We are now on the ugly side of the 2010’s.
The methods we use to communicate with each other no longer tell a tale of the urgency, priority, or formality of the message we are trying to share – and I use ‘message’ in this instance as a blanket to mean communication. This is true in business as it is in our day-to-day personal connections, and as a society, we’re confused. The human aspect out of most forms of communication – familiar or formal, has been lost. This is one of the reasons we decided to become Zoom experts – to bring back the personal touch to the way we do business, even if that business is entirely online.
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Around the early 1990’s, every method of communication had its purpose, and the method we chose to reach out to someone would determine its urgency. This was true for both Business and Personal connections.
(Snail) Mail – Almost entirely formal and important, yet the expectation for reply or acknowledgement was at least 1 working week. Bills, contracts, test results, just to name a few.
Phone Call – Mostly somewhat formal and urgent; the prominence of mobile devices still meant that messages were taken, and you wouldn’t typically wouldn’t expect a callback that day unless it was an emergency.
Telegram – Dying out at this time, but sat somewhere between the above two in terms of formality and urgency.
Pager – The primary way to say this is important, call me back as soon as you’re near a payphone. You might page your spouse, parent, colleague or boss, but not a client or a supplier. There was no such thing as Cold-paging.
Email – Other than the best way to spam your friend’s inboxes (at: firstname.lastname@example.org) with funny forwards, cat pictures or chain mail, some businesses adopted email campaigns early, which proved fruitful for technology and automotive companies in particular. They were able to sell their innovative products to consumers they already knew to be ‘early adopters’ of technology, proven from the fact that they had an email address in 1994. Shortly afterwards, Nigerian Princes found themselves reaching out for help online rather than by Snail Mail, and we turned to canned meat for inspiration, when we needed a word for digital forms of windshield flyers.
Face to Face – The be-all and end-all of communication, period.
At this time, nothing could compare to being in the same room, making a new connection at a networking event, seeing your newborn relatives, or making a sales call – warm or cold alike. Partnerships and relationships are built face to face, and usually, so are memories. The ‘in person’ interview was the next step after the phone discussion in a job recruitment process, and it still to this day the only way to deliver bad news, when physically (geographically) possible.
Why become Zoom experts?
So in the age of FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Hardware-based Video Conferencing, Convention roadshows & Snapchat (more on that one later!), why would we pick something that didn’t really fit in any box?
It isn’t exactly an Application, and it’s an entirely different implementation to hardware-based VC solutions we have been installing for over a decade. The mobile app is top-notch, and it definitely blows FaceTime/Hangouts/Skype/Facebook Video calling/all the rest out of the water.
With Microsoft bundling and cramming that chat software platform down our throats, why wouldn’t we just go with what was already included?
Not that it matters – Zoom now connects with Lync/Skype for Business anyway.
Why weren’t we using the very same hardware VC systems we were installing for our clients to communicate with one another?
I answer this all in Part 2: Why Zoom wins.
Honourable Mention: Faxcimile
I’m surprised the red squiggly line didn’t pop up when I attempted that word.
Faxes were a great middle-ground for not-really-urgent-but-I-guess-somewhat-important messages for Business-to-Business ideas and not-really-important-at-all personal communication. In fact, you were either a small business owner or an ‘early adopter’ if you bothered owning one in your home when they became affordable to the consumer market (around the introduction of the 28.8kbps consumer modem in 1994).
I remember sending a Fax to Burke’s Backyard from my Dad’s home office somewhere in the mid-to-late 90’s for a recipe I saw on the show and wanted my mother to make; they replied (via fax) with the recipe a day or two later.
The Microsoft platform who mustn’t be named comes with branding that is like that shop in the bad location that changes hands every six months that you wished would succeed, but are too hesitant to go inside yourself and check it out.
MS Messenger –> Communicator –> Office Communicator –> ??? –> Lync Chat –> Lync Messenger –> Skype for Business, for those following along at home.