In an article in this morning’s NY Times about the President’s meeting with bankers yesterday (“Putting Obama On Hold”) the article closes with this line about the unfortunate absence from the meeting of three of the big bank CEOs: “There’s an expression that many bankers already know…when people need to be reminded of the importance of getting on a plane and seeing a client: ‘You can’t fax a handshake.'”
Yet clearly attitudes have changed with the availability of communications technologies regarding the role of frequent in-person contact. More than ever, through asynchronous communications (like the GovLoop community) which build rich profiles of participants, or real-time “synchronous” communications, like a webconference, one can learn alot about their business partners and distant colleagues without a physical meeting.
If you’ve ever been part of a telepresence meeting, you’ve had a glimpse of just how much “reality” that a sim-physical presence — through some of the newer, rich media communications technologies — is able to provide. This area will keep growing, with a company that is local to my Austin headquarters — Lifesize Communications, a maker of lower-cost telepresence solutions — recently being acquired Logitech for nearly half a billion dollars.
Yet, there clearly remains a place for “real” physical contact with business partners, colleagues, co-workers, and others. In fact, I wrote about the range of physical to virtual contact and the potential physiological importance of the human connection last month in my post “Adventures in Reality” – in particular, the writing of Aric Sigman.
Have you become more discriminating with your in-person contacts? Are face-to-face meetings and events more important than ever? How do you make decisions differently about attendance than you did in the past? What do you feel you have lost (if anything) in an era of lower in-person contact?