Last week, along with our stellar BlueJeans UK team, I attended the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit held in London. It was a great event, and with over 800 professionals and leaders in attendance and many insightful presentations by industry executives and Gartner analysts, it’s certainly one that has me reflecting.
To start, the BlueJeans booth was abuzz with attendees interested in learning more about how we enable customers to ‘meet people where they are’ by providing tools for interoperability like BlueJeans Gateway for Microsoft Teams as well as the ability to connect to different videoconferencing services with BlueJean’s premier Rooms-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering. We get it. You’re using many different collaboration tools and are looking for partners that can easily fit into your broader communications ecosystem—and we want to be that best-of-breed partner that fits your current and future needs.
Beyond the products and services showcased on the expo hall floor, there was a lot of energy and chatter around #AI, the interrelatonships between collaboration, workplace productivity and content creation, and—most interestingly to me—the potential clash between the perceived usefulness of machine learning/AI/digital workplaces versus the importance of effective human interactions at work.
Although variations on this subject have been an industry hot button over the last few years, many speakers were able to bring the topic to life with a very humanistic, personal spin.
He was thought-provoking in emphasizing the needs of employees as people when designing digital workplaces—saying things like “Digital means workers can be anywhere. Workplace, therefore, is not a place but a mindset.” The implication? Organizations need to engage workers beyond the physical and ensure the tools they use are built for how humans work and engage together, rather than how machines work.
He also highlighted that collaboration is about thinking together, not about sharing documents. And that, in contrast to many technologist assertions out there in the marketplace, in reality machines/AI are actually less flexible than humans are. “We need to build for people,” he said. And I couldn’t agree more.
This theme was consistent with the session led by Adam Preset and Chris Trueman, entitled “Make Your Meetings Matter.” They used information gathered from a recent Gartner survey of over 7,000 respondents to inform their session, where they argued that the biggest hurdles in meetings have more to do with human factors than technology—such as the participation and engagement of meeting attendees, clarity of decisions, owners and action items, and the difficulties of including the relevant decision makers in meetings (who are often double or triple booked).
Meeting overload is a key pain point, but combine that with low engagement and vague outcomes, and you get unproductive meetings. Overall, people don’t hate meetings though—they hate BAD meetings. Good meetings should be energizing and empowering for people.
No matter what your point of view, meetings are crucial to “the new work nucleus” as Gartner puts it. As such, Gartner’s recommendation is to eliminate unnecessary meetings and optimize the necessary ones.
These two sessions were energizing and relevant for me, in particular, because they directly relate to the innovations that BlueJeans is driving with our focus on creating smart meetings. It isn’t just about technology or transcription services, but about innovating on the actual meetings experience to drive more engagement, as well as crowd-sourcing the relevant action items and content to provide a meeting highlight summary that will help people keep track of relevant ideas, action items, deliverables and timelines.
We are balancing the capabilities of great AI/machine learning tools with the need humans have to engage and collaborate together in the moment of a meeting to create and drive their businesses. It’s all about finding the right blend that will allow people to get the information they need in order to be productive.
At BlueJeans we are on a journey to transform the way people engage and get value from their meetings. I was heartened by the discussions at the conference that point to the evolution of our market beyond connecting into meetings, and toward transforming the effectiveness and productivity of meetings themselves. I look forward to sharing more with you soon about venture into the smart world of meetings.
Be sure to stay tuned for more this fall! #getsmart