Ever since men first gathered around camp fires to plan the next hunt, decide on what seeds to sow next season, tell stories, or settle disputes among neighbors, such gatherings, or meetings, have been an integral part of all cultures. Fast forward to the present day, and technology has drastically changed the way we hold meetings. The capability to send textual, visual and audio information via interconnected cables that span the world, has made possible the holding of meetings without the physical presence of participants, who can be on different continents.
Baby Steps at Mobile Meetings
The wonder of the internet took out the problem of distance from holding meetings, but this came with a compromise. The cables that connect us to any part of the globe, now has tied us to our PCs, desks, and offices. Even Neo, who had bullet-dodging powers in the Matrix, has to race to a phone booth, a phone line — a cabled terminal, and literally dial-up to transport him back to reality. Laptop computers were good; but portability only offered a partial solution, that although we could live with, was not what people and businesses really needed.
True “mobility” – being free from cabled terminals, was the real solution. When WiFi networks started cropping up, the light at the end of the tunnel was in sight. Laptops could harness the advantages of WiFi, but they were still too bulky for most to carry around. The race was on to make gadgets smaller, lighter, but more powerful; a trend that we have been observing in phones for almost a decade now, which went from analog, to cellular, to smart phones. In the case of computers, it was PCs, to laptops, to notebooks and tablets, and at the apex of mobile computing was the iPad.
How the iPad Changed the World
Some would argue that the iPad was more of a marketing innovation, rather than a technological one, since there was nothing new about the technologies it had — touch screen, miniaturized but powerful processors, etc, all these already existed before the iPad. Yet none can deny that the iPad revolutionized mobile computing by popularizing the technology, worldwide, overnight.
But being mobile was one thing, doing something while you’re mobile is another. With the iPad offering a stable platform, and more importantly, commanding a huge market, not long came wave after wave of mobile applications that flooded AppStores. It didn’t matter if it was useful, what mattered was that an app was interesting. There were mobile apps for everything — from entertainment, business, learning, socializing, etc. There was an app for everything that we like to do, and still more apps for the things that we have to do. It was not long ago, popular media had teens grumbling to nagging parents that their phones were their lives; now with the iPad, they can actually expand their gadget-dimensioned existence.
Joining the Business World
With the iPad and a mass of mobile apps for any business endeavor, enterprises went truly mobile. Within 90 days of its release, the iPad managed to penetrate 50% of Fortune 100 companies. Everything that can be done in an office, was being done outside the office. Carrying an iPad was like carrying your office and everything with it – indeed, the realization of the “mobile office”. You can have a whole lot of files stored, and access loads more at the office, or online through the cloud. For communication, you can be connected 24×7 to your office, through messaging and video streaming apps. Suddenly, no one can escape a staff meeting, as with your iPad, you can convene with your officemates who may be just three floors down, at home, or on remote business trips. Even formal board room meetings or ad hoc management convenes can be called anytime, anywhere, executives with iPads can easily be reached for interactive discussions or expert advice.
Like the Internet, the iPad further shrunk the world into a 7×5-inch screen — we can have a small-group discussion, a meeting, with a few people who are oceans apart, and discuss the weather in Paris, with accurate real-time weather forecasts. Or, our small group, joined by a local in the Bahamas, can have a more serious discussion of how global warming will affect the climate in his country, where we plan to venture some capital into its tourism industry. All the information our small group may need to make our discussion substantial can be accessed via the internet and shared to all participants in the meeting. In addition, all the documents to record our collaborative decision can be presented to all participants and signed with annotation tools.
This scenario seems typical with each participant holding an iPad, but such an app to host this meeting, with features to enable the activities in that meeting scenario, is difficult to come by. Most mobile meetings are conducted through chat facilities that lack structure and order; while video conferences, though appealing when participants can view one another, do not give quick access to files and documents that may serve as important references necessary for making critical decisions. Sure there are other apps to get information or documents from, but believe me that juggling different apps at the same time while staying focused on the meeting window with your boss waiting, can be a very stressful task.
So What’s Next for Meetings?
An ideal solution for iPad Meetings has to get down to the basics of meaningful online meetings and collaborations:
- Mobility (Anywhere and anytime access)
- Structure and organization
- Quick access to documents, files and references
- File sharing and viewing of documents
An alternative solution offers all of these features and much, much more. Convene – an enterprise-grade app for iPad, Android, and web, information sharing and real-time collaboration. It is the perfect platform for conducting board meetings with jetsetting executives as participants. Convene’s multi-tier security features offer more privacy than closed-door face-to-face meetings, where anyone can eavesdrop. Convene on your iPad, is the best combination you can ever get for mobile meetings for any purpose in any scenario.