English version (1,9MB) - Communications Business Solutions

Afgiftekantoor 9099 Gent X / P.508718/Bimestriel
Nr 44 February - March 2015
Do you speak Business ?
Of course, SMEs rarely have the same concerns as big international companies.
However, they must remain ready to deal with any eventuality.
One sticky issue that big companies are faced with is that of simultaneous translation
when holding meetings with their counterparts from foreign countries.
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The log book of a « typical »
The following is a testimony that we are
When the whiteboard can share its content realtime….everything can be viewed everywhere!
The Evolution of Hybrid Meetings
Whiteboards are that indispensable tool in every meeting. You
Meeting planners will always rank increasing face-to-face
it and begin again. To capture the content maybe you furiously
leaders in the industry are working to put a portion of that
write and draw, ideas on it. You erase what you have written on
type notes, or more recently you’ve started taking pictures with your
Page 3
publishing, that of Thomas Gregg, vice president
registration numbers as the top priority, but many of the
of Partner & Solution Enablement. It is interesting
in more than one respect…
Let’s listen to him.
F2F (Face-to-Face) experience into a virtual package. .
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A Very Practical Video Conference Room!
Top-notch technology and design! Those were the
specifications Axeos had in mind when creating XPOD.
It’s a nice small booth fitted with a sliding door.
Measuring roughly three meters in diameter, it can hold
up to three people. It is designed specifically to meet
high quality standards.
Page 7
What Are the Future Trends for Digital Signage?
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Measuring one’s feet to save oneself a lot of trouble!
Finding one’s way …. Three reliable methods!
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The six crucial elements of a meeting room
Do you want to refurbish your corporate meeting room? Perhaps you are even prepared to create
one from scratch.
o many elements are required in a modern meeting room that it is becoming
increasingly difficult to know…..where
to start! However, good equipment can have
a large impact on the effectiveness of your
No « spaghetti » effect!
The good projection screen….is a key element… Large screens have assumed a leading position in recent years, taking the place
of the traditional projector. Nevertheless,
there are still some places, generally very
large, that require images of larger format
and where projectors still rule the roost. The
fact remains that choosing the right screen
requires preliminary reflection. Size, technology, contrast, luminosity and capabilities
are to be taken into account. You need to do
some research and opt for the equipment that
you think will best meet your expectations.
Connectivity has become wholly indispensa-
ble. In absolute terms, all electronic
devices must be capable of working together in a transparent manner. It must
be ensured that every device is able
to send its information to the screen,
for example. A direct cable connection
will be needed, but provisions should
also be made for WiFi, Bluetooth, and
all the wireless technologies that enable tablets and smartphones to have
their say (and display an image)!
Avoid hindrances caused by cables!
Despite the « wireless » era we are
now living through, there are still a lot
of them about. You must make sure
they remain invisible, not only for aesthetic reasons but also to prevent them
from becoming entangled (the famous
« spaghetti effect ») and interfering
physically with the work and the connections!
Be particular about the furniture used.
Contrary to preconceived notions, it is
not always a good idea to opt for er-
iboardtouch alternative meeting
gonomic and comfortable chairs! If you want
meetings to be shorter, the chairs must be designed in such a way that it is
difficult, even impossible, to
lean back in them. With the
same goal in mind, the meeting room table should not offer extensive leg room. The
slight discomfort this causes will ensure that the participants stay focused, leaning forward and not inclined
to relaxation. On the other hand, if you favor longer
meetings, comfort will be
all-important and the chairs
will be well-padded and have
As for the ideal shape of the
table, experts agree that it
is trapezoidal. This unusual
shape ensures that no-one
can impede visibility towards the screen or
the speaker. Lighting…..it must be plentiful
enough to allow the taking of notes and reading. It must not create interfering shadows.
The light must be diffused so that it is distributed as evenly as possible. Spotlights should
never be the principle source of light in a
meeting room. They will be used, at most, for
aesthetic purposes, while making sure that
none of them is directed at the screen.
Finally, sound…. Loudspeakers arranged in
the ceiling are the most common solution.
But if the room is used for videoconferences as well, they should instead be positioned
next to the screen to avoid confusion (images and sounds coming from different places). Curtains, plants and tapestries are welcome, as they reduce reverberation and the
echo effect. With this aim in mind, we also
advise you to avoid glass tables, which reflect sound waves and, in this way, cause
E-mail: sales@prysm.com
Website: www.prysm.com
Stand: 11 - E64 at ISE
A perfect meeting room….
It is the first and foremost ingredient of communication in the enterprise. It is important
that it be equipped with state-of-the-art technologies.
s usual, the first stage consists
in evaluating the needs of the
end users. What do they need to
achieve their objectives and support their
activities? It is a key stage requiring the
gathering of comprehensive information
from a wide range of people who will use
the system.
« Outside the realm of technology »
Here we are « outside the realm of technology», for at this stage it is not a question of determining the make or quantity
of the microphones that will be necessary.
You simply try to find out what the user will
do in the meeting room.
Once this information has been gathered
and processed, the different technologies
that will be necessary have to be presented diagrammatically and divided into segments. Integration will be the watchword.
Both the meeting room table itself and the
layout of the room will have to allow « natural » integration, without problems, of the
different technologies. Cabling, monitors
and microphones will have to be an integral part of the whole.
It should be noted that the physical characteristics of the room will influence the
4K Display Prysm
E-mail: sales@prysm.com
Website: www.prysm.com
solutions that will be chosen. Is it long and
narrow? What are its original acoustics
like? Is there light entering from outside
(regular windows or bay window)? What
about the background noise? Does the
room tend to be warm? All this, of course,
must be taken into account and potential
problems mitigated.
The user interface is king!
Then comes the choice of presentation
equipment. Monitors or projector? Monitors, as we know, are less sensitive to ambient light. If the ceiling is high enough,
the projector solution is often the best
choice for very large rooms. It is easy to
use shutters or drapes to block out, partially or totally, the light from outside.
Microphones. You will have to choose between wired (the wires must be integrated
in the table) and wireless microphones.
The latter are more sensitive to interference but allow the user to move about the
room freely.
The acoustical design will be elaborated according to the characteristics of the
room, the aim being to avoid excessive reverberation and reduce background noise
through the use of sound insulation.
Care should be taken to ensure that ventilation is optimal. Air conditioning is not
indispensable, but often advisable. The
lighting must be adjustable and variable
according to needs. Also keep BYOD in
mind: with ever greater frequency, participants come with their own devices
(notebook, tablet, and smartphone). The
integration of these devices must be supported and their users must be able to recharge them easily and share their content
without problems. Connector technology
will play a key role, as well as the user interface. It is the user interface that is king!
And, generally, it is the user interface that
is the source of all the problems, as it
tends to be able to do everything, but via
complicated commands and menus. You
must choose a user interface that is as user-friendly as possible and never skimp on
its design.
Keizershoevestraat, 26
2610 Wilrijk - Belgium
Tel: +32 478 948951
Fax: +32 3 2397516
Email: jp.thys@cbsmedia.biz
Website: www.cbsmedia.biz
Publication Manager
Jean-Pierre Thys
Jean-Claude Lesuisse
Babel Ophoff Vertalingen
Jean-Pierre Thys
Keizershoevestraat, 26
2610 Wilrijk - Belgium
Communications Business Solutions is published
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When the whiteboard can share its content real-time….everything
can be viewed everywhere!
Whiteboards are that indispensable tool in every meeting. You write and draw, ideas on it.
ou erase what you have written on it and begin again. To capture the content maybe you
furiously type notes, or more recently you’ve
started taking pictures with your phone. It is used
in this way by facilitators of group discussions, leaders of creativity groups all day, office workers in
meetings all week and all year long. Whiteboards
are really indispensable. However, in the case of
new SMART kapp, they will be even more indispensable.
erasing, adding or removing a graphic or a drawing) is displayed instantly on the screen of the mobile device. The participants can therefore be kept
up to date (and in suspense) in two ways: by looking
at the screen in the room and by viewing their own
is connected via this system and who, while following the meeting, can also intervene where necessary
and submit comments vocally that can therefore be
taken into account immediately by the facilitator, who
changes the contents of the board in response- the
changes then appearing on all the screens.
