Younger execs swapping phones for webcams: Cisco survey

If you’re an executive of the old guard, you may be using the phone to conference call your team – but for the next generation of business executives, the webcam is their collaboration weapon of choice.

In a global survey of more than 1,300 respondents aged 34 and under, researchers for Cisco Systems Inc. found an increasing number of young executives want to make more use of video conferencing at work. About 60 per cent of young executives polled said they would be using business-to-business video conferencing within the next five to 10 years.

A solid 94 per cent said they felt video conferencing would help break down language barriers between employees, customers, and suppliers, while 87 per cent of young executives were confident video conferencing had positive effects on business. They said they felt employees were able to save money on travel costs, and hiring managers were better able to attract talent to their workforce.

And as many young executives are perceived to be more tech-savvy, 87 per cent added they felt they might even choose to work for an organization that counted video conferencing among its tools in the workplace. In the survey, respondents indicated they took that to be a sign of a company using technology to “fuel business growth.”

Video conferencing is seeing a resurgence everywhere, says Yohai West, product marketing manager with NICE Systems, formerly Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering Systems. The software solutions company is headquartered in Israel. NICE has just launched a service for recording video conferencing calls, providing companies with the ability to monitor calls, evaluate their agents’ performance, and use videos to train new employees.

West’s own team, made up of five or six people, regularly uses Skype to communicate, especially as one of his team members lives abroad, he says.

“It does make a difference. Really, the person on the phone, you know, you get to a point where you’re like, are you still there? Are you still on the line?” he says. “Having that visual connection and you see the person’s attention … For our intimate group, it’s just so simple.”

Still, the jump to video conferencing isn’t limited to executives interacting with their employees, West adds.

While NICE used to offer a phone recording service for companies looking to record their phone conversations, especially in customer service interactions, West says NICE is now offering the same service for video recording because his company anticipates customer demand.

While video conferencing in customer relationship management is still in its early stages, large financial institutions are already adopting it, West says. Right now, the Bank of America and Citibank are already making a push towards video conferencing so bank tellers can be available to customers 24/7, he adds, so NICE is building upon that.

It may be too early to predict how much video conferencing can help boost a business’ customer interactions, but West says he fully expects video conferencing to continue growing as people like interacting with others face-to-face – even if that’s through a screen.

Businesses only have to look at customer-facing video conferencing to see how that plays out, he adds.

“It pretty much comes down to the concept of the customer now has the power to communicate,” he says. “And video is part of everything we do now, and customers are looking for that as a way to communicate with service providers … It’s a little more personal, and that’s what customers are really looking for.”

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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