Exclusive: Chris Wood, Sharp business unit director forvisual solutions explains how companies can get their digital and interactive choicesright.

Introducing interactive digital tools to help people work together more effectively has become a hot topic for most companies. Interactivity allows for greater collaboration between colleagues, and increasingly frees the movement of digital data between staff and locations, ensuring we are working as effectively as possible.

Choosing the right interactive solution – perhaps to replace a projector or non-interactive display – can be daunting, especially if this technology and way of working is new to an organisation and its employees. This is where integrators can add real value, using their expertise and insight to help businesses select the products that are right for them.  

So, what do businesses need to consider when purchasing an interactive display? And what support can integrators offer throughout this process?

Right Room, Right Screen 

Choosing the ideal location for an interactive display is very important. There was a time that the latest technology would always be found in the boardroom first, where it added prestige but was often used less frequently.

Now that interactive displays come in a range of price-points and panel sizes, choosing where the panel will sit is more about meeting the needs of those who will use it, rather than just those who will see it. With exposure to a wide variety of sites and setups, integrators are in a unique position to advise businesses on what will work best for their specific needs.

Regardless of the panel size, the screen needs to work with the room. It may be that an organization has a number of rooms all of differing shapes and sizes that require interactive displays, so choosing a product range that works with the same software, in the same way, regardless of size should certainly be considered.

It’s also important to think about how people will use the screen – if it is mainly for presentations and larger meetings, then a larger screen in a meeting room works well. But if there are small teams who need to collaborate together, then a small ‘Huddle Space’ setup would be the most practical approach.

Getting Connected

Simplicity and ease of setup are vital to delivering a great interactive experience. After all, an interactive display that demands specific drivers, software licencing and a manual as long as your arm, simply won’t work in the modern office or business environment.

People want to be connected instantly, be able to collaborate with their colleagues, and generally get on with their day job as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Connections need to work first time, every time without the need to find the right cables, remote control, or special pen.

An interactive display that can offer a connection through the standard Windows interface simply by connecting a HDMI or USB cable is what is required. This is a solution that will work first time, every time with no additional setup.

For even greater flexibility, wireless connectivity can give a business the ability to add multiple participants regardless of device, making the sharing and managing of on-screen content even easier. This means that the interactive display actually gets used and doesn’t just end up as a costly display screen in the corner of the room – an important insight that many first-time buyers may not consider.

Touchscreen Options 

Interactive touchscreen technology has come a long way in recent years and is now an everyday part of life – from smartphones and tablets, up to the latest large screen interactive displays, we all look for an intuitive and easy-to-use way of working.

What’s more, with the touch capabilities now available in your standard Windows operating system, users can annotate directly into the most popular and heavily used business software packages such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.  So, at an entry-level there is no need to have any “special” interactive software installed on a computer – and the same should apply to an interactive display.

If additional features are required, such as dedicated brainstorming or detailed planning tools, then advising a business to go for intuitive, easy-to-use software – which will be available to users without additional licence costs – is definitely the way to go.

Bring Your Own Device

It is increasingly common practice for businesses of all sizes to issue employees with a laptop, and maybe even a smartphone, as soon as they join the company. However, these standardised tools may not suit all users, and as a result BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has become an established part of the modern work space.

At one time, allowing employees to use a diverse range of devices would have been an IT nightmare. However, interactive displays such as Sharp’s BIG PAD can interact with and collaborate with devices – be they Windows, IOS, Android or a mixture of all – and this is a huge benefit for many organisations.

Reducing Travel Costs 

Meetings are an everyday fact of business life but that no longer means we must always meet face-to-face. Video conferencing as a way of collaborating with colleagues is becoming more and more popular. Not only does it help us reduce travel costs, and therefore also our carbon footprint, it helps make us better at handling time more effectively and therefore more productive.

To this end, interactive touch display that can seamlessly integrate with a video conferencing solution can be vital to ensuring that collaborative working with colleagues is a success in any business.

Return on Investment 

Finally, but certainly not in any way least, is the consideration of cost. Businesses need to understand that choosing the lowest cost solution is not always best practice. An interactive display should instead be viewed as a considerable investment in a company’s collaborative future.

So, a brand known for quality is absolutely the sensible choice – the old adage ‘buy cheap – buy twice’ can be paraphrased here to read ‘buy cheap – go back to the old ways’.

Ultimately, quality and simplicity of use will ensure the successful adoption of new equipment, and provide a business with a genuine return on its investment. After all, no one will embrace a new solution if it is difficult to use, fails them at the critical time, or is generally not making them more productive.

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