Back in the 1960s, communications theorist Marshall McLuhan asked us to consider the notion that “the medium is the message.” Today, many companies have made video communications the medium. What does that say about the message?
I began thinking about this question as executive leadership at the company I work for began delivering video missives during the pandemic. No matter the content, good or bad, delivering a message via video comes across as more personal and heartfelt than it does in other mediums. An executive’s ability to convey a sense of “we’re all in this together” is much easier to do with a visual backdrop of a living space-turned-home office than in the harsh black and white of email text.
I was reminded of this during a virtual conference our sister event brand, Enterprise Connect
, held last week for enterprise IT decision-makers involved in formulating their organizations’ communications and collaboration strategies. The idea of using video in this manner — asynchronously (versus the synchronous experience of a real-time video meeting) — came up during a couple of different sessions as something enterprise organizations should be considering for the future, if they’re not already doing so.
At JPMorgan Chase, whose videoconferencing strategy I showcased in last week’s post, “Democratized Video: How JPMC Built a Collaborative Culture
,” Gene Pitts, an executive director, said he intends to spend a lot of time this year investigating the ins and outs of adding support for asynchronous video communications. While JPMC has a robust video library, Pitts said what he’d really like to do is open the opportunity not only to create but also distribute video to “the populace, so everybody could author video content and distribute video content.”
Pitts likened the use of video in this manner to “TikTok or Snapchat for the enterprise” and said he sees its potential as an email displacer. Employees should get to the point where they think, “Why write this email when I can record a quick video and send that out?” he said. An executive might send a video message to the workforce at large, a manager to director reports, or any one person to anybody else — and with the video message would come emotional context that would be lost in email, he added.
Marty Parker, principal of UniComm Consulting and frequent contributor to our sister site, No Jitter
, likewise sees high potential for the use of asynchronous video within the enterprise. He shared his thoughts during an opening summit at the conference, asking people to “twist their brain” and think about the future of video being messaging-centric rather than about real-time synchronicity. “Imagine that having a meeting no longer means all the people have to come together,” Parker said.
Rather, a “meeting” host would post a video discussion of their points in a workflow environment such as Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace, and then everybody else could watch and share comments. “You don’t have to have a meeting by everybody coming together, which is not always the most productive use of time,” Parker said.
While Pitts and Parker were speaking to an enterprise IT crowd, their ideas should resonate with HR as well, I would imagine. Certainly, as shown in the company example I shared above, HR has already seen value, especially during trying times, of using video as the preferred medium for delivering executive guidance. With its promise of delivering emotional context, asynchronous video communications is a good technology on which HR and IT can team up on to get in front of employees, not only to improve the employee experience but, to Parker’s point, give a boost to productivity.