April 03, 2009, 12:16 PM — It's hard for me to think of business videoconferencing without imagining a vice president in front of his laptop wearing a shirt and tie but no pants. But IDC says 35 percent of all small and medium businesses will be using videoconferencing of some type this year. Dell's new Vostro laptops include Web cameras and software to make this happen. But do you believe one of three small businesses will really go Webcam happy?
I don't. I believe nine of ten Internet “modeling” agencies are big into Webcam sessions at $3.99 per minute, but not small businesses. I believe part of this conferencing conceit comes from idiot vice presidents who want to “look the opposition in the eye and see they're telling the truth.” Maybe that's why TV poker became so popular, as you can watch poker pros look into the eyes of their opponents, with tight framing highlighting every wrinkle and twitch.
Let's assume you could actually see small face details in a laptop Webcam session, the kind of details so important in the fun TV show “Lie to Me.” Didn't Bernie Madoff look some of the richest and supposedly smartest people in America in the eye and tell them he was honest and legal and their money was safe in his care? No videoconferencing, just face to face, and Bernie “Ponzi Scheme” Madoff scammed each and every one. Will small businesses with a Webcam have a better batting average than a large chunk of the caviar crowd?
I could be wrong. I believe I'm wrong rarely, but my wife says I'm wrong regularly, and she's pretty smart. If I'm wrong about videoconferencing in small businesses, let me know. Tell me how your small biz uses Webcams at work. Make my wife seem even smarter by listing your videoconferencing experiences in a comment.