VC: The virtual meeting market continues to grow – with pros and cons

Editor’s Note: Investor and Entrepreneur David Gardner is the Founder of Co-founders’ capital in Cary and regularly contributes to WRAL TechWire.

CARRIE – Face-to-face meetings are back on the rise, but that doesn’t seem to dramatically reduce the number of virtual meetings.

From a market gap of $ 3.85 billion in 2019, reaching $ 7.87 billion in 2020, it looks like virtual meeting space will retain the vast majority of its gains in 2021 and is expected to maintain a CAGR of 11.45% until 2026..

Virtual meeting space is a quintessential example of the innovation hype cycle that shows how the impact of paradigm-shifting technologies is typically overestimated for the first five years, then underestimated over the next five years. following.

I remember how normal it was for most of my career to fly and travel all day just to attend a single hour-long meeting, even though I had technology available to me. virtual meeting. The idea of ​​doing this today strikes me as barbaric.

Critics of virtual meetings have argued that the modality promotes a significant reduction in engagement, productivity, learning outcomes, etc. versus face-to-face meetings. I remember reading a virtual learning report around 2009 that showed that 90% of e-learning students didn’t even have the presenter window open for the majority of the class.

Over time, however, the minimum viable products evolve into complete products. When this study was done, very few laptops and computers had video cameras or synchronous user engagement tools, which I think dramatically improved participant engagement. We also have a higher tolerance today for participant multitasking. Granted, I often only give my full attention to the parts of a virtual meeting that require my full attention.

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The collaboration use case is one where I think a face-to-face experience still significantly outperforms virtual modalities. One of my startups in 2008 was designing virtual meeting environments.

I watched dozens of hours of video from people in interactive meetings. Something I have noticed is that during a quick and interactive exchange of ideas, it is normal for two or more participants to start talking at the same time. When this happens in a face-to-face meeting, listeners tend to ‘vote with their noses’, that is, they will look at the person they most want to hear as if to say they vote for this speaker to have the floor. Other simultaneous speakers see the majority of listeners turning their attention to another speaker and they instinctively give up and wait to speak. This can happen several times a minute and these visual directional signals act like the lubricant that keeps all of those moving parts moving. In the absence of these directional signals, virtual collaborators tend to talk to each other or communicate in a much less effective serial fashion.

Adopting virtual meeting technology has many wonderful benefits. It allows us to meet more efficiently, more often, and at a lower cost, but it’s still not the optimal tool for collaborative team meetings.

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