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The Dark Side of Video Meetings – What CXOs Can Do

A new survey identifies a disconnect between the benefits of video conversations and the unintended challenges it creates.

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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has seen increased adoption of video calls in nearly every area of life. But a new survey identified a strong disconnect between the benefits of video conversations and the unintended challenges it creates.

When considering the rise of video calls in recent months, employees revealed a mix of both frustration and appreciation for what video conversations have to offer. Distractions and not feeling heard during video conversations were seen as top issues, according to the survey which also indicated willingness amongst Indian consumers to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive improvements in their experiences.

The survey that polled over 3000 consumers across Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, UAE, US and Vietnam by Researchscape International and Zoho, said that over three- fourths (77%) of the respondents reported they spent significantly more time on video last year than in prior years.

In that sense, while video calls were seen as an engaging and productive medium, respondents cited feeling “exhausted” during video calls (32%). Being ‘camera-ready’ was also identified as a key issue: 30% of Indians dislike having to “get ready” for video calls and 27% of respondents don’t like seeing themselves on camera. And this despite participants admitted to doing a wide range of nonprofessional multitasking, personal tasks, and other projects during video calls, including web surfing, online shopping, and social media scanning and indulging in entertainment activities.

Lastly, respondents noted distractions were a challenge with video calls — nearly half (45%) of respondents felt others focus on their looks, 33% cited not feeling heard during video calls and 31% respondents found it difficult to understand if others were engaged or not.

“Since the start of the pandemic we’ve witnessed the widespread adoption of video conversations across personal and professional engagements. As the survey results revealed, there is still work to do to make virtual interactions as seamless and effective as in-person conversations,” said Umesh Sachdev, CEO and co-founder of Uniphore.

“There is a clear need for additional tools and capabilities to enhance higher degrees of people-to-people understanding. Through AI and automation technology, companies and business leaders can create better experiences for customers, pick up on nonverbal cues that they may have missed, and provide insights using data that is decipherable and actionable,” said Sachdev.

In February this year, a study on Zoom fatigue done by Stanford researchers exposed the psychological consequences of being on video calls for hours a day.

Professor Jeremy Bailenson, director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, makes some interesting observations on the reasons of fatigue caused by video calls.

“Videoconferencing is a good thing for remote communication, but just think about the medium – just because you can use video doesn’t mean you have to,” he said, adding that excess eye contact, social anxiety of public speaking and constantly seeing oneself ‘like a mirror’ add to the stressful experience.”

“In the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly – so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback – you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy,” he said, suggesting that there are options such as switching oneself off from the video occasionally as well as enhancing the video calling experience through human engagement and technology prowess to make the process more natural and enjoyable.

The Uniphore study too emphasizes on the second point and concludes that AI can improve meeting experience.

According to them, while video is being used today for many purposes, AI technology can make these video conversations more effective and enjoyable. Respondents also said they would like AI to help with notes when a person is paying attention or not (35%), resolve customer service issues (35%) and provide on-screen transcription (35%).

Needless to say, Uniphore has also turned its focus on video AI after acquiring two companies – Emotion Research Labs and Jacada – earlier this year. The company is looking to further leverage video and emotion AI capabilities along with low code automation tools to improve customer experiences.

Through the use of AI and machine learning, companies can enhance communication by adding the ability to better understand engagement levels and emotions of participants, and ultimately drive better business results, it said.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com