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How to pick the right equipment for your huddle room

How to pick the right equipment for your Huddle Rooms

06 June 2018

As huddle rooms gain popularity in the business environment, organisations are facing an opportunity to kit out brand new spaces with state-of-the-art collaboration technologies. But, with the market so saturated and the risk of interoperability issues high, where should businesses start?

Before we look specifically at tools for the huddle room, it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about how to successfully roll out collaboration initiatives in the workplace.

What’s the state of collaboration in businesses today?

“Collaboration” is a hot topic for businesses of all sizes. Its value has been widely accepted across a range of industries, and for many organisations it’s a key priority for 2018-19.

Historically, business collaboration has often been approached by implementing a range of communications tools and equipment from a variety of vendors that allow employees to work together from various locations (e.g. desk, meeting room, home and on the road). This often results in a stew of incompatible tools working independently, with each fulfilling a specific role; meeting and huddle room technologies work separately from desk tools, video conferencing tools are difficult to use, there’s no training, and meeting set ups are laborious and unproductive as a result. Let’s not even get started on the exorbitant cost of subscribing to multiple vendor solutions!

It’s a common belief that collaboration only occurs in meeting room environments, and it’s partly because of this mentality that many businesses have arrived at a state of collaboration flux. Successful business collaboration is fluid, and should be able to occur from anywhere and at any time. Meeting rooms and huddle rooms should offer an extension to an organisation’s collaboration capabilities, rather than act as a focal point.

Fortunately, the unified communications and collaboration space is evolving rapidly. Big players like Cisco and Microsoft are influencing the marketplace, and forcing vendors and customers alike to think about how they approach their collaboration objectives, stay under budget, and achieve an ROI on their investments.

Enough scene setting… how do I pick my huddle room equipment?

If you’re leading your huddle room refresh project by starting with a preferred screen or video conferencing camera, you might fall into trouble down the line. Starting with the collaboration platform and applications that you either plan to use, or are currently using, is a much safer and more effective alternative.

Tools such as Cisco Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) and Skype-for-Business dominate the business collaboration software market, but don’t always play nicely with the hardware you might want to use in your huddle rooms. Think about the programs you want to use across your whole business, and then talk to a collaboration specialist to build a huddle room equipment package that integrates with your network and applications perfectly, is simple to use, and makes meetings productive, interactive and effective.

Knowing the platform(s) your organisation wants to use and sticking to that decision allows you to select the best collaboration equipment and huddle room setups such as screens, cameras, microphones, speakers and phones. Once you’ve agreed on a platform, you can consider your company’s bespoke requirements, consider how the huddle room will be utilised, and then implement the equipment at the last phase of the plan.

It's easy to be blown away by the many features of today's leading interactive displays, or the extended capabilities of particular video conferencing tools. But, before you invest in a particular piece of hardware, make sure you're 100% set on the platform(s), and know your business requirements. Only then can you make an informed decision about whether hardware option A or hardware option B is right for you.

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