The art of meetings has come a long way. It all started – seemingly almost in Neanderthal times – with two people standing, or sitting, face-to-face to talk. It progressed to people from different places sitting down together in a boardroom to people in different places talking on a conference call at the same time. Now the visual element has been introduced – and it is being introduced on a grand scale.
So says Nicolette Kruger, country manager of NFS Technology, the hospitality-focused software development company, and purveyors of a market-leading video conferencing solution.
“What’s happening now –and what is seen as the pinnacle of this ongoing ‘meeting evolution’- is that the latest technology is taking those people in different places in a conference call, and adding video through their computers – so they can both see and hear each other.
“This used to be a huge cost – and there were also questions about transmission quality. But both these issues have been addressed. Quality has improved in leaps and bounds –and costs are coming down. This opens up a whole new market,” says Kruger.
She says video conferencing is like a “rich man’s Skype”.
“Skype is great because you can hear and see the person you are talking to –and at a lower cost than normal calls. But the quality is still a bit dicey. Meeting via conference calls is also great – because you can hear the tone in the voices of all the people participating. But you cannot see them….and this is where video is so vital.
“Sometimes a person’s voice can actually hide his demeanour, mood and attitude. But add video and you open a whole new dimension. It’s literally down to that old saying: ‘a picture paints a thousand words’.”
Kruger says for larger companies it also cuts “massive amounts” of car and airplane travel costs where companies have multi-branches – especially for conglomerates with offices scattered around the globe.
“It is the way of the future. Of that there is no doubt. Over the next five years or so the amount of airline business travel could literally be halved.”