Attitudes on Video Need to Change
We know video conferencing makes sense. We know it can be more efficient than travel and more robust than audio-only or text-based communications. But despite the obvious benefits, many remain resistant to it. It’s time to let go of the past and face your colleagues.
I understand that when the red light goes on that some people behave differently. They become self-conscience and think more about their actions. There’s a sense of violation that doesn’t occur with phone calls. It doesn’t feel normal. Get over it, and make it normal.
I get all kinds of excuses: “I don’t have a camera,” “I just got up,” “I didn’t do my makeup.” Why settle for compromised communications when video is available? We create our future, and according to every science fiction show and film, the future includes pervasive, seamless visual communications. It’s time to make the future the present.
There is no excuse. Gone are the intimidating remotes. It’s easy to see and hear each other, and even share the desktop screen. The cost has fallen and the equipment no longer requires a big upfront capital commitment. The technology (cost and access) is no longer the battle. The barrier is the emotional attachment to the past. Gosh, I just love my buggy whip.
It was recently reported that revenue of worldwide enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence equipment dropped more than 13 percent year-over-year, and almost 22 percent quarter-over-quarter. Something is wrong here considering the vast majority of organizations aren’t using video.
Video conferencing has been on the radar for much longer than most technologies, and over the years the cost, time, and pain associated with travel have all increased. The concern of environmental responsibility and stewardship have also increased. Telecommuting became acceptable and cool, and bandwidth got broader. The cost of gas continues to go up, and the cost of hardware continues to drop.
The world has flattened as companies increasingly leverage skills from distributed global teams. Smartphones today are everywhere, each supports HD two way video communications. Every laptop has a camera. Still, with all of this we have not seen the growth in video we predicted decades ago. Video communications remain the exception to the norm.
To this day I regularly find people (even in in high tech) who almost refuse to engage in video calls unless absolutely forced to do so. They are turning a blind eye to the obvious benefits of seeing someone live, reading someone’s body language, and being able to sustain someone’s attention (unlike on a conference call), or just nurturing distant relationships in ways voice calls and emails cannot.
I’ve made the transition. I consistently attempt to do video-first. It took some time and had to be forced, but now I prefer it. When I Skype call, I press “Video Call” before pressing “Call.” When I set up a meeting, I send out a link to a video bridge by default. When I get invited to an audio-bridge, it’s like going back in time.
I prefer smiles over smileys. I find that watching is a natural complement to listening just as I prefer movies to radio dramas. I know a few others that have also made the transition, and together we are like former smokers who disdainfully look down upon our old way (audio-only communications). Together we wait and hope that someday our colleagues will get it.
I’ve always blamed slow adoption on the technology, but now realize it’s the users. Change is a bitch, and there’s nothing wrong with this fine shell. So it is up to the next generation, the Trumans, who were born with the camera on. These people are always on - or off - one can’t tell as the camera changes nothing. Oddly, the camera being off reveals more about one’s age than the camera being on.
One day video will be the default, and there’s nothing - repeat nothing - preventing that day from being today. But realistically it’s a generation away. Yes, there’s plenty of room for technology improvement, but its time for market/user demand to pull the technology rather than be dragged by it.