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Web, Video and Audio Conferencing

Business Rediscovers Power of Face-to-Face… Via IT

An unexpected thing is happening in the corridors of business. Passionate advocates of the transformational power of IT are starting to wonder if, just maybe, all those amazing productivity and communication tools such as email, social media, instant messaging and collaborative content-sharing platforms, have overlooked something important. Something that helps to accelerate performance and productivity in an increasingly mobile and flexible working landscape: the simple act of being able to have a direct conversation with another human being you can actually see.

Studies show that customer response rates, sales and loyalty rise and remote workers feel more engaged when they can have a visual conversation. Better decisions are made, and they are made faster, because more information can be conveyed more clearly face-to-face. Misunderstandings are quickly identified and addressed.

This is hardly surprising when you consider that between 65% and 90% of communication is estimated to be non-verbal, conveyed by body language and tone, with words accounting for less than a third. But travel budgets and workloads being what they are, it is unlikely that many of the daily conversations that need to take place will suddenly start to take place in person rather than over an ICT system. Not to mention the fact that for a growing number of firms the concept of a single ‘workplace’ is increasingly outdated and irrelevant. 

A business is likely to be spread across several locations – if not countries – and include people’s homes and public places. Indeed, 44% of medium to large business workers work from locations other than the company headquarters, either from a branch office, from home, or on the road, thanks to the wide variety of devices and services available. This is a trend which will not be slowing any time soon. People now expect their communication tools to be as diverse at home as in the workplace, while also enjoying the additional benefit of being up-to-date with the latest devices.

 

The answer, somewhat ironically, lies in technology. Video-conferencing, particularly the kind that can connect people on any device, wherever they are, is rapidly moving to the top of the shopping list for IT. Business video-conferencing has been around for a while, but it has tended to rely on fixed, office-based facilities, that left people in other locations or away from the office disconnected. Mobile and desktop video-conferencing addresses this, freeing people to talk to each other wherever and whenever.

New global research by Wainhouse Research reveals that three quarters of organisations are planning to introduce a mobile video-conferencing solution in 2014 and 61% want to integrate video-conferencing with a unified communications platform that also includes social media, instant messaging, email and other tools. This reflects the seamless, multi-channel way employees instinctively want to communicate and collaborate.

Multi-channel video-conferencing means your sales professionals on the road will be able to talk directly to your manufacturing team on the shop floor; the CEO can talk directly to the boardroom from his hotel in the Far East; and an international product development team can hold a lively discussion from desks stretching from Manila to Milan to Mexico. The opportunities for business productivity are immense.  Yet the same study found that six in ten firms will struggle to reap the benefits of video-conferencing as they are overwhelmed by the number of options available.  This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The world of business is changing but some things stay the same.  Organisations of all sizes, across sectors and in all locations are becoming flexible, mobile and geographically dispersed. These trends are accelerated and amplified by technology. But the power of personal contact and conversation remains undiminished. Video-conferencing lets you reap all the benefits of this in a way that is easy and cost-effective. You have nothing to lose but your silos.

 

Wayne Mason is 2014 Business Breakthrough event director and head of group products and marketing at Imago Group

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Wayne Mason

Wayne Mason is 2014 Business Breakthrough event director and head of group products and marketing at Imago Group

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