Another excellent piece of news: this capability of reproducing the display is also available on mobile devices all over the world. From the mobile device, the
And that’s not all. SMART kapp also allows you to
record the complete session by taking digital screenshots. No more fuzzy photographs. Those screenshots can be saved in high resolution PDF or JPEG
files and downloaded to online accounts (Google
Drive, Evernote etc.) or they even be downloaded
on a USB stick to be sent anywhere instantly. This
means that participants no longer have to spend
time taking notes – they remain fully responsive and
SMART kapp is a real revolution to the traditional
whiteboard - SMART kapp allows you to operate in
the traditional way. The user experience is so simple
it even encourages you to continue using the board
just like a regular whiteboard – pick up a normal pen
and start writing. But then it offers a lot more.
For starters, with SMART kapp you can do straightforward remote sharing. It is well known that participants in discussions increasingly bring their mobile
devices with them. These may be personal smartphones, tablets or notebooks. SMART kapp offers
an app that can be downloaded for free. Located
at the bottom of the whiteboard is a QR code that
you only need to scan to start the download or an
NFC chip you can swipe if you have an Android device). Once started, the application faithfully reproduces the whiteboard on the screen of the mobile
device. All this happens in real time. This means
that the smallest action by the facilitator (writing,
SMART Technologies
E-mail: kappinfo@smarttech.com
Website: www.smartkapp.com
session leader can easily share the SMART kapp
session to anyone via URL. Anyone with a browser
on any device can then also view the board’s content in real-time. This means that sharing of the provided information is therefore done remotely as well,
which allows absent collaborators to participate in
the meeting and be fully responsive and attentive.
It is then easy to imagine a remote collaborator who
SMART kapp is a new way of approaching collaborative work, with no restrictions being attached to
There is no learning curve. If you know how to use a
traditional whiteboard, you will also know how to use
SMART kapp. No training is necessary. All you have
to do is plug it in.
Download our video:
SMART Technologies
Website: www.smartkapp.com
Hotel with Conference Room: A Perfect match!
More and more hotels in the world are integrating conference rooms and business equipment. They have good
reasons for doing so…
businesswomen who travel frequently say
this type of offer makes their life easier as it is clearly a « one-stop shop ».
Completely Hassle Free
The conference rooms of a hotel can
be easily booked since one is already
present in the establishment. One can
easily find out what will be provided and
what facilities will be available as part of
working order.
The hotels of major world-renowned chains, indeed, consider it their duty to offer topnotch services and superb
equipment. Obviously, that
also goes for their conference
It is also a question of reliability: Renowned hotels have operational services at any time
during the day and night. This means
businessmen and businesswomen are
sure they will be able to use their conference room when they want to.
Also, it is increasingly possible to use
high-quality videoconferencing services
in hotels. Connectivity there is very good
and one can communicate with companies around the world as well as with,
obviously, the other hotels that are part
of the same chain.
Catering and Networking
the various packages offered by
tel. Maintenance is guaranteed
equipped conference rooms are
ed as a turnkey solution and in
the hoas the
The problem of travel is completely
solved. The conference rooms are just
a stone’s throw from the bedrooms,
which means the time spent travelling
between them is reduced to a strict min-
imum, thereby using the corridors of the establishment without having to worry about the
weather and the outside temperature.
Similarly, the question of the
coffee breaks and meals can
be solved in a very effective
way. The establishment can
provide buffet services, if necessary also in the conference
room. Additionally, the hotel infrastructure houses several restaurants which,
obviously, can be frequented or booked
– again without the need to travel and
waste time in traffic jams. Moreover,
often the solution is mixed: people order sandwich meals and light beverages at noon, only to find themselves
going to the restaurant in the evening.
The « buffet » formula is particularly
appreciated as it allows participants to
find the type of food they are looking
for. These moments, too, are important because networking, which has
been known to be essential for informal exchange of information, has a
perfect place there. What’s more, since
the bedrooms are never very far away,
talks may continue beyond that.
Flat screen or projector? A dilemma.
Once one has decided to buy an AV system destined for one’s conference room, one is often faced with
a dilemma.
hat should one choose? A projector or
a large screen? Is one solution better
than the other?
A flat screen is often the more logical
In fact, not necessarily - it depends on how
you want to use the device. The choice will
be determined by space constraints, the size
of the room, the ambient light present there
and, obviously, by how much you want to
spend on it.
Rodney Laney, vice president of Display
Technology, makes this same point: « In
most present-day conference rooms, a
screen is often the more logical choice.
However, there are cases where the projector solution is the more suitable one ».
« A flat screen is necessarily limited in size,
which will be a maximum of 95 or 100 inches. This means that if a larger image is
needed, a projector will be the right choice
». Rodney also points out that there is a
sizeable price difference when one turns to
the larger flat screens. A projector is less
expensive when large images need to be
He also points out that projectors are not as
sensitive to ambient light as they were at the
outset, and can therefore be used satisfac-
torily in quite luminous environments, while
nevertheless excluding direct sunlight.
For large audiences, a projector is the
right choice!
With regard to the choice of a « monitor-projector », Rodney’s advice is even clearer: « The key
factor is the size of the audience. If it is larger
than 50 persons you will need
to resort to a projection system,
with the size of the screen being limited by the height of the
ceiling. If the ceiling is too low,
you can opt for the alternative
that consists in setting up multiple screens located strategically around the room. If a large
quantity of data is projected, the
projectors have the advantage of
being able to vary its size (zoom
function) so that the most distant
participants can see it properly.
Videos are more suited to flat
screens, which nowadays are
almost all high-definition ».
Finally, Rodney thinks that it is
preferable to choose professional equipment rather than resort to consumer devices. Professional equipment is designed
to run permanently and offers a higher level of
security in tougher working conditions.
A final word concerning the BYOD trend (employees bring their own devices – smartphones,
tablets and computers). There is no need to
be concerned about connectivity: smartphones
and tablets will be able to synchronize to the
network and display the images and videos
they contain.
How to Promote a Hybrid Event?
Promoting a hybrid event is quite similar to promoting a face-
to-face meeting.
he cannibalisation of the actual presence by
the hybrid version is a myth – that has been
demonstrated many times; so get this idea
out of your head for once and for all!
Change Tactics as the Event Approaches
Determine the best time for your event. Registration will need to occur taking this element into account.
People are interested in an event because of its
content. Consequently, you must be able to provide key information: the programme and content of the speeches as well as the names of the
Once the date has been set, advertising will occur
through various media.
By website. If you have a website for the event,
use it also to promote its hybrid version. Set up a
« registration » page offering two options: « faceto-face » and « hybrid ».
By e-mail. Its aim will be to promote the « faceto-face » meeting and the hybrid version at the
same time. But be sure to devote the majority of
the message to describing the face-to-face meeting. Dedicate just one short paragraph to the hybrid version.
However, as the date of the event draws nearer and once your participants have registered,
change tactics and start thoroughly promoting the
hybrid version.
Remember to customise your messages to the
target public you have previously segmented.
Keep the hybrid registration open as long as possible, even until the very day of the event, with a
message to the effect: « Join us TODAY ». Typically, the closer one gets to the start of a hybrid
event, the more people there are who are interested.
Keeping Alight the Sacred Fire
In order to « keep alight the sacred fire » among
those who previously already registered for the
hybrid version, it is recommended to regularly
send them reminders of how to connect, offering
various tips and tricks. Include a contact address
in case they experience any difficulty.
Advertising will also occur through social media.
Here, it will be a question of choosing the most
effective medium (the one most used by your target public). The words « tell your friends » will be
your ally and will allow for the modern version of «
word-of-mouth » to be activated.
Print. Paper is certainly not dead; it too is your ally. It
lends « substance », « credibility » to your offer. So
it would be a shame to do without. Send your documentation (pay close attention to the design and
keep it simple) to a public chosen. In it, also mention
the hybrid version, but do not discuss it too much.
Finally, contact groups, organisations and associations that might be interested in your event and
offer them « bonuses »; these can take the form of
a reduction, partnership or sponsorship.
Videoconferencing in a few simple questions
If you were planning to make use of videoconferencing, now is probably the right time to do it! The
technology is increasingly affordable and offers many benefits in innumerable sectors.
t the same time, it is still a new concept
for a large number of interested parties. A few questions and as many answers……..
