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The Digital Whiteboard: Innovative Tech, or a Waste of Cash?

How valuable is the digital whiteboard trend?

There’s something in me that likes the idea of a digital whiteboard. Maybe it’s the ability to annotate notes at the same time as my coworkers or improve collaboration with a bit of visual technology. Perhaps it’s my appreciation of all-things new and novel. Either way, I’m not the only person who’s feeling the love for digital whiteboards. It appears that countless companies have introduced their own version of this device into the market over the last year or so, with offerings from Google, to Microsoft.

The Growth of the Digital Whiteboard

Google Jamboard
Google Jamboard

Digital whiteboards are such a popular new product, that they’ve got their own “segments” to fit into. For instance, you’ve got the group collaboration systems that are designed to provide more immersive UC&C experiences by projecting content across multiple screens, like Bluescape and Nureva Span.

On the other hand, you’ve got basic touch-screen systems that help to connect remote workers for instant collaboration, like Cisco Spark, Microsoft Surface Hub, and Google Jamboard. Then, you’ve got the screen-sharing device, that helps to make web conferencing a little simpler, without the need for meeting rooms or cable switching, like Polycom Pano, and DisplayNote Montage.

The possibilities are endless, and yet despite all this potential, companies still aren’t sure if digital whiteboards are right for them. In fact, according to one study from Nemertes Research, only 23.5% of people said they were going to deploy a whiteboard, while 47% said that they were going to think about using them in the future.

Problems with Adoption

MS Surface Hub
Microsoft Surface Hub

The unfortunate truth is that while digital whiteboards might seem like a great idea on the surface, there are many problems that they’ll need to deal with before they’ll earn the respect and attention of their target market. Most businesses today are really only using these systems in unique spaces, such as R&D, or marketing teams. Part of the reason for that has to be the significant dent that such a device would put in your technology budget.

Sure, they’re impressive, but most organisations would rather not shell out for a device that costs thousands of pounds before they know whether it’s going to deliver any real ROI in terms of efficiency and productivity. On top of the whole “cost” issue, many IT developers still don’t know as much about digital whiteboards as they should – making it hard to justify such a huge investment.

Most companies are still just dipping their toes into the waters of digital whiteboards, trying to figure out whether they’re right for them, or not. At the same time, large UC&C companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Google and continuing to focus on devices that integrate tightly with their existing collaboration services, while other vendors like Polycom are looking for more interoperable opportunities. That means that IT experts are also weighing up the benefits of multi-vendor, or single-solution collaboration suites.

The Future for Digital Whiteboards

In my opinion, there is potential in the future of digital whiteboards. They could be a powerful way for companies to bring dispersed communities of workers together through engaging, real-time solutions for collaboration. They also give a sense of involvement to meeting room spaces and UC&C that’s hard to achieve with a video conferencing device and a sheet of paper.

Still, before we can start really seeing the benefits of digital whiteboards, and what they can do for today’s companies, the vendors producing these products need to think about how they can make adoption simpler for the masses. That’s likely to mean introducing better ways of advertising these products to their target market, and potentially looking for ways to lower the cost, too.


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Written by Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter

Hi I'm Rebekah, I have an unwavering passion for the technology sector, and I regularly stay up to date with the latest in UC and Cloud