From comic books of the 20’s through to films and television series of the 80’s, the ability to communicate by video has always been in our ‘vision of the future’. Despite video communications being around for years, we still haven’t quite realised the vision of video being ‘pervasive’ throughout out lives, but I believe that’s about to change.
Why is video so important? Ultimately, we are designed to communicate using all the facets of our bodies. Our brains are hard wired to pick up on subtleties like body language, posture and expression. While text-based and voice only communication tools have made it more convenient for us to communicate (and we certainly would not be without them), they do have many limitations. A lot can be lost in translation when you can’t see the person your communicating with and it can result in confusion, not to mention the importance of visual cues when developing relationships with people and garnering trust.
Granted, until recently, the experience with video communications has been pretty poor, but telepresence has changed that. Its simple to use, delivers a high-definition crystal clear picture with no perceivable latency and is based on standards, which means that more people can connect across different systems than ever before. With advances in video communication technologies, such as telepresence systems, it’s down to businesses to decide whether it’s prudent to spend money and resources on travel to and from face-to-face meetings or whether they should consider using video to get the job done more efficiently. With volatility in the price of oil, a need to boost productivity and aggressive environmental goals, it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly.
The simple fact remains that we communicate more effectively when we can see each other. We are more engaged, focused and accountable when we can be seen as well as heard. Video is a lot better than a faceless conference call where the majority of people on the call are surfing the web rather than focusing on the topic being discussed. It’s more effective than an email exchange where people are simply deferring an inevitable decision or trying to shirk responsibility. I’m not arguing that text-based communication has no role to play in business, it clearly does, but I believe that it will co-exist alongside video, which will become the default way of communicating that will save us time, money and make us more productive.