I was recently in a web conference that included a physical meeting room with some 5-6 people in it whilst others in the meeting were connected to WebEx. Whilst no issues technically, the mix of physical and virtual, in my opinion just wasn’t effective. Now, normally in a 100% WebEx meeting there is an indication of identity and who is speaking. It is a great attempt to visualise physical meetings. Nothing new there, it has been around for ages and as a platform is brilliant.
However, when a meeting room dials in and is shared between multiple people in a room, the physical to virtual is completely lost. Yes you can see the room speaking, but identities are not prevalent and this is a problem, especially if you are not familiar with the personnel at the other end.
This leads me to believe that we are in a transition. I believe that transitions are short periods of time that help us evolve to better methods of achieving or goal. They also have their ups and downs until we get through it. Do you remember the compact disc? That was a transition. It was a transition to where we are now with streaming media. It was supposed to be more durable than vinyl with crystal clear clarity in digital form. It delivered that, but in a short period, it has been superceded by music downloads and of course the mp3 player that not only offer the supberb quality in sound and vision, but also the simplicity to obtaining content.
Obviously every transition will have a start and an end. In this case the start is a physical meeting. Traditional in every sense, but now as we embrace and extend globalisation and boundaryless enterprises our colleagues and more importantly the knowledge pools are being pull together from far-flung places across the globe. Technology has allowed us to do this, but we don’t always get it right. Admittedly the physical meeting is king, but productivity can still soar using multiparty voice and the combination of both. I think we’ve proved that as we continue to increase the usage of online conferences.
The goal however, is to emulate the physical meeting as much as possible and that’s where video has to be the answer…for now. Not just any video but high-definition real-time video. It is here today, but the usage is minor compared to voice and I think that is just a matter of time before video overtakes voice on the network as it becomes more affordable and the quality increases.
So, I have to keep reminding myself, not to dismiss what we have today, embrace it and accept that the transition to video is almost here.