In VC Daily’s Future of Video Conferencing interview series we talk to leaders about how their industries use video conferencing today and how they’d like to see the technology evolve to support innovative business practices.
Tamara McCleary began her career as a registered nurse and later as a researcher in molecular physiology. As a scientist, she became curious about what drives our beliefs, behaviors, and decision-making. These interests eventually led her to the world of sales. While social media was still young, she saw its value as a tool for communication and for discovering and predicting trends. She is the founder and CEO of thulium.co, a global social media analytics and strategy company driving smart social.
VC Daily: How do you use video conferencing in your daily working and private life?
McCleary: My organization, thulium.co, is a global company, which means I have employees working remotely in order to serve a global clientele. I believe we are functioning like organizations will function in the future, with remote workers, flex scheduling, and even hiring those who prefer their own gig economy. Because we are not all physically in the office at the same time, we hold weekly team meetings using video conferencing.
There are many advantages to holding weekly touch-base calls on video, one of which is that you can see the team members whereas on an audio call you can’t see one another. There’s a level of authenticity and transparency that you get with video that you cannot have with just audio. And, when everyone’s on video they have to stay engaged and they can’t hit the mute button and start checking email (not that any one of us has ever done that before on a long conference call!).
VC Daily: Where does video calling fit alongside audio calls, emails, and messaging when you communicate within your company and with external clients?
McCleary: I don’t think every call warrants a video call, but I do think that meetings are more efficient when it’s a video call. Audio calls are great for getting back to someone quickly or jumping on a quick call to clarify an issue. Email is perfect for documentation and creating a thread to keep track of progress. Meetings with external clients have a more personalized touch when video calling is used–it’s as close as it gets to an in-person meeting.
VC Daily: You’ve been quoted as saying success in social media is about genuine human connection and engagement. How do organizations make genuine connections and humanize their messages through digital technologies?
McCleary: First, organizations can achieve a more genuine connection by engaging more and broadcasting less. Humanizing the messaging is getting clear on what your message is: what’s your why? You want to talk with and not to your target audience. Have a pulse on social media…be social. The brands with the best engagement have established the best thought leadership. Why? Because they demonstrate they care.
People want to follow people, not brands, so the more an organization can harness meaningful insights from capturing the right data, then they can engage in conversations with their target market. There is a scientific strategy in achieving connectedness and engagement, and science paired with the creative art of storytelling is the most potent marketing force on social media.
VC Daily: How could video conferencing contribute to, or improve, video marketing? What features would video calling need to adopt in order to make a contribution to video marketing?
McCleary: I think the ability to live stream and communicate person-to-person anywhere at any time will provide a lot of opportunities for video marketing. You are beginning to see this in the social media space with technologies like Facebook Live, Twitter Live, etc., but the ability to bring in an entire group of people into a live video stream that is shared via social would create a much more communal and interesting addition to current technology.
VC Daily: YouTube Live and Facebook Live have recently improved their revenue sharing offerings with their amateur online talent. What role can live streaming play in brand development?
McCleary: Live streaming is popular because we crave authenticity and we connect to imperfection (not perfection). Live streaming is in-the-moment and less scripted. The role live streaming has is in giving a human, authentic feel to the brand by showing that the brand is “real” and unafraid to go off-script.
VC Daily: You’re about to go on the road with BlueJean’s Think Forward tour on the future of the digital workplace. What’s the most common misconception employers have about what the digital workplace means?
McCleary: I think one common misperception is that the digital workplace is an IT issue. The IT department is critical; however, moving to a digital workplace is more of a people and culture buy-in issue than an IT issue. Work on culture and it’s far easier to transform the organization into a digital workplace.
VC Daily: How prevalent will telecommuting become in the near future? Do you think it is in a company’s interest to embrace remote employment and telecommuting?
McCleary: Full disclosure, I am biased. We have an entire workforce at Thulium that is telecommuting. Yes, this is the future. Companies are going to have to shift to remain competitive with the war on talent and the future of work. People are not necessarily more productive coming into a physical office. Employees who telecommute are often far more productive than those at the “office.” To hire and retain the best oftentimes means offering flex time, telecommuting, and contract work.
VC Daily: You’ve said that “tech first” thinking is incorrect, and that transforming a business or culture stems from relationships. How is that theory best applied in a digital workplace?
McCleary: It’s always people-first. Technology in service to people should be our priority. Our health, prosperity, and well-being are dependent upon our relationships, not the technology we have available at our fingertips. Our relationships can either make us or break us. Sales is a relationship, marketing is a relationship, HR is a relationship, customer service is a relationship, product development is a relationship. Relationships are everything. We cannot meet our business objectives without powerful relationships.
VC Daily: You’ve been described as a technology futurist. What emerging technology do you feel will have the most profound impact on our working lives in the near future?
McCleary: Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, (AI), machine learning, robotics, blockchain, augmented reality (AR), the Internet of Things, (IoT), and 3D printing are all technologies that are going to have a massive impact upon what work looks like in the future.
VC Daily: Video conferencing already offers us the opportunity for face-to-face conversation across any distance, but what is the next level of intimacy and immersion you can see coming for communication technologies?
McCleary: With 5G moving from dream to reality we will see augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality becoming far more advanced and practical to use in our everyday existence. I see the next wave of face-to-face communication at a distance being in an augmented reality application, and also with the use of holograph technology. For instance, I would no longer have to travel 22+ hours to get to Sydney, Australia to deliver a 45-minute keynote presentation, I could deliver my keynote as a holographic image from the stage, and participate in the event “face-to-face” through an augmented-type application from my home office in Colorado.
VC Daily: How can the Internet of Things and smart objects improve the way businesses market themselves and develop relationships with their clients?
McCleary: As a scientist-turned-marketer using analytics to achieve business growth for enterprise, I’m looking at the gorgeous ability of the Internet of Things to capture more intricate data sets to support us in creating a profoundly relevant and personalized marketing strategy in service to customers. Access to better data, posing the right questions of the data, gaining meaningful insights, and creating improved customer journeys and exquisite customer experiences are the ultimate marketer’s passion and mission. It just doesn’t get better than surprise and delight…it’s the marketer’s purpose.