Enabling creativity: Collaboration technology at its finest

Enabling creativity: Collaboration technology at its finest
Jan Willem Brands is General Manager for the Collaboration division of Barco. He is based in Taiwan from where he manages the innovation and marketing teams for ClickShare and WePresent in Europe and Asia.


In the UK the creative industries contribute £84.1 billion to the economy. To put that into perspective, they are growing almost twice as quickly as the rest of the economy. With this exponential growth there is an increased focus on productivity and efficiency — particularly as deadlines become tighter and budgets more constrained.

Time wasting in any industry can be a death knell for bottom lines, but especially in the creative sector where each hour is worth £9.6 million.

But what exactly are creatives doing to ensure, not only that they are able to deliver on their projects, but able to keep the levels of actual creativity up?

The technology answer

The answer is often found in technology. Despite much media coverage recently on the role of artificial intelligence in writing books and films, technology can’t increase creativity. But, it can enable and support it by making the lives of creatives that much easier. Looking at a typical environment within these industries — producing a television show or publishing a magazine — one of the most important aspects of the process is collaboration. Teams of people work together to brainstorm ideas, flesh them out and ultimately shape them into scripts, shows, features and stories.

It is here that technology has a significant part to play — and not just in the hardware and software that is needed for creatives to complete day-to-day tasks, but in the way that they engage with each other, share those ideas and bring them to fruition. More often than not this happens in a meeting room environment where multiple people need to share the presentation screen — sometimes simultaneously. Usually this means all meeting participants need to use cables to connect, which presents a challenge as not everyone uses the same type of device or the same operating system. The result is that IT is called to sort out these connection issues, wasting precious time and putting the brakes on the creative process.

Ideal collaboration tech

Ideally what is needed is a wireless collaboration system, one that allows meeting participants to connect via USB for laptops and an app for tablets and smartphones. The system should also easily cater for different device manufacturers and operating systems, whether that is iOS, Windows or Android.

Once the problem of connecting is out of the way, the presentation device should be easy to set up for first-time users, as well as user friendly, intuitive and speedy overall. Of course having multiple people able to share the screen at the same time would be particularly beneficial, especially when brainstorming ideas or presenting concepts to a wider team or in a pitching situation. In a pitch, for example, the idea and vision has to be communicated clearly and with clarity, and the first pitfall may come if the information on a laptop or smart device cannot be shared easily.  Technology alone is clearly not enough, users also need it to be fail-safe and in practice this would mean streamlining the sharing process and connecting different types of devices to a shared screen.

In the creative industries where quality and visual appeal are prized, it is vital that any audio, video or graphic elements are represented in the same way as they are viewed on individual screens. As a result, the supporting collaboration technology has to be able to translate this onto the shared screen in a simple and effective way — again, without the use of cables, adaptors or help from IT in getting the audio heard or the screen resolution right.

The way forward

Technology may not increase creativity or necessarily make people more creative, but it can certainly support them in their day-to-day tasks and provide a platform that enables productivity and efficiency. In effect, technology and particularly collaboration technology in this case, makes sure that creatives can be creative without worrying about the minutiae of cabling, interoperability and operation.

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