by Suparna Gharpure
Meetings as we have come to know them are about to change forever. The reasons? Driven by a shift toward distributed teams, and “asynchronous” communication, technology focusing on facilitating better meetings is finding its place in the sun. The outcome? A rapidly evolving landscape of tools that enable efficient collaboration, faster ways of working, and improving productivity levels.
Why now, you ask?. Companies are increasingly relying on a distributed teams to get stuff done — a product manager in Lisbon might be working with a designer in Shanghai and developers in New Delhi to deliver a feature that the sales team will tout to their clients in California. Gone are the days of “taking a conference room” in the office to huddle over a new idea, or catch up for long “team building” sessions. Time zone differences mean distributed teams must work asynchronously — and this includes asynchronous meetings, interspersed with some face-to-face Zoom calls, and perhaps an in-person meeting once a quarter.
This means there is an increasing organizational focus on tools that help remote teams collaborate effectively, and be more productive. Let’s look at some of the ways this is playing out.
We have all had this experience — the back and forth that goes into setting up a meeting. “Does 10am Thursday work for you?”. “I’m in meetings on Thu first half, how about 4pm instead?”, and so on. While it doesn’t seem like much, it quickly adds up! That’s where scheduling tools like x.ai come in — anyone can set up an AI assistant that takes care of the scheduling, including exchanging emails to lock down timings, a venue and more.
Voice controlled hardware
Voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are coming to take over conference rooms. Anyone who has fiddled with an HDMI cable to set up a presentation before a meeting begins, only to switch back and forth with the videoconferencing hardware knows the frustration of doing all this manually. Soon enough, you’ll be able to simply issue commands and make it happen — “pull up the presentation” — and voila !— the assistant will do it for you.
Taking meeting notes in a notebook with a pen and paper is probably one of the few remaining vestiges of the 19th century still found in modern workplaces. More importantly, it is an important activity that no one enjoys, meaning it is often done in less than ideal ways (case in point looooong minutes-of-the-meeting emails that no one seems to read). New tools will soon render manual note-taking redundant — if your AI assistant is able to listen into the meeting, understand what happened, and summarize the meeting into a crisp set of actionables, why take any manual notes? We’re not quite there yet, but there are some great tools in the market that are making headway into this problem.
Team collaboration tools
One way in which technology is changing meetings is by doing away with meetings altogether — as the world slowly but surely shifts to remote work, tools like Slack (and even better ways of doing email) are making it increasingly easy to collaborate asynchronously, reducing the need to spend time in meetings together. If you can keep the team updated, get feedback on your work and have clarity on next steps, all while never having to set foot in a conference room, why not! Moreover, tech platforms are increasingly coming packed with AI-powered features such as chatbots, reminder bots, auto-text reply bots, making it easier to communicate and collaborate offline.
While meetings will obviously remain a very human affair, with all the complexities that come with that, artificial intelligence will surely change the experience for the better — we can’t wait!
Suparna Gharpure is the founder of Jifi — a team collaboration and communication platform built around meeting productivity.
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