Our first Idea Chats Series post is brought to you by Christopher Travers. In this series we’ll be sharing findings on problems we’re currently exploring. Each post will follow a similar format: 1) what exists today (if any), 2) what are the problems with it, 3) what does the future look like?
I recently conducted a deep dive into the problem-riddled meeting room industry, and I say with confidence there's a massive opportunity to completely disrupt current meeting room scheduling softwares.
Dominant meeting room scheduling softwares suffer from the following issues in 2018:
1. They are inaccurate.
Room availability information is only as accurate as the users make it. When booking a meeting room, people have a tendency to book either for too much time, or for too little. Some people skip booking a meeting room all together, creating unnecessary confusion and conflict for those who do book rooms. Booking softwares are highly subject to human error.
2. They are not accessible everywhere.
Many current booking softwares lack a native mobile experience. This restricted access to the software results in fewer bookings than actual meetings held. The success of any booking software hinges on accuracy, so a proper booking software should be accessible from the computer, or on the go from a mobile app.
3. They are poorly designed.
Many popular booking softwares lack a proper attention to user experience design, thus re-iterating the problem that booking softwares are not easily accessible. Again—poor access to the booking software results in fewer bookings than actual meetings held. Booking a meeting should not induce a headache.
A proper meeting room booking software should be 100% accurate, should be easily accessible from a variety of devices, and should be designed with the user in mind. Of these three requirements, providing high quality design and cross-platform access is not inherently challenging - it just takes attention to detail and time. The challenging bit, and the huge opportunity to innovate in this space, is an aggressive pursuit of total accuracy.
In my opinion, there's only one feasible way to accomplish 100% accuracy of meeting room booking softwares: sensors. If a meeting room software company were to outfit a building's meeting rooms with presence sensors such as Enlightened, Aruba, or Estimote, a variety of unique opportunities would materialize:
Auto-remove a meeting from the calendar if the user is a no-show after ~15 minutes
Auto-book a meeting on the calendar if someone steps into a room without having booked a reservation
Auto-extend a meeting on the calendar by increments of ~15 minutes if a user remains in a room longer than their reservation
Auto-shorten a meeting on the calendar if a user leaves their reserved room for more than ~15 minutes after having occupied the room for more than ~15 minutes (verifying the user attended the meeting)
Provide building or space managers with room occupancy analytics
These are just a few applications that immediately come to mind in pursuit of total accuracy of meeting room booking softwares. Not only is the meeting room solutions industry ripe for disruption through the use of new technologies, the industry is growing rapidly. The global meeting room solutions market is anticipated to grow at a meteoric rate and register a high compound annual growth rate of 13.6% throughout 2017 to 2027. In 2016, the global market stood at $415.5M. It is expected to reach a value of more than $1,600M by the end of 2027.
There's a substantial opportunity for someone to bring easy access, user-centric design, and 100% accuracy to the meeting room solutions industry.