Businesses rediscover power of face-to-face and turn to IT
An unexpected thing is happening in the corridors of businesses. 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 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 per cent 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 IT. Not to mention the fact that for a growing number of firms the concept of a single ‘workplace’ is increasingly outdated and irrelevant.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.
The answer, somewhat ironically, lies in technology. Video-conferencing capability, 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. 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 desk-top 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 per cent want to integrate video-conferencing with a unified communications platform that also includes things such as social media, instant messaging, email and other tools – reflecting 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 10 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.
We have joined forces with Wainhouse Research to guide firms through the options that exist, discover the potential of video-conferencing and learn from others who have made the journey before them. We’ve called it the Business Breakthrough Event. Companies will be able to move freely among vendors, resellers, industry analysts and firms such as Thomsons and Reuters. They’ll be able to listen to experts and ask questions and discover what’s right for them.
The world of business is changing but some things stay the same. Organisations of all sizes, sectors and in all locations are becoming flexible, mobile and geographically dispersed – trends that 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-effect. You have nothing to lose but your silos.
The Business Breakthrough Event takes place on Thursday 29 May at The Brewery, London, with a sister event taking place in Paris on 3 June.