The Death of Paper and “Device-olation” in the Boardroom

Think about this one for a minute… everywhere we go, everything we do these days is digitized. Banking, paying bills, email, Skype, listening to music, looking up our kids’ progress in school… This is a digital age, and whether in our work or personal lives, technology gives us unprecedented power to get things done.   

At work, we moved from memos and message pads to email and voicemail. The facsimile was revolutionary not all that long ago, but our kids are likely never to encounter one. And with the shift to “real-time communications,” we have turned to tools like Skype for Business to streamline our workflow.

When we want to reach someone, we look at their “presence,” IM them, and then escalate to a voice or video call as appropriate. We hold large meetings with participants from around the globe and marvel at it all. But then we turn to the traditional engines of nearly every meeting: whiteboards (circa 1950s) and flip charts (circa late 1800s). And it makes me wonder: how did this collaboration tool get left behind? If ever there was a piece of hardware screaming for a makeover, it’s the one right there in your boardroom.

Every single day, amazing, thought-provoking, even game-changing content is written on those dinosaurs known as whiteboards. It’s valuable stuff that we want and often need to capture. But whiteboards are the last analog holdout in a digital world. So we take a picture of our work on the whiteboard (usually blurry, hard to read, and frustrating to retrieve after the fact), or we ask someone to transcribe and email the notes to the team.

Kind of mind blowing, when you think about it.

As touch screen technology permeates display technology of all shapes and sizes, and as TVs and whiteboards become smarter, the “caveman collaboration” tools of old will become but a footnote in boardroom history. This rapid transition will be fueled in part by Millennials, who want and expect real-time connectedness at a moment’s notice along with the ability to store, share and capture.

During this transition, we’ll also see relief from one of the great unspoken pains in today’s meeting environments: “device-olation.” I look at device-olation as the unfortunate outcome of too many phones, screens and devices that wind up being more of a distraction to a meeting than an asset. Instead of feeling engaged, participants retreat into an isolated world on a personal device. But with the pipeline of new technology poised to take over the boardroom, we’ll be able to shepherd the BYOD generation in more meaningful and engaging ways, making those devices part of the solution, not part of the problem.


Discover the cure for “device-olation” with the family of SMART kapp products.

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.