manipulation. They are not yet widely deployed across all content rooms often due to cost, lack of interoperability, requirements for customers to have already deployed a vendor’s team collaboration solution, and lack of demonstrable business case.

IT and business leaders should:

  • Evaluate potential use cases for these systems within your organization. Understand that one size may not fit all and while a digital whiteboard may meet the needs of one group, another may find more demonstrable value in an immersive group collaboration system.
  • Evaluate systems from your existing collaboration suppliers as well as standalone offerings. Determine the relative importance of integration with your existing or planning collaboration platforms versus the need for the ability to run third-party applications.
  • Develop business cases that look for both potential cost savings as well as process improvements.
  • Evaluate network impact, especially if planning to deploy multiple systems across distributed locations that will require synchronized content display and manipulation.
  • Determine a support model, assigning responsibility to either IT or facilities based on how you handle other in-room systems like videoconferencing and shared computers.
  • Conduct pilots of various types of systems with teams who can best benefit from distributed, virtual collaboration. These are likely to include engineering, product development, sales and marketing, and software organizations that engage in frequent group development of ideas, products, and documents.

Table of Contents
  • Table of Figures
  • Executive Summary
  • The Issue
  • The Problem: Virtual Teams and Content Sharing
  • Digitizing the Whiteboard
    • Digital Whiteboards
    • Immersive Group Collaboration Systems
  • Show Me the Use Cases
  • What’s Missing?
  • Conclusion and Recommendations
  • Methodology
    • By Industry
    • By Size
    • By Title
    • For Further Information


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