Guest Blog: Rob Bamforth - Principal Analyst, Business Communications, Quocirca Ltd
In the fourth in our series of blogs on video adoption, we look at what is the purpose behind a meeting? In the last decade, network bandwidth has grown, video has become high definition and smart low-cost desktop and mobile devices have become commonplace, which means most companies now have some form of video conferencing capabilities.
It has been pretty obvious since the outset that a primary benefit of video conferencing is being able to attend meetings without needing to travel, and thus saving time and money. This also came through as the number one benefit in Quocirca research of existing video conferencing users. However, scratch below the surface and the reality is not as simple as moving a meeting location from the real world to a screen.
The overall problems many organisations face are the meetings themselves; there are too many, involve too many people, take too long and often the resulting outcome is….another meeting. The key value of meetings is often obscured. The idea is not to get together, but to collectively get something done.
The purpose behind a meeting is what is most important, and there are many specific types of meetings that could probably benefit from the use of video to bring in remote participants, but all too often, an old-fashioned view of video conferencing permeates many organisations. Video is seen as great for board meetings (i.e. senior execs) and large multi-country team meetings, but is often perceived as either too hard to book or access (or just too exclusive) for more specific line of business needs.
These regular business needs are important and could include meetings for one-on-one purposes related to HR and management - recruitment, coaching, appraisals - or for small groups for training or project updates. They might also be vertical market specific, where again the purpose is not to ‘meet’, but to perform a specific task. In healthcare, this could be remote consultations with a specialist or video enhanced monitoring to avoid unnecessary patient movements, or in legal processes to avoid the movement of either vulnerable witnesses or dangerous individuals to a physical place for interview.
The important point in each case is not simply that travel has been avoided, but that a business purpose was accomplished more efficiently and effectively, by avoiding delay, allowing ad hoc scheduling or making the process less risky.
This echoes research conducted by Quocirca a decade ago, when video conferencing was less widely used, which highlighted an interesting difference between the anticipated benefits on those yet to adopt video conferencing and those already using it. Those yet to adopt thought only of travel savings, those already using recognised that improved productivity was the main benefit.
As long as sufficient video endpoints are available for access, and can be booked or used by any employee, then almost any type of ‘face to face’ remote encounter could make effective use of video. Avoiding travel should not be the determining factor; getting successful business outcomes faster and with less effort, however, should.
Few organisations would be able to eliminate meetings altogether, but streamlining the process of finding a suitable date and time, making arrangements, having the meeting and then arriving at the desired outcome will appeal to both individuals and the organisation. Greater availability and adoption of video for a multitude of business purposes and not ‘just meetings’ will broaden its value and increase user familiarity, acceptance and confidence.
In case you missed the earlier blogs in this series, they are available here:
Positive behaviour and technology adoption
Conversations, not conferences - informal, not scheduled