An incredible return on investment
Does my company need videoconferencing? The advantages of videoconferencing
ensure better communication with remote
employees, any existing affiliates, and business partners. At the same time, it reduces travel costs (only those trips remain that
must really be undertaken physically) and
enables greater responsiveness in decision-making.
does it cost?
price varies considerably depending on
the needs of the customer. But one of the
main characteristics
of videoconferencing
is that it offers a very
appreciable ROI (return on investment).
A videoconferencing
system can « pay for
itself » within a few years, even months.
And the difference compared to Skype? It’s
not exactly the same thing. Although today’s videoconferencing systems can integrate Skype, videoconferencing offers much
more. It enables two persons or more to
connect with one another in private rooms
(point to point) or at several sites (multipoint). If it is true that basic videoconferencing only requires a camera and a microphone, the most sophisticated solutions
enable entire groups to communicate in a
transparent way with office computers and
shared data. Meetings and seminars can
also be recorded.
Continuous presence and multiple
Local or in the « cloud »? It depends on how you
will use the system. A growing number of companies are turning to the cloud since it allows
employees to use the system from where they
are located. The cloud also allows savings to
be made in equipment and maintenance, and it
works via an all-inclusive monthly fee. But if the
personnel are located mainly in offices or other
fixed places of business, a local videoconferencing system can always handle the task.
What is « continuous presence »? This, in fact,
is a common phrase referring to a feature available during video conferences that allows all participants to be visible on the screen at the same
time. If there are six persons, for example, the
screen will be split up into six windows, each one
offering a live video display of one of the participants. Continuous presence is very popular
nowadays, for small groups. Obviously, continuous presence is not achievable with large
groups. However, each window can contain the
image of a remote group and the camera can
zoom in on the image and show one of the persons in the group when he or she addresses the
When the cloud favors video communication
Cell phones abound and smartphones are seeing their market share increase
hey are being used with every
greater frequency by consumers
to take photos and shoot videos.
Seeing videoconferencing differently
Today we no longer need to use our imagination in order to guess what our remote dialog partners are doing, since we
can see them « live » on our screens.
And this is true whether we are sitting
on our couch, travelling, or on the way
to work. But when we want to communicate in the same way with our work colleagues, things are often different.
Two thirds of the information we communicate during a discussion is non-verbal. That is why audio telephone conferences are so stressful: it is impossible
to know what the other participants are
thinking. Are they smiling or are they
skeptical, for example…. As a result, we
are unable to adjust our words and our
behavior as we would spontaneously do
if we were participating in a real meeting
at one spot.
This is especially bothersome in the
business world, where it is a question
not only of trying to communicate but also of working together
with others on a daily basis. In fact, humans need to be able to
see one another. That is the reason why, as with what happens
in our private sphere, businessmen do not see videoconferencing
the same way as in the past.
Beware of the downside
Especially since things have changed tremendously in this field.
Already, we are accustomed to several applications (such as
Skype) and recognize the importance of vision, which considerably enriches speech.
Naturally, those who use Skype, Google Talk, Facetime or other applications for their personal communications tend to want to
use them at work. This phenomenon is similar to that of « BYOD »
(bring your own device) since it involves using « one’s own applications » at the office.
These solutions are good, in spite of their different qualities, and
they can be used to make short calls. Because they can be run
on a computer (or tablet), they are convenient.
But the downside is that they are not covered by the IT department and pose a security risk. In fact, it is not advisable to launch
a video collaboration program that is based solely on Skype. This
would be like building your complete email system on Hotmail.
A much richer experience
Today’s video communications are designed to meet the new demands of users. They require less bandwidth and are supported
by a hardware infrastructure that is less expensive than in the
past. In addition, telepresence and, more generally, high definition (HD) offer a much richer experience. The interoperability between different systems is also significantly better.
It is possible to develop a strategy that employs the most advanced technology for high-level meetings but also enables its
everyday use on workstations, tablets and smartphones. It would
also enable support of Skype (or others) when desired.
If a company uses Microsoft Lync (today Skype for Business),
there is a way for remote workers to participate in a meeting from
their device (desktop, notebook, tablet or smartphone), through
creation of a suitable place in the cloud. And since Ovum (an analyst firm) notes that 45% of European companies intend to rapidly
accelerate deployment of Lync (Skype for Business), this seems set to become the business
method par excellence.
Using the cloud!
The cloud and mobile services have changed the
way technology is used. Using the cloud means
that companies no longer have to make large investments in order to acquire and implement the
technology they need.
And this also applies to video collaboration technology, which is now accessible as a complete
With a solution based on the cloud, the cost is attractive (affordable monthly fee) and there are no
additional charges (« per call »). Budget planning
is therefore more efficient and the user-friendliness of the system encourages employees to use
it, so much so that productivity is improved by better communication.
These monthly fees include maintenance, which
means the end of continual worries. Some providers even enable use of any legacy equipment that
may be at the company’s disposal by integrating
into it the latest technology.
The world of work is changing. It is frequently the
case that employees travel the world to conduct
business while needing to continue working efficiently with their base.
The more video communication is used, the higher the profitability.
A Very Practical Video Conference Room!
Top-notch technology and design! Those were the specifications
Axeos had in mind when creating XPOD.
It’s a nice small booth fitted with a sliding door. Measuring roughly
three meters in diameter, it can hold up to three people. It is designed specifically to meet high quality standards.
It is well ventilated; its ceiling and interior walls (furnished with
blue fabric) are
as is the wooden floor (the
color of the carpet can be chosen). Additionally, the booth
features a presence detector
which controls
the lighting (two positions as standard) as well as Auto Standby.
Xpod can be easily installed anywhere in the world and the concept
allows for strictly identical rooms to be set up.
Xpod offers several ‘à la carte’ options. You can go with a complete, turnkey solution; choose the chairs (finish, type of base, fabric, wheels or headrest); opt for a table with integrated connection
box, a universal support for a 65-inch screen, a
casing which incorporates the video conference
technology, or you can demand specific lighting.
Have a look to our videos showing how easy you can
assemble our furniture on:
E-mail: rheissat@axeos.net
Website: www.axeos.net
The Evolution of Hybrid Meetings
Meeting planners will always rank increasing face-to-face registration numbers as the top priority, but
many of the leaders in the industry are working to put a portion of that F2F (Face-to-Face) experience
into a virtual package. .
ue to conflicting schedules and shrinking budgets, their members and prospective attendees are searching for remote learning opportunities.
ty to engage the globe with a virtual offering, too. With a
theme of “As One” at its 2014 Worldwide Convention,
McDonald’s debuted a new hybrid meeting to help bring
the theme to life and welcome its worldwide network of
owner-operators to the experience.
As the industry looks ahead to the next generation of
attendees, it’s clear that hybrid programming will play
an essential role in building strong communities with
connections that transcend the traditional borders
of a three- of four-day conference. What brought us
to this point? And where are we heading next? Let’s
take a look at the past, present and future of hybrid
Then: Navigating the Past Pitfalls of the Hybrid
Before looking ahead to the next wave of hybrid innovation, it’s important to remember the faint initial pulse
that started beating when the pioneers of hybrid technology began experimenting with a virtual offering. As
the worldwide economic recession rewrote the rules of
budget decisions, organizations feared the unknown.
What if the face-to-face
audience decides that the
online component satisfies the same set of motivations they had for traveling to the in-person event?
How could an organization
with already limited resources commit staff members to designing a virtual
program? Would remote
attendees actually want to
sit behind their screens for
the event? And of course,
the biggest question of all:
where was the money going to come from to pay for
the hybrid event?
