Commercial Integrator 2023 - 66

Offices of the Future
Comparing Options for ConferenceRoom
Collaboration Systems
Considering the benefits and drawbacks of BYOD, drop-in video bars
and integrated systems. By David Maldow
WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT, we suddenly found ourselves using
video for just about everything. It would seem reasonable
to assume that, as some of us come back to the office and
settle into our " new normal, " we would start to use less video.
As it turns out, the opposite is true. The " new normal " requires
more video - not less!
The reality is that many of us, whether we call ourselves
" hybrid " or " flexible, " will still be working from home much of
the time. Every in-office meeting will have multiple at-home
attendees. In other words, every meeting is now a video
meeting. So, every potential meeting space in the office
needs to support video. That's a lot more video!
Not surprisingly, the market has responded with countless
options to provide video for your meeting rooms. Those
options include some unique and even oddball products.
In this article, we will look at the three basic options: bring
your own device (BYOD), a drop-in video-bar appliance with
built-in codec, and integrated systems.
Each of those options has its costs and benefits, and each
will be better suited for certain room types. Let's take a closer
look at all these options so we can be sure we are making
the right choices for our meeting rooms.
BYOD
Why make things complicated? Everyone at the office has a
laptop or tablet - or at least a phone. Everyone has Microsoft
Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc., running on those devices. So, just have
someone dongle to the screen in the meeting room and voila!
This is a low-cost/no-cost option. Everyone is just using
their personal devices, and most meeting rooms already have
a monitor in place. Sharing from device to screen is generally
not a big challenge. For users with literally no budget, BYOD is
the default option.
But BYOD isn't just low cost; it's also flexible. By that, I mean
every meeting room supports every meeting service. It doesn't
matter which app your meeting attendees want to use. They
can (theoretically) use any app on their laptops, tablets or
phones. Allowing participants to use their app of choice can
improve the user experience by reducing frustration.
At the end of the day, BYOD undeniably does the job. It
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Commercial Integrator JUNE 2023
does not provide the same quality of experience, ease of use
and other benefits that the other options we will explore do,
but it does the job. In other words, the limitations of BYOD
become more obvious when you examine the benefits of the
other options.
But one limitation of BYOD is worth stating here: BYOD
cannot run room video software. By that, I'm referring to the
fact that Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex all have their
regular meeting services, as well as separate room services.
Those room services have important benefits, such as having
a meeting calendar on the screen with click to join, AI camera
angles, centralized management and more.
Unfortunately for BYOD setups, these room versions of
your favorite meeting services aren't available as apps for personal
devices. Generally, they are available only by purchasing
an appliance or kit from a hardware partner of the video
company, with the room software pre-installed. You could
theoretically set up a dedicated PC in a meeting room and
install room software on it, but that isn't BYOD. And, at that
point, it would be easier and about the same cost to start
looking at existing appliances and kits.
Each conference-room collaboration system has its costs
and benefits, and each will better suit certain room types.
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Commercial Integrator 2023

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