Second Life Falsely Touted as a “Business Tool”, Part I

In today’s global economy, it is not uncommon for individuals to be doing business across continents, time zones, and international borders. To help cut down on the monetary and time costs of traveling to these distant places, businesses have adopted a number of ways to interact using technology instead. Here are some popular examples.

Telepresence

Designed to mirror the feeling and atmosphere of a meeting conference room, telepresence rooms are the latest trend in mixing video conferencing with the subtleties involved with face to face meetings. Although expensive, telepresence technology allows a roomful of people in one location to view, speak and share documents with a roomful of people in another location. Although effective for large face-to-face meetings, both ends must have invested in one of the telepresence room technology for a call to work, and the calls must often be monitored and scheduled by a third party to ensure quality control.

Video Conferencing

More of a one-on-one video conferencing solution than telepresence, this includes Skype, iChat, Gchat Video, and all other online applications that allow for the use of webcams to connect with others. The often cost-free nature of these calls make them highly popular in many companies. Not only are conversations enhanced by allowing users to view and interpret facial expressions during conversations,  but as webcam and streaming technology keeps improving, the quality of these calls often need no third-party monitoring. If a call fails, usually one can simply reconnect at no cost.

Audio Conferencing

Allowing a large number of people to converse in an audio chat-room can be very powerful, as long as everyone isn’t trying to talk at once. This solution works best if there is a moderator for the call, and the audio conferencing service being used gives some individuals administrative privileges, such as muting all the lines, setting up a queue for questions, etc. Although you lose  facial expressions, voice inflection provides an value-add not experienced in the last company-wide email.

Email/IM

The old fail-safe. Having been used for decades, this is the most widely adopted technological way to communicate amongst businesses across the world.  Even if a company has refused to join the technological revolution and invest in any type of  upscale meeting technology, they will probably still have an email address. Although the loss of voice inflection and facial expression can often cause messages to be misinterpreted, you cannot deny the simplicity of it. When all else fails, send an email.

Check back soon for my next post, in which I will be comparing the use of Second Life as an alternative to the aforementioned communication solutions.

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~ by dparsonsmedia on April 5, 2010.

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