It’s hard to believe that in October of 1971 -- 46 years ago -- email was first introduced to the world via ARPANET, the military communications tool that evolved into the Internet. The first entries in the world of Internet Service Protocols (ISPs) began in 1995, offering users automatic email addresses. The “big 3” were CompuServe, AOL and Prodigy. Carter Moore, a former Federal employee speaking about the Web and email, noted in Quora, “…somewhere between 1996 and 2001, Internet usage went from being a relative rarity to normalized…. And while it's not a direct 1:1, I feel like it's reasonable to assume that email popularity tracked with Internet usage.”
Communicating via email became de rigueur in the business world, from intra-office announcements to marketing tools for both business and consumer audiences. What are the statistics today? It’s estimated by the Radicati Group that there are over 6.3 billion email accounts worldwide. In January of 2017, writer Mike McEvoy penned an article outlining email statistics for a company called Web Presence Solutions. McEvoy noted that a source called Statista, in 2016, projected the number of e-mail users worldwide to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019. So it sounds as if email is here to stay. Or is it? Most likely yes, but it will change. Embedded video, or video email, enabling video email communications, is growing. Microsoft is one of the companies leading the charge.
Let’s Get Down to Business…and Chat
On November 2, 2016, Kirk Koenigsbauer, the corporate vice-president of Microsoft, announced the arrival of Microsoft Teams for Microsoft 365 Enterprise or Business users. It integrated Microsoft Office suite with a cloud- and mobile-based chat tool to give businesses a better way to get organized and collaborate. On March 14, 2017, Microsoft Teams was rolled out to Office 365 users worldwide. What does Microsoft Teams offer small and large businesses that traditional text email doesn’t? Are there any competitors to challenge the Teams model? And how can a company’s Human Resources people aid a transition to chat-based workplaces?
Microsoft, Slack & HipChat : Real Team Challenges
According to Microsoft, Teams is “an entirely new experience that brings together people, conversations and content—along with the tools that teams need—so they can easily collaborate to achieve more.” The system can handle VOIP, IM-ing and teleconferencing, as Skype for Business® is built into the Team setup. This sounds perfect, but there are problems, ranging from the maximum number of Team members allowed per meeting to guests not being able to join Teams. Microsoft does have stiff competition in the movement towards video email communications, notably Slack and Atlassian’s HipChat. All offer the same thing – the ability to give teams a place to work on projects, with information at each users’ fingertips. Let’s look at the nature of emails and what’s happening.
Video Email Communications: What Is, What Shall BePinpointe noted sending out video email communications have already benefitted companies with email-based marketing efforts. In a 2014 survey by Flimp Media, 82% of the companies found video emails effective. Video email communications regularly net ROIs that are nearly triple of what static emails can garner. Previously, the method used was to provide a hyperlink or include a video as an attachment. That becomes unwieldy. Video size will often necessitate use of a file hosting system like Dropbox. There are companies offering embedding services, such as Benchmark and Campaign Monitor, that work with organizations doing email-based marketing. What’s the next step? It’s the one that Microsoft Teams, Slack and HipChat have already begun – video for all.
Human Resources to the Rescue
HR pros have already seen the benefits of using EGC (Employee Generated Content) as both an intra-company and external marketing and communications tool. Something HR definitely needs to consider is that 55% of human communications is transmitted non-verbally. That includes facial expressions, gestures, posture and tone of voice. To see a team member shudder when a new gambit is proposed is far more telling than a polite “I will give this idea some thought” text email response. Visual cues simply say more…as exemplified by the Forrester Research observation that 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. So what can Human Resources do to usher in the newest entree in communications?
- Compare the prices for Microsoft Teams, Slack and HipChat
- Compare the prices for connectors such as MailChimp and ConvertKit
- Start small…send out some of the EGC to staff
- Create a video email announcing the use of embedded video email
Every technological breakthrough will have issues in early incarnations. The use of video email communications as a work tool still has snags, but it improves the business world’s communications efforts.