olly - Fotolia
For most companies, engaging remote workers means adopting video conferencing and team collaboration. According to Nemertes Research's recent studies, more than 91% of companies now use video meeting applications, and nearly 65% have deployed team collaboration applications, with usage surging since the start of the pandemic. These tools enable virtual workers to take part in productive meetings, as well as engage in informal, contextual conversations.
Still, there is one aspect of in-person engagement that video conferencing and team collaboration struggle to replace: ideation. And this is where online whiteboard apps can help employees with virtual ideation.
Consider the functions of a team responsible for product design. Before the pandemic, team members would meet in person in a conference room or huddle space. They would share and annotate designs as they captured notes and action items on a whiteboard. They might use the whiteboard to brainstorm or design workflows. In some cases, meeting participants might even use an in-room physical digital whiteboard to capture text and drawings to enable remote meeting participants to see content, make suggestions and share their own ideas.
Fast forward to today, where the majority of workers are now remote, and meeting in person -- not to mention access to a digital whiteboard -- is largely unavailable.
Making ideas a reality
Fortunately, virtual whiteboard apps can help solve the remote ideation challenge. A number of companies -- among them Bluescape, CollaBoard, Conceptboard, Klaxoon, iObeya, Microsoft, Miro, Mural and Stormboard -- offer tools that feature a digital canvas used by teams to share content, sketch out ideas, build workflows and establish processes.
Each of these products enables the kinds of ideation and development that previously were only possible when meeting in person. Most include templates to enable teams to easily kick off projects and workflows. Integrations are typically available with file storage and team collaboration applications that let workgroups connect their digital whiteboards to their collaboration hubs.
Tools may also support specific virtual ideation use cases, such as customer engagement to develop proposals or product designs; Kanban boards to support application development workflows in Agile software development; and the use of virtual whiteboards to present and capture information, either to replace slide-based presentations or to facilitate group discussions and workshops.
The key challenges, so far, in implementing online whiteboards for virtual ideation is lack of awareness of the product space, concerns that virtual whiteboard apps are yet another collaboration tool that must be supported and the perception that existing whiteboarding capabilities built into meeting apps are sufficient.
Those responsible for enterprise collaboration should evaluate digital whiteboard applications to determine if they'll benefit the organization's distributed teams and customers. Check to make sure these applications will integrate with your existing collaboration apps and they are engineered to protect your data, restrict unauthorized access and support any compliance requirements.