High-Definition Matters—and will Increase in Importance

Simply put, visual quality matters.

When most little girls get birthday money, they want to run to the store and spend it on clothes, toys, dolls, or jewelry. Breaking from the norm as usual, my daughter decided to spend a large chunk of her 10th birthday money on Wrestlemania, a pay-per-view event broadcast live from Phoenix and attended by 75,000 people.

Why does this matter to the IT and business folks reading this? Because when given the choice of buying the standard version for $55 or the high-definition version at $65, she didn’t hesitate in making her choice of the latter. “Watching standard is like watching a You Tube video,” she said, defending her decision.

This got me thinking. High-definition viewing was worth 10% of her birthday money. Would you spend 10% of what you make in a year on a high-definition event?

Simply put, visual quality matters.

When today’s kids are in the workforce, high-definition video will be a thing of the past. Most likely, they’ll be using hologram telepresence (3-D televisions already are available). But for now, people are becoming more and more accustomed to high-definition everything.

Companies that have not upgraded to high-definition video conferencing likely will see their internal customer satisfaction of video conferencing declining. Sure, the older systems still may be challenging to set up. But the more important factor is the visual quality just isn’t what people want or expect based on their consumer purchases.

I have worked with several companies who noticed a spike in the adoption of video conferencing after upgrading to high-definition screens. The video conferences are more crisp, and the people look more “real.” In reality, though, individual expectations are rising, and any visual quality less than what they have grown accustomed to at home translates into a poor experience overall.

In fact, some companies have resorted to full, internal marketing efforts to convince people to “come back” to video conferencing. After poor video-quality experiences in the ‘90s and even early 2000s, employees at one large utility had little interest in using the technology again. When the marketing efforts kicked in and employees gave video conferencing another chance, adoption soared to the point where the IT staff had to secure funding for additional rooms. The big feedback was that the quality was life-like.

Nearly three-quarters of companies are doing something with video conferencing, but many continue to use non-HD equipment. By improving the experience for employees, you’ll see some hard-dollar savings in travel costs, as well as improved collaboration and productivity among employees.

Viewing the Undertaker, Edge, or John Cena in high-definition (for those of you who understand this whole “Wrestlemania” thing) is key for wrestling fans. Likewise, easily picking up facial cues from a customer or colleague during an important call is key to company success.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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