Business drives the world and no business happens without meetings. For business meetings, one would often spend a whole day to meet their prospective clients, in another part of town wading traffic and sometimes different cities and even jet-setting across countries. Whether a small business or big giant corporations, most deals and business closures still happen over physical meetings, where people have to travel long distances. To fulfill this endeavor, most of the traffic we see on roads is either because of people going to their workplaces or traveling for business meetings. But its time, we change that for better, and quite frankly we don’t need physical meetings anymore for business and we will see why!
For the past two decades since Skype came out in 2003, we didn’t need to meet people to close business. Everyone has internet today and has access to video and voice calls over the phone and most serious businessmen have laptops or desktops, yet meeting in person has been the preferred choice of the business community around the world. Let us analyze why?
- You can access and read the body language.
- It feels more personal to form associations.
- To see and experience the whole persona of a person in 3D.
- We are used to it and its a habit and socially acceptable practice.
- Loss of productivity: People traveling for meetings often have to put aside other tasks and spend their whole day’s productivity on just one task.
- Traffic on the road
- Pollution affects not just humans but all life-forms on the planet.
- Accidents on road
- Damage to road infrastructure
- Cost of transportation.
There has been a smart minority of people who are environment conscious, who have successfully utilized the technology of video-conferencing, digital signatures, etc. to successfully close businesses. It not uncommon to conduct interviews for candidates for their firm over Skype/ zoom/Hangout. This helps them to save time, money, and resources too.
Since most of our clients were NRI’s getting married in India, we almost never had to do the whole circus of meeting them personally. Yet with a clear online presence, communication over emails, phone, and Skype we could close deals. However the most resistance that we faced was from the people locally in Mumbai. Couples and their families would always request meetings at their homes, often spending our entire day’s time to meet them at the comfort of their homes/offices. Despite having an office, most clients preferred meeting at their homes. These were also the clients who weren’t ready to discuss things on call. Their philosophy was to meet and access people personally and also to pressure businesses in striking a good deal. For someone who spent an entire day to meet a client, he would be desperate to make it count and close business. We strongly believe that everything that can be done in a physical meeting could be done online. Also, the times that we did go to meet clients at their home, they have been hardly fruitful. The futile experiences have been with people who don’t understand art and just skim through your work superficially and finally come to striking a deal for the price. It never worked for us and we don’t think it will for anyone who thinks they deserve the price they ask for.
Fast-forward to COVID-19 situation, where everyone is locked down, lots of businesses are now conducting business meetings online through Zoom/Skype to close business. From real state companies to startups many have taken advantage of the situation and successfully closed business without any physical meetings saving time and energy. Mr. Nimish Desai, Director of Satellite group, a prominent builder closed the sale of 9 flats during the lockdown. Smita Vyas Kumar, founder of MyTree App closed business with 3 big societies in Mumbai. Her app helps people connect with home chefs in small communities like Housing societies. Further validation came when we interacted with few professionals from various spheres, who are now able to close sales from the comfort of their homes and reach people and form new connections that were previously either difficult to reach or just unreachable. Due to COVID-19, more and more businesses are coming online with e-stores, YouTube videos, and webinars. They have also utilized the time to spread their reach through webinars and increasing their social presence.
The education sector across the world has recently started using technology to their advantage by conducting classes through web conferencing. Colleges like BITS Pilani and IITs have used this to their advantage and provided classes from teachers on campus to another. Similarly these web-conferences have been helpful to let students reach out to alumni for further education and opportunities.
Govts and Politicians don’t need to meet either
Extending the same paradigm shift our politicians and Govts across the world can save a lot of public money and their own time by saying no to physical meetings and using e-solutions to meetings like web-conferencing etc. Whole parliament sessions can be conducted online with minutes getting documented on the cloud. Countries can create their own cloud infrastructure for privacy and conduct and deliberate on all matters electronically. New custom solutions can be built in far lesser money than the current operating costs of parliaments. Indian govt is currently planning to spend to upgrade Central secretariat which will include the parliament building at an initial project estimate of Rs 20,000 crore which is staggering and such utter wastage of taxpayer money and when purpose and the end results of such a massive endeavor can be achieved with digital solutions for far less.
Head of states conducting foreign travel and creating huge security risk and wasting thousands of crores of rupees annually around the world can avoid these visits and discuss country affairs quickly through web conferencing. Most problems between different countries can be quickly resolved, if our politicians really mean to by engaging in dialogue and seminars online. Kashmir issue is said to have been resolved if only Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru had lived a few more days till the meeting between India and Pakistan in June 1964. He however died on 27 May, 1964. If only they could conduct web conferences and resolve world issues then.
We however can surely do that in today’s time and our govt needs to move away from these personal physical meetings and put the money to better public use. It also saves the environment and creates less pollution. We wouldn’t be wrong in saying world pollution can be significantly reduced if only we moved towards online meetings for all businesses.
Citing our own example, our 6 years of commitment to close sales digitally has helped us to be prepared for COVID-19. With all our work available online through our own websites hosted on cloud using services like Smugmug, AWS, and Youtube and Instagram we don’t need to rely on physical meetings. Long story short, there is no need, absolutely no need to spend time and energy on physical business meetings, COVID-19 has just shown us that.
What do you think?