Are your meetings failing? Delivering a perfect meeting can play a huge role in clinching a deal — but if the video conference won’t connect or the time changes at the last minute, closing the sale or accomplishing internal goals on the agenda becomes hard work.
Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology Group, says there are four critical questions everyone should ask when it comes to meeting room technology and space planning/management:
- How can I organize the perfect meeting?
- How do we avoid bad behaviors, which can cause poor utilization and wasted technology spend?
- What factors should I consider when planning my new meeting space or re-design?
- How can integrated technology provide better tools so facility management and the CIO can improve space utilization and the user experience?
Just over 20 years ago, NFS began as a hospitality business selling into the hotel and restaurant sector, and it’s now a leader in meeting room software for corporate and conference centers. “Today we have a whole range of products that not only span the hospitality space but also the meeting room and meeting management space, which is a hot topic in the corporate world,” says De Souza.
Among its capabilities, Rendevous, the meeting room software from NFS, helps employees:
- book space;
- manage space;
- report on utilization;
- move meetings; and
- arrange complex multi-location meetings.
“Our meeting room software clients are typically large law firms and large financials but we also have a lot of clients in the mid-market sector where they are arranging specialized meetings that involve collaboration, services such as catering, and using video conferencing,” De Souza explains (see case studies).
“When some people are looking at their space or maybe building a new space they don’t always think how they are going to manage it.
“Our approach is increasingly not just about meeting scheduling but about making the meeting perfect. There are so many obstacles to that — for instance, when you walk into the room and the technology doesn’t work — so in you lose 15 minutes getting everything to work.
“In the real world, too, meetings change a lot. On the day you can have different people attending, people dropping out, locations changing, catering no longer needed.”
Booking meetings is becoming increasingly complicated because they are increasingly global and attendees are becoming more and more mobile. Services often needed to be provided at short notice.
“Rather than thinking about the space, think about the meeting, think about how you can have that perfect meeting experience for everyone” – Luis De Souza.
“It’s not about the people in the room, it’s about the people who are joining that meeting in a collaborative way – and about what meeting room software they are using to do that.
The 3 main elements to consider:
- Make sure you have a good scheduling tool that can manage the changes in the meeting arrangements.
- Ensure your services are seamlessly integrated, so they inform service providers when there’s a change to catering, or AV etc.
- Remember that attendees may not necessarily be sitting together in a room — they might be in a Starbucks or connecting from home.
“For example, I recently did three presentations in two days on the road. I wasn’t in a meeting room but the participants were — and I had to join through the collaborative tools that were offered to me with one click to join the meeting,” notes De Souza.
“The world of the meeting is moving on now, and for us it’s about delivering the perfect meeting solution.”
It’s also important to make sure everyone involved gets the right communication: maybe the AV provider doesn’t need to know about what is going on with Reception for instance.
De Souza says: “Our scheduling platform has service center reporting, so the moment you make a change to the meeting such as adding catering, the right people are notified.
“Our notification engine looks at the meeting, looks at the timing and automatically sends the messages out at the best time. It means meeting users and hosts don’t have to worry about all that.”
The way forward with hardware…
NFS is primarily a software business and finds that the best model for serving clients is for their meeting room software to connect seamlessly to hardware platforms they have chosen.
“Typically the client is in the best position to decide on the right design, the right hardware and the right format for that meeting space,” says De Souza.
“So when we connect we have about half a dozen different integrations, including one with Crestron, a well-established player in the market, who can connect the digital signage with the panels, with the in-room technology and with the building technology.
“At recent ISE show we launched a new app that’s running on the Crestron panel, and has gone down very well.”
NFS meeting room software — Rendezvous — also integrates with other panel and signage providers.
“We’ve moved away from saying ‘we will connect’ to going further back in the chain and asking ‘what solution is the customer trying to solve?’ In the AV industry, we need to do more of that,” says De Souza.
“It’s not just about scheduling but about addressing the more complex challenges of the client, and understanding through our partnerships how can we bring people and parties together for the best solution.
“Clients are getting a lot smarter with expectations — they are looking for an overall solution with their meeting room software.”
NFS are meeting experts who understand what goes wrong in meetings and what makes them perfect. “We take a consultative approach and identify which pain points are recognized in the client’s organization,” said De Souza.
Here’s a common example…
No-shows are a problem for many organizations that have invested heavily to create great meeting spaces. Yet there’s often no way to track no-shows or to release unused space.
“Our answer is to integrate our meeting room software with sensor technology so our client can know who is in the room without sending a person to see,” says De Souza.
“We can also release the room automatically to make it available for another booking. In an unused room, the system turns down the lights down and switches off the air conditioning.”
Changing behaviors for the better…
De Souza says the need to promote good behavior is becoming a significant driver in the market. “Our clients are increasingly interested in how we can make the technology more engaging so it encourages users to interact with it, promoting behavior change.
“One thing we’ve found really effective is how we use notifications.
“So we can send a reminder the day before a meeting, or if there’s a meeting in the afternoon, we can send it in the morning — people don’t read their emails all day.
“The notification asks them to click to confirm if they are going to use the room and if they still want catering. If they don’t confirm you can to call or send a notification to say ‘this meeting room booking has been as you haven’t confirmed’.
“These are the ways we can drive better behavior through better communication – and deliver perfect, well-attended meetings every time.”