The possibility of being able to see the person you’re talking with while on the phone is not new – it’s literally been decades since the first commercial services have tried to deliver on that promise.
What is new, however, is multipoint video conferencing that is affordable, portable and well-integrated with systems and processes already in use (e.g., computers and web conferencing). But now that it’s so widely available, we need the skills to use it effectively.
To better understand what’s necessary for successful video conferencing, 1080 Group conducted a global survey of nearly 1,200 professionals that focused largely on the “how” (for example, “What are people doing right that we can mimic?” and “What are video conferencing users doing wrong that we can avoid?”). As a complement to the survey, here are a few thoughts on the “why” behind the results.
There’s more to video conferencing than saving money
It’s easy to posit: Video conferencing “saves costs of travel” for your organization. Out of eight different values, cutting travel expenses was ranked second.
The winner, interestingly, was that video conferencing “allows us to show something that is not easily shown from a computer screen.”
The take-away message: Saving money is important, but productivity is our top concern.
Your mileage may vary
Curious about how survey respondents were experiencing value, we dug deeper. What we uncovered were statistically different opinions about where value is derived. For instance, Europeans were much more likely to appreciate being able to communicate more frequently than their global peers were. In some cases the differences varied by industry, such as financial services’ inclination towards being green.
Message: The value of video conferencing depends on your own communication or organization needs.
Not everyone gets it
When we investigated what prevents organizations from using video conferencing, we discovered that the biggest challenges were largely people-based. “Inability or unwillingness to use new technology” and “entrenchment of the current way we do things” took the top two spots by a wide margin.
Perhaps of interest, “expense that is difficult to justify” came in dead last. For many this isn’t a surprise, but it’s an important reminder that the bottom line does not drive everyone in an organization.
Message: Capitalizing on new value-creating opportunities in your organization may have a cultural element.
Personal leadership is critical
Finally, a number of insights pointed to the experiential nature of meeting and collaborating virtually. Sadly, some people disparage the communication medium because they see someone else use it unsuccessfully. By analogy, this is like saying, “PowerPoint is bad,” instead of, “Some people use PowerPoint poorly.”
When we compared how video conferencing leaders (those who initiate and lead video conferences) say they perform against how attendees rate those leaders, we noticed some differences. The main gripe for attendees was that leaders “have distracting mannerisms or gestures.”
Message: Turn your leaders into good examples for others to learn from.
The bottom line
The expected growth for video conferencing use is staggering – our survey respondents anticipate 211 percent in the next year. Interestingly, even those respondents who already categorize themselves as active video conference users expect 63 percent growth, a strong testament that they believe there’s untapped potential.
The good news for all: While meeting and collaborating via video conferencing might be different, it’s not hard. The question for many organizations may be “Are we going to lead, follow or get trampled on?” as this momentous shift occurs.