Social, Visual, Mobile, Virtual: Ready or Not, These Four Mega Trends Will Affect Your Business Part Two: Visual

Social, Visual, Mobile, and Virtual:  I refer to these as Mega Trends because they are (1) happening on a grand scale, (2) affecting business owners and executives whether they choose to do anything about them or not, and (3) they are changing the world as we know it. Moreover, while these Mega Trends are enabled by technology, they are more representative of the grander transformation that is happening as a result.

Ready or not, these Mega Trends are here; as a small business owner, what are you doing in the face of them? This article is the second in a series that focuses on the four Mega Trends in more detail, and discusses the options available to small business owners and professionals building a career alongside them.

The VISUAL Mega Trend

Visual has been the primary and preferred method of communication for our species (in fact, for most sight-species) throughout history.  Even when we had no pictures, or words, to communicate, we would see each other and make inferences based upon what we’d seen, learning from one another.

This is the power of VISUAL. We are primally wired for visual stimulus. In fact, we’re so wired for visual that we can even trick our own bodies into knowing what it feels like to do something we’ve never done by leveraging visualization techniques. For instance, you could close your eyes and imagine yourself holding a ceramic mug full of steaming hot cocoa, or reaching into a dryer to retrieve warm fluffy towels; just by envisioning yourself performing those actions, you can trick your body temperature into rising a little.

Reading about or hearing about an event is never as compelling as seeing it. Take the viral video of the Occupy Protesters at UC Berkley being sprayed with pepper gas – would it have impacted us as much if we hadn’t seen the footage? (I think not).

In case you doubt how powerful visual interaction is, think about how much we long for it when we can’t have it (for instance, when a loved one is deployed overseas). Consider those interactions that are simply not possible without being able to see (would you want a doctor performing surgery on you with a blindfold on?). Our visual sense connects us, enabling us to learn from each other. Visual stimulus transcends generational gaps. We have an innate desire to share what we’ve seen.

Technology facilitates all of our visual needs. The pervasiveness of the Internet combined with affordable video gear like webcams, camera phones, and the countless number of devices we can consume and create content with, as well as the rapid growth and propagation of YouTube (quick stats that will blow your mind:  did you know that YouTube streams more than four billion videos DAILY?  And that 72 hours of footage is uploaded every minute?). If that doesn’t indicate accelerating acceptance, I don’t know what does. All of this demand to enjoy more and more visual interaction: leveraging these technologies is going to quadruple IP traffic on the Internet by 2014.

Why should we care?

Besides the fact that video makes a huge impact on the Internet and our internal network (both from a bandwidth demand and a performance sensitivity), which of course we have to be ready for, we should focus on the heightened impact that making things visual can have on our businesses.  More and more customers will expect to interact with your business and its people in a visual way. We’ve begun to embrace this ourselves, in fact, in that we are beginning to leverage video conferencing in our call center with clients who have a desire to have that heightened sense of personal contact.

While any marketing department will tell you how important it is to consider quality visuals in eliciting a response from an audience, in each of our businesses we should ask ourselves if appealing to our innate desire to see things is something we can leverage in accelerating or differentiating any initiative.  It doesn’t require million dollar video conferencing systems or studio quality video production to leverage the power of visual stimulus to make a positive impact on your business.

Consider the next time you have to document a process for future use.  Might it be even more effective to create a video of that process?  Think about a time when you’ve sent an employee to physically see something at a client location.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more compelling is a video?  Seeing is believing, and with the decreasing cost and increasing ease by which video can make a difference in even just one business process, it won’t be long before you become a believer yourself – hopefully before a competitor does.


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