[Q&A] Steljes Boss on the Rise of Smart Technology

By Annifer Jackson

Martin joined Steljes as Financial Director in June 1996, became Managing Director in March 2003, and Group Chief Executive when the company evolved in July 2005. Today, the company has revenues of £57m. Here he took time out to talk to Business Review Europe about the rise of smart technology.

BR EME: How would you explain smart technologies to your average office-worker?

ML: At the simplest level, smart technologies are time-saving digital replacements for your typical dry erase whiteboard or office flip chart.

What problems do these technologies solve?

Meeting gripes: most meetings end with someone having to transcribe the meeting’s discussion and action points before anyone can get moving, but these technologies allow teams to document the journey, destination and actions and e-mail them as the meeting ends for immediate communication and ultimate business efficiency.

Full team contribution: you don’t have to be present at a meeting to physically add your ideas to the meeting presentation because you can just link up to the meeting via your internet enabled device and write over the presentation in digital ink for all to see.

Smooth remote working: companies often use audio and video conferencing solutions but these technologies only partly answer the problem –what’s the point of being able to hear and see each other if everyone is taking their own separate (potentially inaccurate) paper notes?

SMART visual collaboration solutions enable teams to both see and hear each other and anyone at the meeting – regardless of their location – and take over the screen to share comments digitally over any application.

Who is currently using smart collaborative technologies?

These technologies are used by every type of organisation and in every vertical. We work with multinational enterprises like EDF, Audi and BT, with charities such as the RSCPA, and organisations in the public sector like the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – you’d be surprised how much of a difference smart collaborative technologies can make to every type of business.

O2 are using the technology to improve their operational efficiency. Instead of travelling to meetings, O2 employees use SMART’s visual collaboration solutions, which have helped them to realise significant cost benefits.

Why should other businesses invest in collaborative technologies?

The world of work is in the midst of significant cultural change, driven mainly by technology advances and a desire from employees to have a better work/life balance. 

Companies are increasingly adopting BYOD and work from home policies, especially in the light of the recent developments in law that extend the statutory right to request flexible working to all employees who have  over 26 weeks' service.

Where do you see these smart technologies going in five years’ time and what will they have changed?

Going into the office on a daily basis will become a thing of the past, as using interactive technologies that have a video element will be the normal way of working. This is great news for all those commuters who spend hours every week just trying to get to and from work. 

Also, I’d say that organisations will no longer be providing technology for their employees to use as BYOD will have superseded this requirement.

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