In the past, brainstorming meant gathering in the same room to share ideas — sometimes capturing them on a physical whiteboard. Today, technology has evolved to allow for virtual meetings on digital whiteboards, with teams joining discussions from anywhere in the world.
Not only has this development empowered everyone to capture ideas in one single place, but it’s also resulted in improved collaboration.
What is a digital whiteboard?
A digital whiteboard is a cloud-based platform that permits anyone in an idea creation session to take control of a board and contribute to its content. Examples in the business world include team collaboration and continuing education.
Traditional whiteboards required personal interaction, with people jotting down ideas with markers. This system worked well when all meeting participants were in the same room. Anyone could draw a sketch or write an idea on the board. Problems with this system arose when remote meetings became more common.
When some meeting participants are in a room with a whiteboard while others are remote, an imbalance occurs. Those in the room can still write ideas on the whiteboard. Cameras recording the meeting focus on the board to allow those remotely connecting to see what’s on it, but a remote participant who wants to contribute has to describe their ideas to someone else, who then captures them on the whiteboard. This process can be difficult and confusing.
Team members working together remotely need an easy way to collaborate. A digital online whiteboard allows anyone who is logged into the meeting to create drawings, make notes to share, brainstorm maps, contribute to lists, and more. Meetings are still a highly productive place to share ideas, but digital whiteboards provide enhanced collaboration.
As just a couple of examples, board development team members can add their contributions to a brainstorming map on the online whiteboard as they discuss the ideas in a remote meeting. Instructors for continuing education classes can write problems on the board and request individuals in the class to write answers to those problems on the digital whiteboard.
Online whiteboards work well for remote, in-person, and hybrid meetings, allowing everyone in attendance, no matter where they are, to contribute. More interaction among team members at a meeting results in a larger pool of ideas from which to draw when finalizing plans, creating designs, or making decisions.
Why use a digital whiteboard?
Cloud-based solutions are simple to use and accessible from anywhere. Using secure logins, only authorized individuals can view and make changes to the whiteboard. This level of security ensures information shared in meetings stays private.
Because it’s a cloud-based solution, a digital whiteboard allows ready access from anywhere in the world. The ease of access appeals to those who need to remotely participate in meetings.
With traditional whiteboards, teams lose information as soon as someone erases the board. A digital whiteboard lets you save the file to a cloud content management (CCM) program of your choosing or email copies to others in the group.
Connecting to a CCM platform also allows you to upload files to the digital whiteboard. You can use the files to annotate documents or add changes to existing images. Others in the meeting can also make additions to the image through the whiteboard.
What to look for in a digital whiteboard solution
Decide how your business will use the digital whiteboard before looking for the right platform. Understand how features such as facilitation, collaboration, organization, and action all play parts in how your teams use the app. Some groups require more capacity for creative collaboration than others. Consider these factors to find the best solution for your teams’ needs.
Facilitation in a digital whiteboard platform allows meetings to flow more easily while still enabling productivity. A designated facilitator can use options on the platform to ensure everyone has a chance to provide input and keep the meeting focused and on topic.
An online digital whiteboard may help facilitate productivity with features like polling and presenting. Polls give everyone in the meeting a voice and take seconds to tabulate for faster decision-making. Focus tools reduce the time spent on finding the correct portion of the visual to look at. And again, connecting with outsiders ensures everyone’s voice gets heard.
Whiteboard solutions that encourage facilitation reduce wasted time for everyone at meetings and speed up decisions and planning.
Most often, teams use boards for collaboration. A digital whiteboard lets everyone add ideas to a shared space from their own devices. Whiteboard solutions have several features that make collaboration clearer, faster, and easier. Look for these features if collaboration is your main reason for using a digital whiteboard:
- Commenting: A whiteboard should allow for dialogue with chat and commenting features
- Color-coded editing: Participants should be able to quickly see who made which contributions to the file — that way, anyone contributing to the project later on knows who can provide clarification on an idea
Most users today are already familiar with these types of feedback mechanisms because of social media, which reduces the learning curve needed to integrate a digital whiteboard into your meetings.
And the collaboration doesn’t have to end after your meeting. Digital whiteboards save the information on your canvas, where users can add their ideas long after the meeting ends.
Meetings in the past that used sticky notes, paper, and traditional whiteboards used to mean sorting through materials and carefully copying the contents of the whiteboard, often into a digital document. An online digital whiteboard, on the other hand, allows for instant organization.
Color-coded contributions quickly allow anyone to see who added which ideas. Other organizational features for digital whiteboards may include:
- Sorting features: These allow you to organize canvas information based on colors, poll results, or tags
- Templates: Preset layouts make organizing your ideas on the whiteboard canvas easier
These organizational features facilitate efficient review of the canvas during the brainstorming process and later after the meeting is over.
Your teams need a way to quickly take action from information gained in meetings. Actionable features of digital whiteboards should make creating plans and making decisions easier. A whiteboard that facilitates decision-making improves your business's productivity and makes the time invested in meetings worthwhile.
Color-coded comments make creating assignments for the next phase of work after a meeting easier for the facilitator. Poll results help a facilitator determine which ideas were most accepted among those at the meeting.
Organizational tools and integrations facilitate the merging of ideas created on the whiteboard platform with planning and workflow software.
Organizing the information on a canvas will also make it easier for team members to return to the canvas later on. This review of the brainstorming session will let them see how well their work plan adapted to the original ideas created during the meeting.
