It’s not an industry-specific thing. Video conferencing can provide business benefits no matter the industry. Retailers and financial institutions are employing video to interact with customers. Medical professionals are consulting with one another across distance. Manufacturers are addressing production issues more quickly and thoroughly.
Where the need for interaction exists, so does the potential for video conferencing to add value. Once upon a time, suggesting a meeting over video was folly. It was too complicated, expensive, and it required equipment housed in the hallowed halls of the executive wing (and maybe an IT guru).
Now it’s on my smartphone, tablet, and laptop. My kid can figure it out. Hurdles cleared. Check.
1. Reduce travel costs. Making video conferencing available up and down the org chart not only reduces travel, but it removes distance as an impediment to collaboration. Although I’ve decreased my personal business travel, I work with far more people outside of my primary work location than I ever have before. And our collaboration is more successful.
In 1982, the Australian group Men at Work reached the #1 spot on the Billboard music charts with a song titled “Who Can it Be Now?” The accompanying early MTV-era video proved to be extremely popular, portraying a visitor to an apartment peering through a keyhole. And it didn’t hurt that lead singer Colin Hay had a very interesting set of eyes to feature in the short. In case you haven’t seen this classic, check it out here:
Unfortunately, the very same paradigm hinders today’s customer-experience strategies. We invite customers to our businesses, and when they arrive we often ask the equivalent question: “Who are you?” This is still true in today’s contact centers, where customers are asked to self-identify through any number of authentication processes.
One of the problems we’re working to solve with Project Squared is to enable teams to work much more flexibly – any time, any place, any device. We believe that ad-hoc conferencing is a key part of this, which is why it features prominently in the application right now. I had a great experience – magical almost – with the app last week, and I wanted to share it with you.
A few developers, product managers, designers, and I were in a Squared Room, heatedly discussing the right user experience for a new feature we are considering adding to the app. The chat conversation was coming in bursts throughout the day. Around evening time in California, the discussion started up again. One of the participants was about to get in his car to drive home, so he took a gamble and hit the “call” button. It was actually quite late for me (I’m on the east coast), so I initially ignored the incoming invite, assuming others would as well. However, I saw that the call was still going on a few minutes later, so obviously something was going on. I was on my mobile, but figured I’d pop in and see what was happening. So, I clicked the join button.
When I joined, there was a heated discussion going. Four other folks were live in the call having an argument. The initiator of the call was still driving – thankfully his phone was lying down next to his seat and not in his hand! One of the others was outside a restaurant waiting to be seated. The other two were in a conference room in the office, working on some UX sketches on a whiteboard. We talked for about ten minutes, and actually made some good progress. The fellow in the restaurant reported a similar experience to mine – he initially ignored the request for the group call because he was at a restaurant. But seeing that the call was continuing, he jumped in to check it out.
Remember when moustaches were cool? For those who weren’t paying attention, it was back in the 1980s when Tom Selleck–sporting that signature facial hair–ruled the T.V. airwaves as private investigator Magnum, P.I. Most guys old enough to shave (or who thought they were) tried to proclaim their manliness with a Magnum-style moustache. We thought 128 kB of RAM and the 5 1/4″ floppy drives on our IBM XT personal computers were pretty neat, too.
The early 80s were also the last time many consumers thought that contact centers–or call centers, as they were known then–were cool. People appreciated being able to call businesses if they had a question about their bill or needed product information (remember, those were the Dark Ages before the internet). But as related in a noted white paper, contact centers soon became more about minimizing costs than providing exceptional customer care. And of course we started getting annoying telemarketing calls in the middle of dinner.
In the last couple of years, however, customer care has begun to swing back in favor of the customer.
Happy New Year! As I return from the holidays and begin the year ahead, I’m energized and excited about all the amazing accomplishments we achieved with WebEx in 2014. Many recollections come to mind that I’d like to share with you. And I have exciting news for 2015 — already! More on this in just a minute…
WebEx is really at the core of everyone’s work life. With over 60 million users and more than 1 million meetings a day, we really impact how people work and live. It was just a little over a year ago that I started leading the Cloud Collaboration Applications team at Cisco. When I started, I challenged the WebEx product team with a new goal to dramatically improve our already great web conferencing tool. A key element of this goal was a focus on simplicity. Making WebEx simple in addition to enhancing functionality was the target. Bottom line: It is our mission to delight every WebEx user and make their work life more productive.
The New WebEx
My team took this challenge to heart and made significant product changes in this direction. In October 2014, we launched the New WebEx that comes with a new clean intuitive interface, improved web landing pages that make it easier to join online meetings, much faster meeting load times, better video layout, and wideband VoIP audio for better audio quality. Read More »