“I see you” – a phrase most recently made famous in the film Avatar, where the Na’vi tribe use the phrase as a greeting, with a deeper meaning, where the ‘see’ implies a connection with other person. The word ‘see’ is a curious one in the English language. We can ‘see‘ things, but I can also ‘see‘ what you mean. I get it. I’ve understood it.
In so much of the communication that happens in business we don’t get to see. We email, make phone calls, text, Tweet, Yammer and IM. All of these platforms loose the visual aspects of communication. Yes, they are using the written word, which is visual, but a few dozen characters doesn’t even begin to cover the facial expressions, physical posture, environmental surroundings, and all the other things that go towards providing contextual information. That information enhances and clarifies the communication.
We recently built an internal global video sharing platform for one of our clients. As it rolled out, I was struck by the power of video. It has an amazing ability to convey stories, bring remote events and locations to life, and place employees, or customers, at the front of people’s minds. It transports people to remote locations, in a matter of seconds, without them even having to move their eyeballs.
Last week I spent some time with the folks at brother, getting a view of their OmniJoin platform and products. It fulfils many of the functions of tools like Webex, but what struck me was its ability to deliver multi-party video conferencing, putting the faces of people from around the world on to multiple screens and enabling them to talk as if there were in the same room. While more and more laptops have webcams built-in, there really is something to be said for using a decent external speaker, microphone and high quality camera, so it was nice to see that brother include those in their portfolio. Sadly, the built-in mics and the webcams on most laptops leave a lot to be desired, although they are better in recent models.
equipment that used to cost hundreds of thousand of dollars/pounds (if not millions!) now costs just hundreds. The Internet has already proven that it can deliver voice and video, and social platforms like Facebook and Google+ have embraced them, so why are businesses not making more use of these technologies?
Yes, corporate networks used to be a challenge, but with falling bandwidth costs and better network infrastructures, that is less and less of an issue. The video sharing platform I mentioned earlier is delivering video streams to thousands of people across dozens of countries, using the corporate network infrastructure. A few minutes of streaming video uses less bandwidth than most of the photo-laden PowerPoint attachments that seem to arrive in my inbox these days.
It’s not just about real-time communications. Most mobile phones can now shoot High Definition video (in the case of the Nokia Pureview 808 I used recently, it can be like having a professional movie camera in your hands – see this video). So, businesses can’t say that they haven’t got the equipment. Similarly, video editing software that used to cost the same price as a high-end racing car now comes bundled free, putting professional video editing technology within reach. Of course it still takes time and skill to put even a short video clip together, but spontaneous video, either shot-as-live, or in a video conference, takes no longer to produce than the non-visual equivalent.
If you’ve been working with social media for any period of time you’ll know the importance of having a good photograph in your blog posts and Google+ updates. The world in turning visual. Check out the success of sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and a whole cohort of image-driven content platforms. People want images, and it’s no surprise when you realise that roughly two-thirds of the human brain is dedicated to processing visual information. Given that a fair portion of the rest is focused on keeping us alive (breathing, heart, and so on), that doesn’t leave a lot to deal with listening to that voice mail message you just left, or focusing on that (usually torturous) conference call.
Can you see how video could transform your communications? Get your message across more clearly, reduce miscommunication, engage people. Think about investing in video conferencing, and building so video-driving communication channels. It’s all about moving people from saying “I don’t get it” to saying “I see”.