Features on a whiteboard platform that allow your team to take action quickly after a meeting boost the effectiveness of these sessions. These tools also reduce wasted time and preserve productivity levels in your company.
How digital whiteboards can benefit business
The advantages of incorporating this technology into your in-person and remote meetings include perks for both participants and your company. Make a digital whiteboard part of your development and collaboration to reap some of the following advantages:
Get full participation from all meeting members
Traditional whiteboards required everyone to physically be present to interact with the board. The time it takes to walk up to the board also wastes meeting time.
An online digital whiteboard promotes inclusivity and participation. The ease of interacting with the whiteboard makes adding ideas easy for anyone, regardless of location.
Remote collaboration: The way forward
Remote collaboration is essential in the modern world where some people may log into meetings from home or around the world. A digital online whiteboard only requires the ability to access the internet. Anyone can bring unique ideas to the meeting for a more productive, richer brainstorming session.
Save information gathered during meetings
Online digital whiteboard solutions do not require copying down data on pieces of paper or making physical copies to distribute information after a meeting. Your facilitator wastes less time by simply saving and uploading the canvases to a CCM platform. From there, sharing the data is fast and simple, because you can simply email a secure link to participants and other stakeholders.
Readily add files and images to your digital whiteboard
A digital whiteboard connected to a CCM platform allows fast uploading of additional images or files to the canvas. A meeting facilitator could upload a preliminary concept drawing of a design idea to allow others to give their opinions or add proposed changes. Participants can add comments or sketches to these images to convey their ideas.
Email whiteboard images to others outside the meeting
Not every stakeholder in a project is present in every meeting. An online digital whiteboard allows those unable to attend the meeting to receive an email of the canvas for examination and add their ideas. Those outside the meeting who need to provide approval for an idea discussed during the session can review the whiteboard canvas and quickly give their opinion on the concept. Emailing canvases from online whiteboards reduces time wasted and allows for even more valuable input.
Box whiteboard solutions and collaboration
The Content Cloud provides solutions for businesses with connected whiteboard solutions and other collaboration features. The easy-to-use platform allows for rapid flow of information, from designing concepts to completing a project. The whiteboard digital integrations Box provides are only a few of the thousands of app options Box offers in the Content Cloud, ensuring a comprehensive suite of programs for secure, productive collaboration.
Secure collaboration brings people together from both inside and outside your company to add their ideas and contributions to a project. Content Cloud features allow users on any device from anywhere in the world to incorporate their perspectives, opinions, and ideas into the project.
Box also allows for real-time teamwork through tools like Box Notes. This solution offers a text format in which to share ideas and take notes. Multiple users can work on the same project while seeing each other’s contributions. This option can serve as an alternative to a digital whiteboard in situations that only require text editing, changing information, or commenting. A whiteboard digital solution still works better for creating freeform drawings as part of the collaboration process.
Box integrations with more productivity tools
Box integrations allow you to use your existing favorite business apps while working securely in the Content Cloud. Apps that pair with Box include the most popular apps by Adobe, Microsoft, Slack, Salesforce, and Oracle — apps commonly used across many industries. Pairing these platforms with Box boosts the security of documents and the ability to collaborate with others in real time.
Integrate all your productivity tools to get work done quickly and efficiently while ensuring security and connectivity with the Content Cloud.
Benefits of real time whiteboard collaboration
Upgrade to digital whiteboards for real-time idea sharing in meetings. The ability to connect with others in real time is why in-person meetings remained popular for so long. But businesses discovered they didn’t need to let distance stop their productivity once technology permitted remote access to meetings.
An online digital whiteboard continues to let creativity flow while making remote meetings more productive regardless of the participants' locations. Your company could be missing out on the following benefits by not using real-time collaboration with online digital whiteboards.
No delays in feedback on ideas
Participants receive immediate feedback when using digital online whiteboards. They don’t need to wait for a review of the information or verbal confirmation of their ideas. Color-coded additions to the canvas and comments on items facilitate feedback in real-time. Participants in a meeting who can get immediate feedback or comments can follow up on popular ideas or change their thinking for less-well-received proposals.
The back-and-forth discussion that occurs when presenting ideas is essential to a productive brainstorming session. Immediate feedback on an online whiteboard provides this type of conversation.
Ability to draw concepts instead of describing them
Not all people can convey their ideas with words. A digital whiteboard allows anyone to draw sketches or create flow charts of ideas to get their points across to others. The ability for anyone to contribute with words or images makes real-time collaboration with a digital whiteboard an inclusive option for meetings.
Faster approval of proposed ideas
Proposed ideas can quickly undergo polling for rapid approval via a digital whiteboard. Digital polls can calculate results more quickly than a facilitator verbally asking all participants for their opinions. Faster idea assessment results in meetings that pass quicker and waste less time.
Everyone has access to make and view changes
Real-time whiteboard collaboration allows everyone to immediately see and add to the canvas. They don’t need to wait for emails or memos to reach them before seeing the whiteboard during a meeting and making additions to the canvas. The ability to give everyone a chance to participate ensures the greatest number of ideas get heard during the meeting.
Learn more about Box
The Content Cloud provides solutions for businesses with connected Box Canvas whiteboard and other collaboration features. The easy-to-use platform allows for rapid flow of information, from designing concepts to completing a project.
Watch our Content Cloud Summit keynote to learn more
**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.