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The Cost of Digital Distractions in Live Meetings

Marc Crawford
Posted byMarc Crawford
on 09/21/16 12:19 AM

Marc Crawford is the CEO and Co-Founder of Educational Measures and sets the strategic direction for the company. Marc was recognized in 2012 as a Top 5 Most Influential Young Professional by ColoradoBiz magazine and is Six Sigma certified. Marc is an avid runner and he also enjoys designing and making his kids' halloween costumes every year.

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As a business owner, live meeting expert, and human being in general, I know that technology is both an invaluable asset and monumental challenge. 

One of the biggest hurdles is the byproduct of endless options and unlimited access: distraction. From workers who cannot focus, to increasing data loads, digital distraction is plaguing businesses and carrying big costs. 

Gloria Mark of the University of California at Irvine found that the average worker only gets 11 minutes between interruptions and that it often takes 25 minutes to return focus to the original task. This produces a negative cycle of mental burden and reduced productivity that can cost as much as $10,000 per employee. 



Live Meeting Implications

As we were developing our own live meeting technology, the challenge of digital distraction was admittedly not one of our primary concerns. We focused more on issues of security and connectivity that come from building a tool that uses a vendor or venue’s Wi-Fi network. 

Throughout development, we realized that our technology platform needed a private local network, independent of the vendor. A secondary benefit, that we now see as integral, is our ability to funnel focus and keep participant attention within the confines of this controlled system. 

Second Screen Solutions

Most existing conference apps and web-based tools use the available public network and a participant’s own technology. Because of this simultaneous usage, every time an email arrives or a text message is received, people are automatically taken out of the meeting or event experience. 

Whether a momentary lapse, or a single distraction that prompts a longer mental detour, this attention loss corrodes away at the effectiveness of the meeting. This distraction is much more than a focus issue; it is a daunting financial burden. If a meeting costs $250,000 and participants are disengaged for even just ten minutes every hour, that's a hypothetical loss of $41,500 over the course of the event.

Combined with our local network, Educational Measures, LLC (EM) introduced second screen technology that blocks access to any other content. While we cannot completely eliminate personal devices, we can provide an obvious and directed way to focus on the material being presented at the event. 

Preventative Loss Calculator

Data Overload Solutions

Another aspect of digital distraction is the sheer amount of data produced. The Overload Research Group completed a study showing that workers in the United States waste 25% of their time managing constantly growing content streams, at an annual price tag of $997 billion.

Problems generated by technology must be solved by technology. Just like email filters that reduce inbox overload or automated social media posting, live meeting data streams can also be managed. 

We did this by simplifying data production and interpretation. Our collection tools gather information in real-time and then generate insight reports that give meaning to these numbers. Instead of inundating clients with confusing data, we automatically streamline the process and deliver strategic information that is relevant to their needs. 

The Key to Engagement

The right technology used effectively is the key to engaging live meeting participants. Successful implementation can eliminate distractions and prompt new levels of conference interaction. By overcoming boredom and combating potential interruptions, businesses capture value through maximized participant experiences. 

Digital distractions will never be completely eliminated, but by controlling them, we can make sure that they don’t end up controlling us.


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