Carolyn Clark, VEI Leadership
out worrying F2F attendees will stay home to save
Organizations are expanding their reaches further than
ever before. As North American and European associations and corporations alike outline international growth
strategies, hybrid meetings are playing a powerful role
Cannibalization fears have faded into the rearview. Consider PCMA’s (Professional Convention Management Association) Convening Leaders. When the organization launched its first
hybrid meeting, just a few hundred attendees
logged on. In 2014, the meeting’s hybrid portion
reached a record number of nearly 1,000 attendees. At the same time, the face-to-face component in Boston also reached a record-breaking
attendance number of more than 4,000. Other
meetings are seeing similar results, proving that
virtual and face-to-face sectors can coexist with-
Next: Previewing the Next
Steps in Hybrid Progress
While hybrid meetings have
come a long way, these offerings are still in relative infancy, and the road ahead
is crowded with massive potential. To capitalize on those
possibilities, meeting planners are facing a new set of
Are you keeping up with your
competition? With more organizations adopting hybrid
programs, meeting planners
must apply internal pressure within their own teams
to make sure they are adequately investing in an engaging virtual experience to
satisfy attendee needs.
Now: Unlocking the
Opportunities of Online
Over the past five years, meeting planners and technology suppliers have worked together to address
those challenging questions and find solutions to
pave the way toward successful hybrid initiatives.
Revenue streams are starting to flow. The monetization question is finding many potential answers.
From sponsorship dollars that cover some of the
tech expenses to virtual product showcases, hybrid organizers are finding partners who are willing
to pay to align their brands with hybrid experiences. Other organizations have proven that their hybrid
meetings are worth hard-earned attendee dollars.
At RSNA, after not charging for three consecutive
years, virtual attendees now pay a fee that ranges
from $100 - $300 (depending on member status) for
access to online content. For non-medical societies
with no accreditation restrictions, the monetization
opportunities live on well beyond the live streaming
of the event with OnDemand sessions available to
purchase for attendees who need continuing education credits.
in advancing those plans. At the Radiological Society of
North America’s most recent hybrid meeting, nearly 50
percent of the virtual audience was from outside North
America. Other organizations are recognizing the abili-
Are you offering enough content? As the costs of
technology decrease, hybrid organizers will need to
explore giving virtual attendees even more access to
educational courses.
Do you have the right training? Technology is
constantly changing, and hybrid meetings require the most up-to-date knowledge of which
tools and tactics will deliver the best experience.
Are you working with the right venue? From power needs to connectivity speeds to the level of
staff expertise, meeting planners must research
prospective host venues to ensure the building
can meet the demands of a hybrid meeting.
As the hybrid landscape continues to grow more
sophisticated, meeting planners can count on
virtualedgeinstitute.com to stay ahead of the
People are gathering and meeting in a way that differs from the past!
Today, the way people gather and meet has changed. The typical event goes beyond the simple goal of bringing
people together at a given place and moment in time.
or event professionals, it has become crucial to invest both in the
value of the physical meeting
AND in its impact over and above the
event. Amsterdam RAI has tracked the
major trends, which it already follows,
and has publicized these with the aim
of inspiring organizers, exhibitors and
all professionals active in the event business. Here are a few excerpts…..
Value is all-important
Value must be created for the visitors.
Physical meetings are still essential for
promoting trust between people and
creating and strengthening relationships. They enable a fruitful exchange
of inspirations, innovations and knowledge that boosts our business. At the
same time, virtual applications enrich
this exchange with an « on-line » « off-line » ballet that offers an unparalleled value - before, during and after
the event.
In fact, technology has changed the
way we remain in contact with one another. Events are fully interactive and
create value by linking physical meetings to « on-line » possibilities.
The success factors of an event include
the following ingredients: an attractive
destination, a personalized approach,
an enjoyable experience - with business
being blended with a touch of leisure,
and the provision of world-class services. The ROI (return on investment)
must be measurable and high-quality
structures and amenities are required.
Meetings, which are increasingly important, must be facilitated and optimized.
The tools made available by the organizers must help the participants to find
relevant contacts. Through the use of
hybrid elements it must be possible to
Amsterdam RAI
E-mail: welcome@rai.nl
Website: www.rai.nl
ensure the continuity of conversations
and dialogs between all visitors, on the
site and « on-line ». The Internet and
« apps » provide support in this respect.
Technology delicately weaves the
Each event must use technology to
enhance the experience of the participants. Augmented reality, holograms,
and digital signage will all come into
play, as well as small robots that the
visitors (real and on-line) can control
remotely. Physical visitors must be catered to on both the professional and
personal levels. It is also becoming indispensable to create programs dedicated to virtual visitors, with a view to
Amsterdam RAI
E-mail: welcome@rai.nl
Website: www.rai.nl
hybrid events, which are expanding
at an increasing rate. Personalization
too will be a watchword and will enable
« tailor-made » programs to be offered.
In effect, on the site of the event, person-tracking technology enables per-
Amsterdam RAI
E-mail: welcome@rai.nl
Website: www.rai.nl
sonal dissemination of relevant information that is adapted to the place where
the participant is actually located. This
tracking, coupled with the profile of the
visitor (who will have the opportunity to
list his needs beforehand), will enable
him to be supplied with news tailored
to his interests. It will be the same
for the exhibitors. This is an intelligent
segmentation, to which other variables
(« young people », « elderly people »,
« man », « woman », « nationality »
etc.) will be added via « natural » filters.
These, therefore, are a few important
points among many others. We would
add that the well-being of the participants must also be taken into consideration. Specific areas must be provided
for resting, the breastfeeding of babies,
reading and relaxation. Modern techniques, including music, aromatherapy,
colors and images, must also be used
to stimulate all five senses and, in this
way, promote well-being.
Why hotel supplied AV is a huge No-No
With tighter budgets being the new norm, conference organisers today are often tasked with seeking
out lower cost alternatives or even to avoid certain budget items from the conference planning process
altogether. When this happens; it can be so tempting to think of using in-house, hotel-supplied AV
equipment. After all, it’s just a projector or two, and a bunch of clip on microphones, right? Surely,
nothing could go wrong with those…?
on’t ever make the mistake of believing that in-house audio-video is the
route to follow in preference to hiring
the services of professional AV company. It
will only take you along a sure fire route to
conference failure. Here’s why…
Hotels aren’t really in the conferencing business. They really are in the venue, accommodation and food business; but that’s not
the same thing as being a true conferencing
Michael Jackson
Email: michael@theotermichaeljackson.com
Website: www.theothermichaeljackson.com
supplier. Most hotels, or even meeting facility venues, in truth only offer AV services as
an ‘add-on’; like they did (and continue to do
in desperation) with the landline telephone
next to the bedside table that no-one really
Bedside landlines were
nothing other than a
blatant attempt to generate additional revenue, in the pre-mobile
days, from travellers
who had no other way
of phoning home to tell
loved ones they were
safe. Do you remember being outraged at
what they charged? I
do; and that memory
will live with me a very
long time....
(I’m also reminded that
hotels get it wrong so
often… even when they
aren’t trying to extract
and want to be seen
as offering valuable
Like the ‘time-distracting’ free shoe-shine
machine you often see
parked next to the hotel elevators. You know
the ones; you’ve even
stood there and used
them whilst you’ve
waited for an elevator
to descend from the
15th floor. They just don’t work well; and
you know it. Reminding yourself, as you did
whilst last using one for the umpteenth time,
that you even knew this from the previous
time you’d stood and waited for the damned
There’s even a new price gouging scam in
hotels that relates to the provision of Wi-Fi
services for both guests and conferencing
delegates alike, which is currently causing
as much anguish, if not more, than the great
bedside phone rip-off ever did – but that’s
the subject of another article on another day!
Let’s get back to the in-house audio-video
I find, on average, that hoteliers install woefully inadequate technology levels by purchasing low cost projectors with insufficient
lumens for large group projection as well
as the cheapest forms of microphones that
they can find. Invariably all this equipment
tends to be outdated and has been constantly abused by people who have had no idea
how to use it, store it or protect it for years
on end.
As to having someone dedicated on-hand who
is meant to assist and help set-up the in-house
technology for your conference or meeting; it’s
invariably going to be a lower level employee
who is actually on the pay-roll under a totally
different job description and generally wouldn’t
know a lumen from a lamp post.
The real meat of any conference or meeting
day is in the audience enjoying the (hopefully) professional polished delivery of the presenters’ content. The message really needs
to be seen; and heard. Professional speakers, like myself, come to learn very quickly
that the presence of a (usually) black T-shirted AV technician in the back corner of the
room responsible for installing, driving and
supervising the sound and lighting for the
day is absolutely essential in terms of supporting their own performance. If we rate
them so highly, it’s a good reason to remember that for any presenters you might have
who perhaps aren’t so competent, they are
even more necessary.
