This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

SMART Technologies’ newest smart board allows inking
from mobile devices and an instant-on capability,
among other collaboration-friendly features.

Interactive whiteboards, or smart boards, are certainly nothing new. In fact, I first used one in the early ’90s, when working at a college in Victoria, B.C. It was hard to use and quality was low — a situation that, unfortunately, lasted the better part of two decades and created a negative bias against the technology. But, as I wrote for No Jitter a year ago, smart boards are finally worth a serious look as part of an enterprise UC plan.

You might start with the SMART kapp IQ, introduced earlier today by SMART Technologies. With kapp IQ, SMART adds to its already highly successful digital whiteboard family. SMART took smart board technology a huge step forward with the original kapp, tethering the content on the board to mobile devices running the Android and iOS operating systems.

Without question, mobile devices are pervasive across all industries today. My research shows that more than 85% of knowledge workers use either a smartphone or tablet (or both in many cases) as part of their productivity toolkit. Being able to see and capture whiteboard content on a mobile device during a collaboration session is far better for participants than having to take notes busily during the call. Knowing they can capture the information means they can actually pay attention to what the speaker is saying and not worry about having to take a picture of the board once the presentation ends.

Kapp IQ takes this concept to the next level, using a high-resolution, 4K display. It can be used a standalone interactive whiteboard or as an in-room display for content from a laptop or other device.

In talking to SMART about the product, I learned that one of its design goals is to let people work the way they want. Years ago, smart board vendors pitched a vision in which multiple people stood at a board, collaborating. But people don’t work that way. Rather, collaborative sessions tend to involve one person standing at the board and everyone else sitting around a table. The problem to solve is bringing those seated individuals into the collaborative session without forcing them to crowd around a board. The most obvious way is through the mobile device, hence integration into the kapp family.

Kapp IQ requires no client, plug-ins, or additional software. A participant simply clicks on a link, and the interactive session runs natively in his or her browser. Anybody can contribute to the session in real time, drawing, writing, and erasing using different colored ink.

Another key feature of kapp IQ is the ability to walk up and use the board. Digital whiteboards can be intimidating to most users, and any complexity in starting the board serves as a deterrent to its use. Kapp IQ is very much like traditional whiteboards in that workers can walk up to the board, pick up a pen, and start writing. Instant on means instant collaboration.

As I mentioned before, kapp IQ is actually a 4K display, so it can replace all of the screens in use solely for content display in conference rooms today. And, in the very near future, SMART told me, workers will be able to ink over the top of content displayed on kapp IQ. Picture being able to bring up a Word document, PowerPoint deck or PDF on the conference room display and give users the ability to mark it up simultaneously from a mobile device, whether they are in the room or halfway around the world, and then save the comments for use later.

The product also enables project teams to capture information by being able to take snap-shots of the board at any time. This is analogous to tearing a page off a traditional pad and taping it on the wall. If you want to look back at a previous “page,” click on the saved page and see what’s there. These files also are available for use in future meetings.

Kapp IQ also records the entire session, giving workers the ability to play it back in full. Often workers may want to see how they got to a certain point. Now they can just rewind the smart board and replay the session.

SMART’s pricing for kapp IQ seems reasonable. The 55″ model will cost $3,999 and the 65″ screen will be $4,999; both are slated for June availability. Those prices are in line with those for commercial-grade displays today, so choosing kapp IQ rather than a display-only device is almost a no-brainer. You might say it’s a SMARTer way to work.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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