A salesperson and client walk into a conference room. On the wall is a TV with Chromecast. The client switches the TV to Chromecast. The salesperson opens his Chromecast-enabled app, and instantly pairs with his tablet. The meeting starts, and the salesperson presents from his tablet. No wires, no fuss. It just works.

Chromecast-2015

People who run meetings and present are used to wires. HDMI and VGA, along with their adapters for their iPad or Mac. All to connect to a grainy, washed out, off-color projector. Wires have to be passed around between participants. Oftentimes the adapter is mistakenly left behind and needs to be repurchased.

Chromecast has the potential to change all this, and become THE replacement for cables in the conference room.

Opportunities

Chromecast is a $35, 2″ device made and sold by Google that simply plugs into an open HDMI port in your TV. It connects to your Wifi and is controlled by phones, tablets, and PCs. Most technologists think of Chromecast as the cheap HDMI dongle that lets people more easily stream Netflix and an increasingly long list of apps. After it launched only halfway through 2013, Chromecast became the #1 selling connected TV device within months and has stayed at the top since.

Challenges

But to-date Chromecast is of limited use in the office. There are three main reasons:

1. Corporate networks require additional setup

The Chromecast setup phase is challenging for most corporate networks years after its release. Laptops, phones and tables broadcast over a specific port to discover available Chromecasts, and they respond back to the broadcaster with “hey, I’m a Chromecast and look like this.” While this works really well on relatively open home networks, it breaks down on corporate networks that have locked-down configurations. Cisco has a lengthy technical note dedicated to how to overcome this with their gear, and it summarizes into the following steps:

    • Create a separate wireless network for Chromecast
    • Open UDP port 1900 and allow broadcast on 239.255.255.0
    • Disable peer-to-peer blocking

Without these steps, Chromecast cannot even complete the initial setup phase. And few IT admins will bother to go through these steps to allow the device to function on their network.

2. Business-focused Chromecast app support is limited

As a Chrome Mac user, I can cast (mirror) my desktop with some effort. But these are clunky if I simply want to present a deck I prepared. I want my presentation tool to natively support Chromecast.

Solutions

Guests are now welcome

First, let’s start with an earlier challenge that Google has solved. For guests (think: salespeople, customers) to use Chromecast before, the corporate network a.) must have allowed guests, and b.) those guests needed to be on the same network as the Chromecast so they could discover the device. This lead to a series of challenges that IT admins needed to solve.

Google solved that with a guest mode. Chromecast uses ultrasonic sound to determine if a user is in the same room as a Chromecast. Once that pairing happens, the user can control the Chromecast off their mobile/cellular or wifi network from their phone or tablet, without having to connect to the same wifi network at all.

Next, let’s move to the challenges that still exist:

Business-focused Chromecast app support is limited.

Google has a beachhead into this already. The Chromecast can cast any tab within Chrome, can cast the entire desktop (though this feature is still ‘experimental’), and can natively cast Google Drive/Google Docs documents. Immediately, this can overcome the vast bulk of objections of using Chromecast, albeit not very smoothly. Google can solve this further by taking the following steps:

    • Making screen mirroring extremely fluid, possibly with desktop extensions that don’t require Chrome and are braindead simple
    • Directly asking/providing incentives for enterprise software companies to add support for Chromecast into their business apps.

Gaps

This still leaves challenge #1: Corporate networks require additional setup as an issue for Google to address. It’s unclear whether Google has a strategy for this, or even cares to try to solve this problem. Historically, Google has not done a good job addressing enterprise needs in what they conceive as consumer products (see their awful support and limited enterprise-focused feature set in Android, as a case study). Moreover, it’s an incredibly hard problem to solve; enterprise networks are often very tightly locked down and often very different from each other.

chromecast ready to cast screen

It will be interesting to watch how Chromecast in the enterprise continues to evolve over the coming years (along with its closest competitors, Roku and AppleTV) and potentially directly participate in its evolution.

Click below to learn how implementing Interactive Content can make sales meetings even easier!