BlueJeans by Verizon, RingCentral and Zoom have made their virtual whiteboards more helpful to companies trying to improve collaboration with people outside corporate offices.
This week, the three companies introduced features that will make whiteboards available in more types of meetings and through additional devices. The capabilities allow more people to brainstorm through drawings, writing, images and videos.
Zoom has added whiteboard support to its Webinars product for events of up to 50,000 attendees. Session hosts and panelists can create and work together on the boards to help explain concepts to large audiences.
Zoom has launched other whiteboarding features as well. Microsoft Teams and Slack users can preview a Zoom board to determine if the content is relevant to them before opening it. Zoom meeting hosts can decide who can share a whiteboard during a meeting, while administrators can change who owns the board.
Later in the year, RingCentral will let conference-room meeting attendees use touchscreens to draw on its virtual whiteboard. The feature, which enters beta by the end of the quarter, will be available on hardware manufacturer Avocor's Collab Touch displays.
BlueJeans has given remote workers another way to access its whiteboard, called Collab Board. The feature is accessible through Meta's Portal devices, consumer-focused smart displays for video calling. With this capability, workers can use the hardware they might already have in their homes instead of a separate work device.
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred the adoption of virtual whiteboards among companies that needed a visual collaboration tool to accompany video conferences. The collaborative whiteboard software market hit $1.7 billion in 2021 and will grow to $4.4 billion by 2027, according to research firm Mordor Intelligence.
The tools save time by letting people use drawings to convey what would take a long message, phone conversation or video meeting to describe, J Arnold & Associates analyst Jon Arnold said.
"When you illustrate it in front of somebody, you don't have to explain it in text," he said.
Whiteboards have become a must-have feature for collaboration vendors, Metrigy analyst Irwin Lazar said. Zoom and BlueJeans launched their native whiteboards in April and last fall, respectively. RingCentral's whiteboard is in beta with the general release set for this year. Competitors Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex also have the feature.
Additional capabilities are needed as hybrid work takes hold, Arnold said. With some employees returning to the office, companies need a brainstorming tool accessible to workers using mobile phones, laptops at home or large touchscreens in a conference room.
"Because so much has to be virtual now, [whiteboarding] has to work across all the modes," Arnold said.
Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.