The Office of Right Now

Half of workplaces around the world are mired in wires, plugs, and thinking from a decade ago. And the other half are forward-thinking and cutting-edge, full of technology. But almost all of them have failed to pay attention to – and design around – that handy little device in your hand. The mobile phone is changing your workspace more than any other technology out there. According to the ITU there are more than 7 billion mobile users in the world. And yet, many industries haven’t woken up to this fact.

The office of right now is flexible. Those open spaces, they’re as multi-use as your workforce is multi-talented. Rather than one-size-fits-all office environments, workers have a range of opportunities. Need quiet? Grab an office. Need to brainstorm with a group of people? Grab a huddle room. Need to just sit down with a laptop and plug in? The world is your oyster, as is every coffee shop in sight, not to mention a touchdown room.

You know who enabled this? You did. With your mobile device.

It’s the single most critical device in the workplace today. It’s your most trusty coworker. Your smartest assistant. Your most reliant source of data and information. It doesn’t care where you put it – briefcase, pocket, purse. But you care where it is – preferably right in the palm of your hand. Reliable, reachable, never too far away.

Yet, have you noticed how conference rooms, meeting rooms, and workspaces haven’t caught up with this fact? They’re still dependent on wires and cables. I went to a technology company in San Francisco and they had a ring of 30 different adapters just for their HDMI cables. Each type of device, each operating system accounted for. Long tables dominate the rooms with maybe a complex video system at one end. The most important device in our world the mobile device is rarely thought about or leveraged in these spaces. It won’t be long before you won’t have to worry about things like that ever again. The promise of plug-it-in, turn-it-on, and go? For some things like presentations and meetings, it’s already here. Interactive displays and whiteboards are ready-to-use, without complexity, without training, without having to call tech support. There are solutions from many vendors that allow your tablet and phone wireless interact with the device in the room. Forget about fiddling with the cable and losing ten minutes of presentation time to audio/visual technical difficulties.

Soon, the rest of the industry will catch up to this, too. As the mobile device continues to dominate the workplace, more and more companies will design technologies for them, rather than for laptops. Gone will be the unnatural act of trying to join two different devices with two different security domains and contact them together. In fact the concept we need to embrace is that everything in the office needs to act as a peripheral to your mobile device and these peripherals will be device agnostic.

Why make it hard for people to work? At SMART, we placed the mobile device at the forefront of our design strategy and developed 21st-century tools for business as a result. We combine the power of mobile with the simplicity of everyday objects like whiteboards so companies can better collaborate, share, and work together. We design for simplicity and ease of use. We make products that can be run from the touch of a finger on a mobile device. Collaboration should be simple. Sharing ideas and information should be as easy as tapping an app.

In the future, every corporate service will be accessible in an invisible way. There will be no difference between a corporate network and a public network – it’ll all come together. All the services will be in the cloud, so you can get at them wherever you are. Bandwidth becomes like water and corporate services will be like air. You can get these things wherever you are so it doesn’t matter where you move. This just continues to make the where less relevant and the mobile more important.

So what does this mean to you? Employees are consumers and users of technology. You’d have to pry that mobile device from their remarkably strong grips. As the workforce changes, the reliance on these devices will only increase in the coming years. Cut the (HDMI) cords and make meeting rooms presentation-ready with the touch of a fingertip. Set up your workforce for success by making it easy to use the tools and applications they want. Companies that not only recognize this but put a clear mandate on paving the way for mobile devices will have the clear lead in the coming years.


Ready to outfit your office of right now? Reimagine what’s possible with SMART kapp. 

Warren Barkley
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About Warren Barkley

Warren Barkley is SMART's Chief Technology Officer. He brings over 19 years of technology experience and leadership. Over the last two years at SMART he has built a world class technology team, created a new product category with SMART kapp, and award winning education SAAS SMART amp. Prior to his current role, he served as General Manager in the Microsoft Lync/Skype division. Barkley held several key positions in Microsoft over his tenure and was instrumental in the development of Microsoft Lync as the communication and collaboration software of choice for Fortune 500 companies. At Microsoft he also played a central role in establishing WiFi as a worldwide standard. Barkley holds over 60 worldwide patents in networking, wireless and communications. Mr. Barkley has degrees from University of British Columbia and University of Victoria. Before his technology career Warren was a teacher and musician.