Today video-conferencing systems are still being used in a rather traditional way. Now Helleo aims to broaden the scope of video communications by cutting speaker waiting time to a minimum.
In late 2012, the Munich-based Fraunhofer Institute carried out a survey on the use of video as a means of communication between colleagues. The results revealed that 81% of those polled saw email and telephone as the communication channels which were most divisive and obstructive when it comes to decision-making in the workplace. By contrast, three out of four people felt that when decisions were taken during video-conferencing sessions they tended to be coherent and unified. This idea inspired Montpellier-based Tixeo to develop their Helleo solution, designed to foster easy communication between colleagues and team members. It works through a video communication tool which is embedded into and functions via their web browser, without the need for any plugins. The members of the designated group are shown on a section of the computer screen in the form of ‘blurry’ bubbles.
All the user has to do is to click or touch one or several of the bubbles. The bubble(s) then become clear images of the other group members and the user can begin or join a conversation with an individual or several colleagues. “In its conception, Helleo is quite close to an intercom system,” points out Tixeo CEO Renaud Ghia, adding: “The system also enables you to know at any given moment whether or not a colleague is available.” However, this easy communication method is not without its drawbacks. It might well be seen as intrusive and uncomfortable for co-workers, given that once your browser is open you can be contacted at any time. Renaud Ghia recognises therefore that “this tool is not suited to everyone. Some organisations will not be able to adjust their working setup to be able to use it.”
Are firms ready for this approach?
Consultant Claude Super believes that the whole question of how to manage this kind of communication system within a company needs to be raised. “We see that today in France, software such as Skype is still being used in a very conventional way. Being called upon to respond instantly at any time may well pose problems,” he toldL'Atelier, stressing that: “Just receiving an email can obstruct or even cut right through the thought process.” Companies will therefore have to come up with a way of minimising the intrusive aspect of this kind of video-conferencing. “Employees receive no preparation for working in this way and are just not used to it,” pointed out Claude Super, concluding: “In my opinion, organisations will need to formulate guidelines for using this software, and to set very precise boundaries right from the start. Otherwise I’m afraid this kind of solution simply won’t work.”