Interactive whiteboards are emerging as a growing niche opportunity for South African IT resellers as schools, businesses and public sector agencies shift towards digital content and communication. These solutions can offer more flexibility for – and enhance the level of interaction and engagement in – meetings and training sessions.

Charl van den Berg, Samsung product manager at Tarsus Distribution, says that some local organisations are starting to move away from clumsy paper flipcharts and traditional whiteboards to interactive whiteboards with touchscreen displays to streamline collaboration and more easily capture ideas and data shared at meetings and conferences.

With newer market entrants such as Samsung beginning to offer enterprise-grade interactive flipcharts and whiteboards at lower prices than incumbent vendors, this market is likely to see steady growth in the years to come, he adds. “Adoption of e-learning, the rise of the digital classroom and a shift from analogue to digital communication are all driving significant interest in these products,” says van den Berg.

According to a report from Research and Markets, the global interactive whiteboard market is forecast to grow from $4,3-billion in 2018 to $5,2-billion by 2023. “What makes these products so interesting is the way they bridge existing behaviours and the digital world,” says van den Berg.

“They enable people to jot notes, draw graphs and organograms, and create mind maps on a digital display, rather than writing on a traditional flipchart or whiteboard with a marker. Then, they can save presentations, annotations, notes, and visualisations as a digital file that can be easily shared with everyone who needs access to the materials.”

Another benefit of interactive whiteboards is that some models allow remote users to collaborate live in the digital whiteboard space from an Internet connection, even if they are not physically present in the same conference or meeting room. Many products also enable people who aren’t able to draw or write neatly to pre-load certain graphics and text, then add to the information using either a stylus or a finger.

“Everyone who has presented on a flipchart has experienced the problem of running out of space and then needing to write in tiny script to fit all the group’s thoughts on the page,” says van den Berg. “This problem disappears when you’re using an interactive whiteboard. Visual quality is also great, with products that support full HD and 4K resolution.”

Interactive whiteboards also offer a layer of security since users can save their files rather than forgetting to erase their top-secret plans from a whiteboard or to remove paper from the flipchart before leaving the room. Their touch interfaces are as intuitive to use as the smartphones people depend on in their day-to-day lives.

“With interactive whiteboards, people can view data at a glance, exchange information on the fly and capture insights and ideas in a digital record,” van den Berg says. “They bring brainstorms and meetings into the 21st century, giving everyone in the organisation the ability to collaborate and connect.”