Professional AV suppliers who specialise in
providing high quality modern, up to date
and relevant audio and visual equipment
are there to deliver you the peace of mind
that comes from knowing your event can run
without any glitches. Never ever cut them
out of your budget.
Michael Jackson
Email: michael@theotermichaeljackson.com
Website: www.theothermichaeljackson.com
The log book of a « typical » businessman?
The following is a testimony that we are publishing, that of Thomas Gregg, vice president of Partner
& Solution Enablement. It is interesting in more than one respect… Let’s listen to him.
really enjoy traveling on business and I
can say with some pride that in recent
years I’ve improved the way I work remotely,
with regard to the managing of a team scattered throughout the world. In fact, for me there
is little difference between working in an office, in a café in Berlin or in a good pub in London. All I need is my MacBook and a good Internet connection ».
Changing priorities
« Over the past ten years I’ve taken a plane
at least once a week and spent three to four
days in a hotel in the same time. Although I
love traveling and working with people from
different cultures, I recognize that traveling
can be difficult and exhausting. Waking up
at 4 am in London in order to catch a flight
and flying to Berlin with the last plane in the
evening before having to take another one
again the next morning… is pretty tiring. Over
the years I’ve noticed that my personal priorities have changed and during my business
trips I now prefer high-speed Wi-Fi and a seat
in the first row, which enables me to get off the
plane more quickly, to receiving a lukewarm
meal on board ».
Benefiting from a good night’s sleep
« I’ve always been quite choosy when it comes
to hotels. Certain criteria seem to me to be
very important, such as cleanliness, good
beds, quiet surroundings and a central location. But having concluded that every good
4 or 5-star hotel meets these demands, I’ve
some extra ones: I need a high-speed Internet
Thomas Gregg
distinguishing characteristics between hotels
in the past and that made them more expensive, such as a swimming pool, a fitness room,
a minibar or a huge breakfast buffet, have become less important to me. Moreover, companies are less and less inclined to pay for these
amenities. That is the reason why I’m happy to see that more and more establishments
are embracing modern concepts devoid of all
these cumbersome services. These establishments concentrate on cleanliness, on the
modern and practical side of rooms, and on
the « friendly » side of the environment, with
all this being offered at fair prices ».
Collecting loyalty points
« I’m not a tightwad, but being forced to pay 6
euros for a soda at the airport seems ridiculous
to me and neatly sums up what you’re like-
an upgrade for the rental car or other advantages that make the trip more enjoyable. It’s
becoming harder than in the past to achieve
these statuses and there’re a few tricks that
you can use to increase your chances of being
awarded them, in particular with airlines that
share their frequent-flyer programs with others
». «Make sure you collect miles with a specific airline, not with numerous airlines that share
the same program. Subscribe to airline newsletters and take part in promotions that regularly offer double or triple miles for a specific
route within a given time frame. Compare the
requirements for the awarding of statuses by
airlines. For example, both Lufthansa and Aegean are part of Star Alliance and the number
of miles required to achieve the gold status –
which grants access to lounges worldwide – is
fewer with Aegean than with Lufthansa. Also
remember to always collect miles or points
when renting cars or staying in hotels, so as to
obtain upgrades ».
Travel light!
« Taking only light luggage, traveling with only
carry-on baggage - it isn’t always convenient
but it enables you to move about quickly and
save a lot of time if you have to attend a meeting or want to get home earlier so you can say
goodnight to your son before he goes to sleep.
I travel a lot to foreign places and I’m dependent on my technology items. I must take an
international power adapter, laptop and phone
charger cables, and various video adapters
for the MacBook etc. All this becomes heavy
quickly and I try to eliminate any extra weight
such as a newspaper or magazine. I’ve also
learnt to always pack a change of clothes in
case the time planned for my trip is unexpectedly extended by a day due to an additional
meeting or a canceled or missed flight ».
Look for alternatives
« Consider alternatives (Uber instead of a
taxi, for instance). If you are traveling in a city
where you have an old friend, why not spend
the night at his place instead of at a hotel?
You should also inform yourself about the local options. For example, in Istanbul it is a
better idea to take a ferry rather than a taxi
to cross from the European side to the Asian
side of the city. Having your meals in the hotel
restaurant is convenient, but it is interesting
to venture out and discover the culture. I’ve
spent some time in the Middle East and it was
very enriching to see how local people eat and
celebrate lunch and dinner as social events
rather than treating them as occasions for the
mere consumption of food ».
connection and a quick check-in/check-out ».
« After a 14-hour work day, I don’t have the
patience to hang around for 10 minutes just to
receive my room key. A conversation with the
receptionist is certainly pleasant, but not really
necessary ». « Quite a few services that were
ly to encounter if you travel a lot. This means
that advantages like free entry to lounges can
make a difference. Even if you travel a lot, that
does not guarantee you one of the « special»
statuses (« elite », « senator », « gold » or others) necessary to obtain access to lounges,
« In conclusion, I’m happy to see that the
transportation industry and the hotel world are
responding and adapting their concepts to the
modern lifestyle of today’s businessman. In
fact, those who understand what is really important are already experiencing success. The
others, those who do not want to change…
will they be in business much longer? »
For Those who Value Calmness and Privacy
Open-plan offices are very effective; they provide all the space necessary for good team work, group
projects and brainstorming sessions, among other things.
owever, they are not meant for
everyone. Indeed, many employees can be distracted by
the bustle, noise and constant activity.
Hectic Meeting vs Deep Thinking?
Needless to discuss in detail the
harmful effects of noise when you are
working. The brain is engaged in a
constant battle against these sound intrusions, resulting in additional fatigue
which quickly leads to headaches. At
the same time, productivity diminishes
and the number of errors, incidents,
and even accidents, increases.
In recent years, the furniture industry has examined the needs of these
people who look for privacy and calmness to do the best job they can. One
man’s joy must not become the other
man’s misery!
Today, fortunately, there is furniture
that allows you to create these tranquil spaces that guarantee confidentiality. Fitted with sound-absorbing materials, this furniture can be arranged
according to the needs.
There are also acoustic panels. Easy
to install, they are elegant solutions
that keep you from having to carry out
a complete overhaul of the space to
guarantee soundproofing and privacy.
This way, one could imagine a lively
meeting in one part of the room, with
“insulated” cubicles in another, the
whole working in harmony.
Personal Cocoons
There are also personal soundproof cocoons.
They are the easiest way
to create spaces of tranquillity and allow people
to make phone calls, take
a short break and keep
out all unwanted sounds.
All of these components
are modular, so you can
arrange them according
to the current needs. You
can create, in the blink of
an eye, a resting space
or mini-office, even a
small reception area away from the
noise. These « instant creations »
(easy to set up) are thus meant for a
single person or for very small work-
ing groups that value privacy. We
must never forget that, ultimately, privacy constitutes the « great distance
between what employees have and
what they want »…
Another advantage is that these furniture components look fantastic! Obviously, you can choose from a very
wide range of colours and shapes.
Sonic Chair By
Designatics Production GmbH
E-mail: info@sonic-chair.com
Website: sonic-chair.com
Of course, you can go one step further and insulate an entire floor, thus
creating a level specifically designated as a « tranquillity zone ».
Expensive Wi-Fi at Exorbitant Prices!
‘That is downright scandalous’, a reader of The Telegraph recounts, in the British newspaper
of the same name, his “Wi-Fi experience” at the Majestic Barrière hotel in Cannes.
t’s probably an all-time record: He received a bill of… 300 euro (three hundred!) for a Wi-Fi connection for one
Three Options, but Little Explanation
According to Oliver Smith, the author of
the article, the hotel has indeed confirmed
that it charges considerable sums for the
use of its Wi-Fi at 50
Mb/s. An « average
speed » (10 Mb/s)
option is available
for 110 euro per day.
There is also a basic service (2 Mb/s)
which is free during
the first two hours,
and then costs 9
euro for 24h.
The latter rate is
much more reasonable. However, and
therein lies the problem, it would appear
that, according to the
customer, no information was provided
about the cost. So it
came as a big sur-
prise when he noticed 300 euro had been
added to the bill! Fortunately, all is well that
ends well as the hotel management backed
down and ultimately charged only 9 euro.
