The Changing Landscape of Business Communications
By Alexander Ban, 2nd Place Winner in the Fall 2019 Wheelhouse Essay Contest
Like a grapevine supported by a stout tree, the growth of business relies heavily on the advancement of technology, with the strongest branches being the innovation of new methods of communication. From pen and paper, to telegraphic messages, to today’s cellular and digital messages, each progression serves to optimize and streamline the process of inter and intracompany communication.
With the advent of the internet, professional communication became much faster, with most messages being sent by email. However, email did not completely replace the landline,, which was necessary whenever immediate response was necessary. In this modern age, landlines are sorely outdated. Most domestic landlines have been removed due to the convenience and benefits of a personal smartphone. It should stand that companies would want to follow this trend as well, due to the close nature between technology and business. One way businesses are adapting to modern communication is the usage of VoiP software. Programs like the one Wheelhouse offers are efficient package deals designed to make communication as easy and fast as possible for companies looking to modernize. This software includes options like mobile applications for smartphone compatibility, easy integration with other software, and call conferencing, recording, and forwarding which allows communication to be practical and intuitive to avoid wasting time on communication.
The unspoken question then is “where does communication technology go from here?” What’s the next step in business communication? Already businesses are utilizing VoiP systems and digital communication in their efforts to stay up to date. I believe that as we move into the 2020 decade, businesses will move towards more sophisticated virtual communication. Technology has already mastered the audial aspects of communication, now I think that development is shifting towards incorporating the visual portions.
Currently, tech companies, mostly entertainment-focused, have been innovating with Virtual Reality simulators. Devices like the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive have made into reality what seemed in the past like a Science Fiction dream. As this technology advances, and gets smaller and more resource friendly (the current VR models take an entire room of equipment to run!) I could see businesses adapting the usage of virtual reality for communication purposes. For example, an architectural presentation on prospective buildings would be much more informative if those involved could walk through a three-dimensional mockup of the building.
Imagine how engaging online conferences would be if everyone appeared to be in the same location, regardless of distance. Studies show that interpersonal communication is more effective when more “personal.” I.E. face to face is more effective than over the phone and email is the least effective form of communication. This could be due to the fact that person to person communication relies heavily on body language and tone as well as simply words. While video communication using such programs as Skype does partially solve that problem, virtual reality is the closest modern technology has come in portraying in person conversation over a long distance. Think of it as a frame vs a sculpture. When looking at a framed picture, the only perspective you see is that which the author wants you to see. You are locked into viewing from a specific angle, and so might miss out on key details in what you’re viewing. A statue on the other hand allows you to view the full object from any angle, seeing it as it truly is. So too will VR help in improving the clarity of communication.
I do not believe virtual reality will replace other forms of communication. Even with today’s instant messaging and conference calls there’s still a place for email and phone calls. No form of communication is perfect, and even with technological improvements VR has its flaws. For example, emails are much faster to send than a VR session is to set up. I think that VR will simply open up a new avenue of communication, which covers bases missed by current communication techniques.
Landlines, I believe, are going the way of the telegram. When first introduced to the world of business, they were revolutionary. A way to talk to people not in the room in real time was a huge step up. The astounding progression in technology has all but made them an outdated relic, with smartphones and VoIP software possessing all the capabilities of landlines and more. While I believe that phones will be a staple of communication practices for a long time to come, I feel that landlines will soon become a thing of the past.
In the end, technology is going to continue to press forward, at an ever increasing rate. Businesses will adapt to these changes as they have before, and I predict that the future of technology holds the death of the landline and the acceptance and incorporation of virtual reality.