We've all heard it from companies who sell huddle room related products "That's what the client wants", but are they really wanting them or is it a potentially much easier sell than a custom conference room installation/integration? I tend to believe the latter, and here are some completely made up opinions and random thoughts.
Vendors are really pushing huddle room bundles. It's a worthwhile concept for small conference rooms, but it's hard to make a bundle revolving around large ones that vary in size, shape and usage. It's much easier to make a bundle to fit in a 10'x12' room. One can spec a certain table and electronic group. Are people buying them though? I'm sure they are but I've yet to see evidence.
I've heard more huddle room providers say that clients want them more than I've heard it from actual "potential" end users themselves. I've read more blogs about huddle rooms than just about any other solution lately. It's like the pundits are trying to predict the future of communication and just piggybacking on what vendors are pushing. Since writing my blog in April 2015 I've had the opportunity to talk to many video conference end users and corporate purchasers. Most are looking for conference room solutions, flying right in the face in vendors and pundits who chirp about the conference room being dead.
Putting multiple "huddle" products in a large open space makes little sense. All privacy goes out the window. There are noise issues as well. Noise cancelling devices are great for the remote site, but you're stuck on the wall street trading floor trying to have a private meeting.
The thought of companies with existing large conference rooms changing them to two to three huddle spaces is an insane expenditure and makes little sense on a whim. Not out of the question, but doesn't seem like a smart use of the facility unless the company never has a meeting with more than 6 people that don't care if they are crowded around a small table.
Some huddle rooms are vendor defined as taking the same equipment as a normal conference room, except for the table (they just propose a smaller one) and installing that. That's no savings for any company. Plus, depending on where the equipment is located, you may end up with a worse experience. Think of how close you will be sitting to a PTZ camera in a huddle room situation with it capturing the top of your head.
Old people think they know what millennials want and are trying to cater to that. This is becoming a larger problem overall in the industry. I get that there are more of them in the workforce than any other group but trying to make fashionable products gear toward them is a mistake. Then again, I am 45 years old and trying to tell you what people are using.
Room refreshes are on a 3-5 year cycle. In 3-5 years, what's going to be new fad that everyone jumps on? The previous fad was that HARDWARE WAS DEAD, that's been proven completely wrong. Before that was immersive telepresence, which while dwindling in installations, isn't dead. Huddle spaces are the current fad that will either be outdated or unused in a few years' time.
More and more I think it's vendors trying to tell customers what they want instead of the other way around. Huddle rooms are easier in deployment and cost less to fabricate, but that doesn't mean that they are appropriate for every situation.
Opinions above are those of Bryan Hellard and doesn't necessarily reflect those of any company he works for or with.