Diane Pagnard, responsible for PR at the
hotel, explained that the three options concerned had only existed for two months and
that previously there was a daily charge of
15 euro. The « high-speed » option was
introduced to allow business customers
(mainly during the Film Festival) to quickly
download movies and photos in HD.
The Usual Debate
This event rekindles the big debate about
internet connectivity in hotels. A recent
study suggests that most European hotels offer the possibility to connect via WiFi and that 90% of them do not charge
for this access. In this respect, it
would appear that British hotels
are the worst.
Let’s not forget, and this has been
confirmed by a survey conducted
by AMBA Hotels, that Wi-Fi access is a more important criterion
than location when searching for
We have written it often in these
columns: the solution is, indeed,
to offer totally free standard (lowand average-speed) connections
that allow « normal » use of the
internet (sending and receiving
e-mail, using websites, making
phone calls). It is conceivable to
allow the option of a faster connection, at a cost, to enable users
to download large files (e.g. VOD
or transmission of large files).
Meetings and conferences WANT change
Are we changing quickly enough? The question seems absurd in today’s world where one has the impression of
being permanently on the alert, but it is appropriate in the world of meetings and conferences.
oo often, these latter begin « losing their
shine », taking place exactly as in the
past, while things are evolving by leaps
and bounds.
time slots for « networking », that very useful
activity that is increasingly talked about and
that constitutes the salt of physical presence.
Preference for an « all in one » venue
Technology in the service of
An event of this sort is an occasion for a group
of persons to come together for the purpose of
learning and networking. Whether the event
is held by an association or a company, these
are privileged moments that should be accorded the highest value. Increasingly, these
large gatherings take place without the pomp
that surrounded them in the past. Gone are
the lavish receptions, the gourmet food and
the pantagruelian meals. Today we are living
in the age of content – this is what must guide
all actions. In choosing a venue for the event,
the economic reality faced by everybody is taken into account. Destinations are less distant
and more pragmatic, and the focus is on the
ease of operations. The choice often falls on
an « all in one » venue, where accommodation,
meals and meetings can all take place under
the same roof.
Change therefore involves providing for content
that is both dynamic and tailored to the expectations of the participants, making the best use
of communication technologies, AND reserving
But change also involves thinking of all those
who are interested in the event but, for some
reason or other, are unable to attend it physically.
Here again, technology can be a great
help. The audience of an event can
be significantly enlarged by creating
a « hybrid meeting ». On this topic
the Americans do not beat about the
bush. For them, « Hybrid meetings
will just become normal meetings ».
A hybrid meeting is an event transmitted live via the Internet and open to all
who wish to take part. Virtual participants must have a code to be admitted. They can be allowed (or not) to
join the discussion (either via a written
message, verbally or by video), and
it may even be decided that remote
groups, located in hotel rooms equipped with
the necessary technology, will be able to appear on screens during the event.
In the same way, change involves daring to
invite specialist speakers who will make succinct contributions to the discussion in a virtual manner, from wherever they may be in
the world. This will save time and it will be
a gain in terms of content, for not everybody
can afford to attend the event physically.
In addition, change requires that the event
be recorded, so that it can be viewed nonlive and according to the video-on-demand
principle at a later date.
But, in fact, change….. is nothing more than
putting the existing technology in the service
of communication, content and effectiveness!
TV is in the pixel race
Televisions have long been used in the business world to disseminate information. Moreover, they
experienced a « golden age » in the times when audiovisual solutions for business were popular.
e have progressed from large television sets (with greater depth than
width) to « slim line » models, and
high definition has enabled us to get to a situation where excellence is usually expected.
What should one think about the advent of the
4K televisions that have recently appeared?
In the following lines, we do not adopt a « consumer » viewpoint but one that is well suited
for enterprises.
currently available to companies are not implemented in 4K. This latter is therefore only interesting for future productions, which require
the use of suitable filming equipment. The
quality of the source is decisive and re-sampling pixels to replace those that are absent is
A giant TV set? A profitable investment,
These new TVs swept through the exhibit
space of the recent CES. Every manufacturer
presented, more or less, his 4 K model.
The response seems to be simple at first sight:
if the company disseminates its own productions, filmed in 4K, and if it wants to use giant
screens (for example, at least 84 inches, or
+/- 2.15m in size), the investment will be profitable in that the impact of projection will actually be greater with a 4K than with a simple
HD television. However, the size of the screen
involves the use of a surface as extensive as a
real « wall ». This must be taken into account.
In all other cases, an HD television will do the
job just as well.
It is important to note that, obviously, the content must measure up, and the productions
Microsoft reveals the “Surface Hub”
an 84 -Inch 4K all in one
only an artifice. Nevertheless, these 4K televisions will offer exceptional photographic renderings and enable superb visualization of the
photos produced by high-end reflex cameras.
A thumbing of the nose at history: we could
then return, paradoxically, to the AV « slides »
of yesteryear.
Soon…..no more choice!
In any case, the technology is like a mad
horse and it forges ahead inexorably. It is
highly probable that all televisions will migrate
to 4K technology and that, in the not-too-distant future, it will be impossible to obtain anything else, a situation we have already experienced with 3D televisions, which, however,
interested only a very small number of people, contrary to the wishes of the manufacturers. We will then find ourselves in a situation
where HD will be projected regularly on 4K
TVs without there being any visual advantage. The film production lines will adapt to
the new technology - but little by little, due to
the extent of the necessary investments.
One could imagine that the 4K TV has a
bright future in telepresence (upscale videoconferencing that literally creates the illusion
that distant discussion partners are really
present) rooms. The technical constraints relating to data transmission dampen this nascent enthusiasm, in addition to the fact that
the current solutions (HD) are largely sufficient.
As for displaying 4K on « small » TVs, this is
to count on marketing techniques and borders on deception: the eye will not be able
to tell the difference, quite simply. In fact,
several years after the camera world, the television has simply entered the pixel race…
However, we know this race is futile and that
a good image depends on many other criteria.
The risky leap from 8 to 10!
The folks in Redmond are promising us not Windows 9 but Windows 10. Microsoft
needs to be careful…..
indows 8, therefore, is going to retire…..on tiptoe, as the OS did not
really have the success hoped for.
It takes more than just good looks!
In fact, for private individuals and above all for
companies, there has to be a compelling reason to upgrade their operating system. And the
initial reactions of US companies to the first
drafts of Windows 10 can be summarized as
follows: « Yes, Windows 10 looks great, but it
takes more than just good looks to embark on
the adventure of migration! ».
Currently, if one is to believe the NetMarketShare figures, approximately one out of two
PCs running Windows 7 accesses the Internet.
In these circumstances, it’s a good bet that
Windows 7 will go the same way as Windows
XP: stable, popular, not requiring any training
due to its long-established presence, this exceptional OS will be by no means easy to dislodge. One can fully understand that users will
find it difficult to rid themselves of their favorite
tool and go adventuring.
Nor does Microsoft’s current strategy (Mobile
First, Cloud First) provide much of an incentive to make the switch for, like certain American trade journalists, one could ask an almost
existential question concerning Windows: since
the services and applications (such as Office)
are becoming increasingly independent of
the operating system,
why should one move
The user must
recognize «his »
The main difficulty for
Microsoft is that it must
find the right balance
and continuity. Innovation is the very reason for the update, but continuity means maintaining habits with which one
is satisfied. Let’s take Windows 8 as an example of changes too advanced and too rapid for users to follow: the technology had plenty of power under the hood but the look and
feel modifications were too extensive. The user
must be able to recognize Windows, « his Windows »!
Finally, in these times when mobile phones and
tablets are flourishing everywhere, Windows 10
must also demonstrate that it can live happily
and in harmony with them. Windows 8 had already promised it, but except for Surface tablets and the Yoga devices from Lenovo, the tablet world is still dominated by iOS and Android.
Windows 10 must prove that it is cross-platform
and can offer its users some real advantages
(which will improve Microsoft’s chances of selling its Surface and Lumia tablets).
A major challenge…..response in a few
Do You Speak Business?
