Saturday, January 2, 2010

Seeing is believing

We at Avistar take it for granted that video is an essential component of Unified Communications because we experience the power of video every day. Our jobs would be significantly more challenging if everyone in the organization wasn't on video all the time. Similarly, senior executives with our customers tell us that Avistar is the most important technology on their desktops. These are people who use Avistar more than 2 hours a day, and for whom Avistar has become a mission critical tool.

For video to become a key tool in accelerating the adoption of Unified Communications, it is critical that we translate our own experiences into a crisp value proposition for video.

Luckily, there exists a fair amount of science and research to help us out. As it turns out, humans happen to be very visual animals. A very large percentage of our brain is dedicated to visual processing, which allows people to pick up very easily on visual cues. Combine this with the fact that there are roughly 7,000 unique human facial expressions that are common across cultures and languages (as described by John Cleese in a book and video called The Human Face), and this means that facial expressions and body language carry an order of magnitude more "content" than words only.

So, how do we turn this knowledge into a value proposition for video? Research suggests there are three areas where the richness of video makes a huge difference:
  • When people receive information visually (as opposed to through audio or text) they absorb it better (Wharton study suggests 40% increase of information), they are less confused, and they remember it longer (Harvard/Columbia study suggests 38% increase in retention)
  • For people transmitting the information, visual communication is really the only way for getting their personality across, which is critical for establishing credibility, to instill confidence, and to create trust.
  • And finally, during interactive conversations, visual communication provides the feedback channel that is critical in selling, negotiation and training situations where you constantly need to gauge the reaction of your audience.

Based on these high-level observations, it becomes easier to define the value proposition of video in the context of a variety of application scenarios. I'll follow-up on this in a later post.

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