Two weeks ago, an innocent-looking tweet by Roger Farnsworth (@highcq) sent me on an amazing journey. As soon as I clicked on the link to a post on the corporate blog of FlyMiwok, an on-demand air travel company, I was pulled into an amazing time-machine, sending me back to the mid 90s in a flash.
Now don’t get me wrong – I remember the mid 90s well. I was already working in the tech industry at that time. So I was not shocked by the way people looked or what was around me, but the things I heard… Oh, the things I heard. I couldn’t help but smile, and think about how much have changed in last 10+ years. I’ve collected some bits so that you too can enjoy yourself.
- Personal communication tools are great in one-to-one situations and will yield quite some savings there. The same cannot be said for meetings where a dozen or more people from 6 different locations attend.
If they only knew, huh? In today’s working environment connecting dozen or more people from six (or more…) different locations is a common practice in many multi-national organizations. It’s hard to imagine how we would get any work done without our weekly multi-site video conferences, especially when it comes to global projects. As I’ve already written here, video calling is great for peer-to-peer, but priceless when dealing with many-to-many.
- One issue very high on everyone’s list: Cut Office cost. [...] Telecommuting has been encouraged, offices have been downsized. [...] chances are people are not just in two offices. There’s always someone participating from home or a hotel room, while another person is in an airport with no Wi-Fi access, but lots of background noise instead. In situations like these, audio conferences via telephone is the lowest common denominator.
No WiFi access? In an airport?! Sounds strange, I know, but in the 21st century the kind gods of communications have given us mobile networks to connect us to the almighty Internet. These people will be amazed when they see sales people, executives and even “us commoners” making video calls using their mobile handset via 3G, either peer-to-peer or on a conference. We will be sitting in an airport lounge or connecting to a video conference using our desktop client. That’s the beauty of it but that’s also the challenge in what we do. Using the collaborative infrastructure we offer today, people can connect using video, from anywhere, using any means of communication. Forget lowest common denominator – we want a high definition experience!
- Video conferencing technology has become much easier to use, even while traveling, but the quality can be quite low. Have you ever hosted a teleconference in the U.S, where people from different continents attended at the same time, some from home, some from the office, some while they were traveling? [...] the results are typically nothing to write home about.
Low quality? On the contrary: as resolutions are getting higher and higher, as bitrates are growing rapidly, and as processor technologies advance significantly, the quality of experience in video conferences is getting better and better, from high definition to “higher” definition and beyond. Using SCOPIA Desktop you can connect in high definition from home. With the SCOPIA VC240 you can connect in high definition from your office desk. Yes, in some cases, network conditions and other problems may harm the experience, but using new technologies, like our SVC solution, you can enjoy a great experience even if your infrastructure is problematic. So don’t bother writing home, just call… using video.
- Most importantly, [...]certain things can only be achieved by personally meeting your customers.
Yes, even I can admit that. But what portion of business air travel is indeed face-to-face communication? Most of the types of meetings we are holding, most of the types of meetings we are traveling to, are the types that will definitely benefit from video conferencing, if we would only allow ourselves to stop thinking like mid-90s people and start acting rationally.
[...] you should not fool yourself that technology will replace the necessity to travel. It will not.
It will certainly will not, I told the people around me. You will indeed travel – travel for a vacation, travel to visit family and friends, travel for a 1-on-1 meeting to close the deal you’ve been working on for ages. But travel on a regular basis to visit your different organization locations? Travel to customers or partners for work meetings? Travel to share ideas, brainstorm, collaborate? No, we don’t do it in the 21st century. Technology does replace the necessity to travel in that case.
And just as I was saying that, the most shocking thing happened: my eyes were fixed on the date, which I have not seen until that moment. July 21, 2009. Oh my god! This is the present. Was all of this a bad dream?
I quickly closed my browser tab and went back to work. I have a video conference with our New Hampshire team in 5 minutes…