Of course, SMEs rarely have the same concerns as big international companies. However, they must
remain ready to deal with any eventuality.
ne sticky issue that big companies
are faced with is that of simultaneous
translation when holding meetings
with their counterparts from foreign countries.
Creating Additional Opportunities to
Boost Sales
It’s surprising to see this type of issue come up
at the level of the SMEs,
especially if the latter
never work with suppliers or customers outside
their own countries. In
fact, if a small company
suddenly makes a name
for itself abroad and
finds itself being contacted by customers speaking a different language,
it constitutes a real opportunity to substantially
increase its sales. But at
the same time, the problem of communication
will arise.
For it has been clearly
shown that you have to
be able to talk to people
in their own language.
Obviously, you can have
bilingual staff in a company, but it is not likely that they will be able to speak all languages. To talk to an interlocutor in their mother
tongue creates additional opportunities to
boost sales.
In addition, competition is rife, and other companies in the running may be able to speak
the language of these customers.
This means that a SME should also have si-
multaneous translation equipment at its disposal WHENEVER THERE IS A NEED FOR
Keeping Contact Details Handy
Imagine lawyers negotiating an international
contract… they must be able to understand exactly what is being said by the other legal team!
Otherwise, it can be a disaster.
This rental service exists, so the
equipment and interpreters are
available when you need them.
Most of the companies offering
this service cover all languages.
Since there can always be a
need for this type of translation
service at some point, keeping
the contact details of a company that is an expert in the field
handy is an excellent preventive
For, even though not all SMEs
are fortunate enough to do business in international markets,
there is always a chance that this
will happen to your company. If
you want to be competitive, you
have to be able to communicate
with international companies in
their mother tongue.
What Are the Future Trends for Digital Signage?
« You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around ».
echnology is a « Connective Tissue » - Not
Much More
These words – full of (common) sense – were
spoken 25 years ago by someone who would become famous: Steve Jobs. At the time, no one
knew that one day there would be digital signage…
It is, indeed, the recipient of the messages we disseminate who deserves all our attention and who
leads us to continuously innovate. He shows us
where he wants to go and what he expects of digital signage in order to make his life more exciting.
And it is clear that we must never forget that technology, however sophisticated and powerful it
may be, is only a tool, a « connective tissue » of
Consumers want more information about the
products and the services that interest them, and
digital signage must address that.
We have to learn more about the people who look at
the messages we disseminate to allow us to develop deeper and more individual relations with them.
« Understanding the audience » will become
more important than ever before to create better
tools for collecting and interpreting the data about
this audience.
tential. The interaction between digital signage
and mobile phones (including tablets) will be possible via the internet, via Wi-Fi connection, by text
message or e-mail as well as by NFC or iBeacons.
Interacting Directly with Digital Signage
We will speak less of « screens » and more of
« connectivity ». Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are the players in this business. The rest, the
equipment, such as screens, fixtures, e-readers,
computers… only have meaning depending on
what they are given to disseminate. Again, it is the
content that matters.
Consumers have long stopped buying products.
Instead, they are seeking solutions.
Moreover, we no longer speak of software but
of apps, applications. Now, by force of habit, resellers continue to think they have to sell products. That is why there is often no common language between the two.
In order to get more and more users involved
in digital signage by turning control over to them
and by directly engaging them, there is a strong
trend towards interactivity and the fashionable
BYOD (bring your own device). Another benchmark: An American household has an average of
4 mobile devices, which shows the available po-
Digital signage for boosting employee engagement
Many companies make use of digital signage for their communication and have thus replaced their billboards and paper
posters by screens in entrance halls and common areas.
hey take advantage of this to use the
screens for the purpose of providing relevant information. As a result, we are
seeing the creation of messages that are personalized in line with the time of day and the
They also produce videos to improve customer service by training their
personnel, they increase the
motivation of the personnel,
and they increase work safety by disseminating prevention messages.
We are living in an era of
globalization, with companies aiming to extend their
activities in different countries, and therefore digital
signage is becoming even
more relevant. This is evident at the internal communications level, where digital
signs enable information to
be provided to a workforce
spread over several sites.
Whatever the size of the enterprise, three ways of using
digital signage to improve
the effectiveness of enterprise communications in a working environment can be highlighted.
The management of employee training is part
of this. There is nothing better for teaching
new procedures and making employees autonomous. The training courses are disseminated by video technology as near as possible to the workplaces. Training courses on
request are covered in the same way, without
the need for training materials or printed presentations.
Corporate culture and motivation
Corporate culture is directly impacted by digital signage. More and more companies use
it to disseminate messages and communicate
objectives to be achieved. Using digital signage to congratulate employees within a particular category for having accomplished
Peerless-AV Europe some desired goal is also an excellent
E-mail: mrondberg@peerless-av.eu.com way to boost employee engagement.
Website: www.peerless-av.com Finally, employees can follow the company’s results in almost real time. They note
their performances and see how close
they have come to achieving the desired
These are a few examples that explain
why digital signage is becoming a real necessity for both small and large enterprises. It attracts the attention of the personnel via dynamic messages in real time and
helps the company develop effective internal communications.
To achieve this, companies must, of
course, have a complete digital signage
solution, including user-friendly software
that enables messages to be easily created and modified at the different places
where the screens are located.
Finding one’s way …. Three reliable methods!
What is requested the most, in the field of interactive systems, is a « wayfinder » kiosk, sometimes known as a
« Directory Information Kiosk ».
t’s an ideal way of supplying visitors or customers
with a very simple method of finding their way to
the destination they wish to reach, the task being
achieved as quickly as possible and with a minimum of interaction with members of your staff.
The kiosks are often provided with access capabil-
sistant to new technologies), but, when the interface is decidedly intuitive, it is noticeable that
people use them successfully and without the
slightest worry.
These wayfinders or signposts have an intuitive
touch interface. The visitor only has to enter or point
to a destination and a graphical itinerary directs him
visually, stage by stage, to the desired destination.
Key words can also be typed in. Finally, the itinerary
can be printed by the kiosk, which enables the visitor to follow « his personalized plan ».
Using one’s smartphone
or the Internet
ities for the disabled and they work in several languages, therefore making life easier.
A personalized plan
They are generally used in shopping malls, hospitals, city centers, airports, large car parks and,
of course, in large enterprises. In some cases, a
member of the staff will still be necessary to provide assistance (to disabled persons or those re-
ing » and, obviously, they use WiFi, Bluetooth and
GPS to supply information on their position and enable precise guidance.
In addition, the enterprise can also offer, on its website this time, a true interactive map that enables
visitors to program their visit before arriving at the
These maps, available in kiosks, in smartphones
or on websites, can also incorporate supplementary information relating to any events taking place at
the time. They therefore keep up-to-date with developments and provide information in real time.
And these interactive capabilities are not limited to
kiosks. « Apps » can be
designed and distributed
that enable practically the
same information to be obtained on the screens of
smartphones. The idea
here is to offer truly « mobile » utilization in the full
sense of the word, since
pedestrians then use the
system even when they
are on the move. This is
called « mobile wayfind-
The Kiosk – The Assistant to the Sales Force
A little detour through the large retailers suffices to prove it: Interactive kiosks are a huge success.
hese digital interactive kiosks offer innovate ways of interacting with customers. They reach their target public in
an effective way and enable retailers to differentiate themselves in today’s increasingly
competitive market.
The « Internet Language »
The « innate » advantage of an interactive kiosk is that it works similarly to the internet.
Now, most people already have internet ex-
perience and, therefore, they will feel like a
fish in the water when facing an interactive
An interactive kiosk can take someone by the
hand « from a to z », starting from scratch.
Whether a customer is looking for a good
GPS, a child car seat or a television display,
kiosks help them educate themselves and
choose the right product for their needs, without any human assistance in the sale.
It is also a facilitator. Here’s an example… A
customer is interested in a particular smartphone. The reseller
can show them to
an interactive kiosk specifically devoted to this kind
of product. This
kiosk will provide
information about
the prices, the colour options, the
available shopping
guides, as well as
allowing the customer to compare
Interactive kiosks
allow for a reduction in ‘walk-outs’
by engaging the
customers. As a
result, they are
less likely to leave the shop when they have
to wait for a salesperson who is busy. Indeed,
a kiosk enables the customer to already start
the process of satisfying their needs whilst
waiting for a salesperson to become available.
