Hardware vs. Software: Where’s the Industry Going?

When you opened your last smartphone, you were probably surprised to find there was no port to plug in your headphones. Or maybe it was when you went to plug an HDMI cable into your laptop, only to discover…a lot of nothing.

No, there’s no need to put out an APB for your missing outlets. It’s simply the latest step in the evolution of how we share and connect with our technology – with the emphasis moving from connecting devices by plugging in external hardware to communicating via software. In the phone example, the change is being driven by Bluetooth connections between your wireless headphones and your phone; laptops connected to collaboration tools such as Webex can share their screens within the software, rather than plugging into a central AV hub.

This evolution was sped up by supply chain backups during the pandemic, but it’s been well underway for years. Let’s look at the pros and cons of replacing software with hardware – and how RoomReady is approaching the shift.

What’s holding software back – and what’s moving it forward

Perhaps one of the toughest stumbling blocks to a software-driven meeting room is getting started. Although adopting software helps reduce capital investment upfront – a significant advantage for small to mid-size businesses – it can be less plug-and-play. It takes time to get the software installed and help users become comfortable casting their screens, for example, rather than plugging in a cable. It does assume that you’ll have a consistent network connection, which isn’t always the case, and it can be hard to isolate the software from your network, leading to IT vulnerabilities if you’re not careful.

Once you overcome the complexities in launching a software-driven meeting room, however, the benefits are numerous. First and foremost, it makes a big impact on how power is consumed. Power supplies are the biggest risk in a system, adding potential failure points throughout your meeting room – reduce the amount of equipment needed to connect to your meeting room, reduce power supplies.

A software-driven meeting room is also far easier to maintain. Upgrades to your hardware often require additional investment and a long wait for the new parts to arrive. Today, when Microsoft releases a Teams update, for example, as long as you have a licensed device, you immediately get the upgrade. And because the software is constantly providing operational data, it becomes far easier to monitor and manage equipment at an organizational level.

How RoomReady Can Help

Remember when I said that getting started with software was a challenge? That’s where RoomReady comes in. Our goal is to be your solution provider, driving simplicity in your meeting room not only from a technology perspective, but in execution and implementation. It’s right there in the first two steps of our RoomReady Way process – we assess your needs and build a solution that fits your meeting space. As part of that conversation, we can help you understand whether a software-driven meeting room is the right fit for you.

If you decide to take a hardware-lite approach to your meeting space, we can handle the installation and ensure both users and IT are thoroughly trained on the room – giving you the benefits of a software-driven meeting space without the hassles. And because there are some elements of meeting room hardware that aren’t going anywhere, such as displays, microphones and speakers, we’ll ensure your collaboration tools and other software solutions are properly integrated throughout the room for a seamless experience.

Want to learn more?

At RoomReady, we think software-driven meeting spaces are a trend that will only grow in importance. I recently participated in a LAVCH Week panel on the topic – if you want to learn more, I invite you to check out a recap of the event. And, of course, always feel free to contact RoomReady if you’d like to discuss your meeting room technology.