What impact could a $5000 cloud enabled whiteboard really have on your business?
We started using Jamboard at Cloudbakers soon after it launched in May of 2017.
And after just a few months, Jamboard is proving its value. This high tech whiteboard has fundamentally changed the dynamics of our team meetings – both in terms of how we conduct them and what we’re getting out of them.
What is Jamboard?
According to TJ Varghese, Google’s G Suite Product Manager, Jamboard is “a collaborative, digital whiteboard that makes it easy for your team to share ideas in real-time and create without boundaries.” In other words: “We’re moving the whiteboard to the cloud.”
Physically, the Jamboard is impressive tech. A 55-inch, 4K display. State-of-the-art touch response. Built-in HD camera, speakers, microphone, and WiFi. Single cable setup. Battery-free interactive devices. And, of course, G Suite app integration (so yes, you need a G Suite plan in order to access and share files to Drive).
How Does the Jamboard Work?
What struck me from the first time using it was how easy and intuitive Jamboard is.
At its most basic level, you can walk up to a Jamboard and just start writing or drawing. You don’t even need to use the included stylus – your finger works just fine. You can wipe it away with your finger, too, or use the electronic eraser if you prefer.
You can pull in and share documents, maps, pictures, slides, and spreadsheets from your G Suite applications. You can even throw in media from integrated apps like YouTube or Netflix.
Jonathan Rochelle, G Suite Product Director, likened Jamboard to a physical extension of Google’s office suite without tying users to specific apps. “We were putting people in sort of productivity boxes from the start. You had to choose right away, are you going to use Docs, a spreadsheet, or a slide deck? We thought that might somehow limit creativity."
With Jamboard, you can use stencils to create professional images, or use the handwriting and shape recognition tools to “tidy up” your scrawlings. And since each session is automatically saved in Google Drive, there’s no scrambling to print a hard copy – or to write “DO NOT ERASE” when a session goes long.
Remote attendees can participate in one of two ways: via their own linked Jamboard or through an app downloaded to their mobile device. With these apps, they can not only see the Jamboard, but also add and share to it just like they were there (although they can’t directly enjoy the 55-inch screen).
How Is Jamboard Reinventing Meetings?
After just a few months using Jamboard, I feel like we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do. But already, I’m seeing huge changes in our meetings.
Adding and Rearranging Objects
I mentioned how easily you can add G Suite files and documents to a jam session. You can also browse to a webpage, drag it, and drop it onto your board. Each object placed there can then be moved, cropped, looped, and grouped.
This smart rearranging is a feature sorely lacking from traditional whiteboards. On Jamboard, I can rearrange items by priority, by category, by function – or by whatever means I choose to sort them. I can even separate them by dropping them onto different boards within the jam session (like different tabs on a spreadsheet).
Seamless Brainstorming to Strategizing
Whiteboards and flipcharts are great for brainstorming, but when it comes time to formulate action plans and strategies, you’re typically starting on a blank sheet from scratch.
With Jamboard, all you have to do is move things around. It’s as easy as drag and drop.
Create your brainstorming list on one board. Then simply move each item to the action plan where it belongs. For example, I could create a sales action plan, a marketing action plan, and an operations plan. I could then move each brainstorming item to the appropriate plan, reorder them by priority, and assign them to team members.
Jamboard makes it easy to create and visualize flowcharts and workflows. For example, I could drop each page of a website into the jam session. I could draw shapes around each page to denote form or function, move them into order, and show hyperlinks as connecting lines between them.
I could also create flowcharts to map out business processes, like the steps in our sales cycle.
With Jamboard, it’s as if every meeting participant has a felt marker in his or her hand. Anyone logged into the jam session can participate – not just the person standing in front of the whiteboard.
This makes it easier for remote participants to contribute and feel involved. It also lets your more introverted team members – including some of your more creative types – add to the discussion without “standing at the head of the table.” In fact, even if they’re sitting in the same room with the Jamboard, they can add to the board through their smartphones without leaving their seats.
The Jamboard’s interactive features make for excellent teaching tools because you can “mark things up” in your session without actually rewriting them. So if an employee is sharing a client proposal, you can edit it with red “ink” just like a school paper. This allows the employee to process the corrections and rewrite the paper after, providing a much better learning experience.
One of Jamboard’s most useful features could actually be the automatic archiving of each session. You don’t need to save it, print it, send it, or anything. And you won’t just get the “final copy” of your boards, either - each participant retains access to the entire recorded session.
Not only does this save a tremendous amount in terms of supplies (paper, ink, and copier life), but it also captures the “why” of decisions made during the meeting. You can go back and review the point in question, see where it was moved from, or listen to the reasoning behind it.
Jamboard isn’t just for your internal meetings, either. We’ve started using Jamboard with clients, too.
What I’ve discovered so far is that Jamboard lets your clients interact with you directly. They can make drawings, illustrate problems, markup ideas, fill out checklists, and so much more. You can use it cooperatively to create workflows and visualize all their inputs and outputs. This is a powerful way to define the needs of your client as well as the scope of a project.
Reinvent Your Meetings
As you can probably tell, I’m excited by the way Jamboard is transforming our meetings here at Cloudbakers.
If you’re still using whiteboards and flipcharts, Jamboard is just one more reason to get started with cloud collaboration. At Cloudbakers, we specialize in change management for your cloud migration, so you can implement your G Suite apps and cloud collaboration right. So if you’re ready to take advantage of the cloud – and cool new tech like Jamboard – contact us today.
Originally published on September 20, 2017