Kiosks Help Retailers Improve
In addition, it all depends on the kiosk’s programming. It can be designed in a fun way
and offer amusing « quizzes » that will allow
for a search to be refined, as well as yielding
the best choice. Touch screens and simple
questionnaires (but with subdivisions) facilitate their set-up.
Moreover, let’s not forget that certain customers may prefer the anonymity of an interactive
kiosk to human interaction as there are personal questions to be answered.
An interactive kiosk also helps retailers improve themselves! The data collected reveals a lot about the market and the success
of current promotions. You can easily see
the favourite pages of the customers and reconstruct their movements, as well as glean
information about the amount of time spent
on each screen. As soon as there has been
a change in the kiosk’s content (update or
structural change), you can track its impact in
real time: You might be surprised at how great
the effects of a small change can be!
Measuring one’s feet to save oneself a lot of trouble!
Mifitto is a young German company that wants to ensure that consumers are better shod! The solution? It has
created a particularly innovative 3D foot scanner.
he basic idea is crystal clear: it will be
easier to find perfectly fitting shoes if
your feet are measured very preci-
Footballers wear « tight » or « loose »
shoes With the 3D foot scanner, the benefits for
customers are obvious: the system measures one’s feet and then searches for shoes
that best fit them, and it is not the feet that
have to fit the shoes!
The Mifitto system comes with touch screen
- a 32-inch model - from Elo Touch Solutions. « We opted for reliable and high-quality touch screens » says Thomas Harmes,
CEO of Mifitto.
After 18 months of development of the
shoe and foot scanner, with support from
the renowned Fraunhofer Society (known
for inventing the MP3 format), the system
was installed in several facilities in Germany in 2014. One example is the JosephsR
sales laboratory in Nuremberg, where retailers and customers can test new product and service concepts under laboratory
conditions. The system is also installed in
Teamsport Philipp, one of the largest sport
dealers for football shoes and equipment in
Germany. Let’s listen to Christian Lenz from
Teamsport Philipp: « Footballers have special habits when it comes to buying shoes.
Some wear « very tight » shoes while others play better with « loose» shoes. This,
added to differences between brands for
the same size, was an excellent reason to
use the system at the point of sale ». shoes. «Everything is very easy to handle - it’s an integrated system without any
flaws », adds Lenz.
The Mifitto scanner has been welcomed
with much interest in the shoe and sporting
worlds, and an increasing number of shops
intend to adopt the system in the near future.
At Mifitto in Duisburg, 10,000 shoes are
scanned and photographed per day, which
enables the creation of an enormous database containing data on all sorts of shoes.
This database can help to reduce the return
rate in e-commerce and also help consumers in brick and mortar stores, either individually or in collaboration with a salesperson on the premises, to find « the perfect
shoe » quickly and a lot more easily. Visualization and the interactivity of the interactive screen play a decisive role in this excellent solution.
A large database
After having measured the customer’s
feet, the system displays the recommended products on the touch screen. In the
future, the Mifitto system will be used for
other product categories, such as running
Elo Touch Solutions
Kolonel Begaultlaan 1C11
3012 Leuven, Belgium
+32 16 704 500
E-mail: elosales@elotouch.com
Website: www.elotouch.com
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These videos are also available on our website:
The customer service offered by companies is often disastrous!
Every company is convinced that it offers good customer service. However, it seems that in many
cases the customer service is a complete disaster.
his has various causes. The reality is that,
rather than questioning the quality of their
customer service, companies should ask
their customers the following question: « Have
you already been a victim of bad customer service? ». That would already shift the perspective.
Your best salespersons…..are your current
It is all the more incredible as it costs ten times
less to sell something to an existing customer
than to a new customer! And astronomical sums
are still being invested in advertising for the purpose of attracting new customers…. Here are a
few pointers…..
Customer service is an attitude. It does not fall
under the responsibility of a single person or a
service/department but is the business of all employees. Too much money is spent on product
training and not enough on interpersonal skills. In
fact, ALL the employees of a company should be
trained in « customer service ».
A good customer service knows its strong points
and weaknesses. One needs to listen to one’s
customers, conduct a survey among them and
note their needs, desires, fears and frustrations.
In fact, one must find out what good customer
service means for them.
You never get a second chance to make a good
impression. Consumers form an opinion of your
company in a few seconds. ALL details count,
from the telephone queue, reception (voice
mailbox robot with multitude of options) and the
waiting time through to the state of the premises (burned-out light bulbs, for example) and the
greeting of the customer on his or her arrival.
The best salespersons must be cared for…. And
these are your current customers! Every satisfied
customer relates his story to three other persons
on average. And you should also be aware that
an unhappy customer relates his story…..to eleven people on average! Keep offering a quality of
service to existing customers that is the same as
at the beginning of the relationship.
Rejoicing at a customer’s complaint?
The value of a company is no greater than that of
its worst employee…… Difficult to stomach, but
a reputation takes years to build up and can be
lost in a second. You must hire good people and
give them suitable training before they come into
contact with the customers. What counts is the
attitude and not the experience. The customer
is always right, since he talks with his wallet. It
is he who is the real boss at your company, for
he is the one who pays your salary. If you fail to
look after your customers…….your competitors
will do it for you!
This reality is that you should rejoice when a customer makes a complaint. For each customer
who complains there are 28 others who have
thought the same thing but said nothing (only 4%
of dissatisfied customers complain while the others simply take their custom elsewhere while tarnishing your reputation on the way). You should
be aware that an error corrected to the satisfaction of the customer wins his loyalty in 84% of
Ponder the following proverb: « promises are
written in marble for those who hear them and
in the sand for those who make them ». In other words, service does not sell, it resells, in that
customers will return to you and buy again. In
short, never take your customers for granted, say
“thanks” to them and think of giving them, here
and there, a sign of appreciation, even if symbolic.
From « one-to-many » to the « one-to-one » strategy
Digital communication is shifting up a gear. The symposium of the « Digital Screenmedia Association »
that was recently held in Dallas sketched out the broad outlines of its future.
here are prospects for a change of
method. There will be a move away from
the « one-to-many » approach to the
« one-to-one » strategy.
From « Mad Men » to « Math Men »
The goal is to create relationships, and marketing guided by data analysis is radically changing the market approach of brands. Establishing a relationship involves moving on from the
message and information dissemination stage
and entering the world of consumer engagement. Communications must be
targeted and no longer disseminated in every direction. A prime example: sending discount coupons
to a person who never uses them
is a waste of time. The aim must
be to engage people in matters that
interest them. Christina Moore,
senior manager at Frito-Lay (North
America) puts it in a nutshell:
« Communicating is easy… connecting is hard ».
The collection of consumer-based
data is paramount, but there remains, Moore points out, the problem of its processing and also the
mathematical models enabling it
to be understood: « We’ve gone
from « Mad Men » to « Math Men, we count
everything ». Looking at the future of physical
shops, she sees them offering less space for
the storage of products and a lot more for areas where consumers are able to learn about,
use and experience products, with the prospect
of their orders subsequently being delivered to
their homes.
The search for « smart people »
As for digital signage per se, it is increasingly
regarded as the tool in the kit that enables the
creation of brand experiences, and has therefore moved beyond the stage where it was
used solely to disseminate messages in isolation. Today it is an integral part of the retail
space, in the same way as bricks and mortar.
Designers work to create an overall impression
where each part will contribute to generating
consumer involvement.
This is what the symposium called « consumer engagement technology »: multi-channel
screens working in concert with the environment. With this new philosophy based on high
technology and engagement (learning, using,
online ordering and home delivery), a situation
is to be created where customers never have to
queue up to pay.
As for the data and its analysis….The specific
discussion panel dedicated to this topic insisted first of all on the need for brands to know
THEIR history before taking an interest in that
of the consumer. « It’s easier to disseminate
the history of your brand if you know it well,
whatever the channel chosen to communicate
it. ». « We are paralyzed by the data, since we
never received such high quantities in the past
». « We must find smart people who can enable a meaning to be extracted from this data,
which seems disparate at first sight ». Therein
lies the challenge: being able to generate hypotheses and also to create a « music » from
this « noise ».