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The benefits of SMART boards in the meeting room

At Smarter Interactive we often give demonstrations of SMART Boards as we are keen to help businesses see the benefits of SMART Boards in the meeting room. However, perhaps the best way to show how beneficial SMART Boards are is to give you a real life case study of a company that already uses SMART technology. Our first case study features The Microsoft Technology Centre in Reading. The Centre has been established for nine years and it runs regular sessions and workshops that help Microsoft customers to accelerate their adoption of new technologies.

Initially Microsoft used traditional white boards to capture feedback and run brainstorming sessions. The whiteboards were intuitive, simple, and presented no technical barriers to anyone in the room. However, the feedback Microsoft received was that here they were talking about the latest technology yet still using pen and ink to capture information. At this point the manager of the centre realised that something was going to have to change to bring the company into the 21st century.

The company now has two SMART Board interactive whiteboards or displays in each meeting room. Even though the whiteboards allow unlimited pages and scrolling, the dual boards have been implemented to allay fears that users wouldn’t be able to fit everything on one board. Once the boards were installed there were some issues with staff understanding how to use them, but very quickly people forgot that they were writing on what is essentially a computer screen and began to use them like a traditional whiteboard. The benefits of the SMART boards, though, mean that Microsoft staff can engage more quickly with customers in the room – because they can write and draw on one board, and the customer can do the same on the other board at the same time.

The boards have also proved to be a big draw to the workshops, enticing customers into the sessions. As the centre manager, Martyn Davis explains: “We’ve all been in meetings where you need to get momentum going, but people want to play with these boards, so it’s a tool that helps us accelerate that process. For brainstorming, these SMART Boards are fantastic. We have an infinite supply of white board space, plus all the tools you would expect from software: duplication, editing, and exporting in a format that’s instantly usable by others.”

In the past the centre staff used to spend a lot of time typing up meeting notes for clients after the workshops. SMART boards have given them back this time, because every session is automatically saved and the information exported to PDF or Powerpoint for clients to take away with them. With the time this frees up, Microsoft has been able to increase the number of sessions they run, meaning more opportunities for businesses to explore new techno logy

There are 28 Microsoft Technology Centres worldwide, and they are all equipped with SMART Boards, and the idea is spreading to board rooms and development labs. “When we want to do a briefing and the development team is in London and the business guys are in New York, previously, we used Microsoft Lync and video conferencing to get through it. Now we can write something in the UK and have the same thing appearing in the US, and have a good quality video experience at the same time, so we soon forget we’re in different locations. The value of that session goes up greatly for all parties involved. We’re now able to work a lot more effectively with global partners than we could before, and I feel more confident in offering solutions to talk to people around the world,” said Martyn.

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