Jackson on smart collaboration tools


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 1 2019)

The way we work has changed dramatically over the past few years. Mobile terminal devices are allowing work to be carried out anywhere and are highly attractive to many employees. However, despite all the flexibility, collaboration remains a fundamental factor – not only for the creative process. But technology is even entering this sphere: we spoke to Birgit Jackson, Commercial Director Europe at Sharp Visual Solutions, about the new Windows Collaboration Display and the role of technology in collaboration. 

With your Windows Collaboration Display, you paid special attention to the intelligent utilisation of work areas. Please explain what it’s about.

The Windows Collaboration Display includes IoT sensors, which respond sensitively to the room ambience and transmit information from the meeting environment to the Microsoft Azure Digital Twins platform – data that includes air humidity and air quality, lighting, temperature and information on room occupancy. To this end, facility managers can react to deviations from the optimum working conditions more swiftly and simply and correct these if necessary.

How important is intelligent office networking for businesses, and why?

Offices of the future will be characterised by connectivity and interaction. As the need for meetings will continue to rise correspondingly, it will be increasingly important for employees to have a fast overview of suitable rooms when scheduling meetings. As a result of their intelligent sensors, modern screens such as the WCD recognise whether there are people present in meeting areas and automatically switch themselves on. This information is transmitted to a room reservation system, which manages the availability of the rooms. If a reserved conference room is not in use, it can immediately be released again, hence optimising room utilisation. Furthermore, the information collated by the IoT sensors can also optimise the management of heating and air-conditioning systems and adapt these to the room’s actual utilisation. This helps increase the productivity of meetings and cut costs.

What other special features does the Windows Collaboration Display offer?

The Sharp WCD has been optimised for such well-known Microsoft tools as Office 365, which is used in most organisations. This offers businesses a digital hub for team work: as part of Office 365, Microsoft Teams unites entertainment, content and tools on a central platform, considerably simplifying information exchange.

How can this support meetings and conferences?

Meeting participants can be easily connected using this device and can start working together immediately. The interactive screen therefore becomes the core of all meeting rooms, bringing employees on site and at external locations worldwide together. On the one hand, this allows meetings to be arranged and started sooner and, on the other hand, be even more productive and creative.

You have a strong partner supporting you in the form of Microsoft. What does the collaboration within this project look like?

The collaboration with Microsoft – as one of the corporate office market leaders – enables us to view an expanded user group. The Windows Collaboration Display has been developed in accordance with the specifications defined by Microsoft and has been optimised for using Teams and Skype for Business.

What have you been able to learn from each other or how have you been able to benefit from each other?

This is a fantastic partnership which unites the Microsoft standards with Sharp’s leading screen technology. The respective project teams on both sides work closely together. We share the vision of integrating intelligent cloud solutions into the working environment in order to make meetings more interactive and productive.

What positive developments have you observed in businesses working with the Windows Collaboration Display?

The Windows Collaboration Display will be available from summer 2019 onwards. Our experience to date is based on feedback on the product concept. As an intelligent, interactive, next-generation 4K display, it will simplify and improve collaboration within companies. Here, simple connection to mobile terminal devices and fast access to video meetings are intuitive and self-explanatory. The integrated IoT sensors form the basis for intelligent workplace management: facility management costs can be reduced and meetings become more productive.

How do you see the working environment further developing over the coming years?

To make meetings productive, businesses must create the corresponding technological prerequisites. These also include interactive, simple-to-use screens, with which contents can be quickly processed and shared. Greater investment in collaboration displays is correspondingly one of the main trends. Here, the displays are becoming increasingly intelligent: digital surfaces and large-scale displays – which can be operated by means of touch, gesture or voice – are on the rise. Virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence are opening up new dimensions of collaboration, whereby the space is being redefined. VR enables a real meeting experience without the attendees actually being present, for example.

What fascination does the topic of the intelligent workplace harbour for you?

The topic of the ‘intelligent workplace’ places a major focus on the needs of the individual employees and the way in which we collaborate. Here, it is not just about the technology and the environment, but also about how we as people use these to make our work productive. Even today, we have so many possibilities at our disposal for analysing our workplace and designing our working environment – the trick lies in being able to transform these possibilities into concrete applications that optimise the potential of businesses and employees.

Moving forwards, what are your other projects?

We are currently working on launching the first Windows Collaboration Display generation. Furthermore, we are building a network of eco partners, which will use the concept in order to offer intelligent IoT solutions based on the Microsoft Azure platform.

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As an innovator and globally-leading manufacturer of display technologies, Sharp offers a comprehensive selection of displays and display solutions. The Cloud Portal Office, a service for exchanging and storing information and work processes, allows businesses to network more intensively and design processes more efficiently and productively.

Picture credit © Morsa Images/Getty Images

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