You need to see this

Technologies such as video conferencing are enabling us to communicate much better with internal team members, external contacts and our clients, but few accountants are using them. So what are you waiting for?

For the first time in history we can interact face-to-face remotely. Let that sink in for a moment. Distance is now a nonissue. We can see and hear each other and pick up on the nuances of body language as if we were in the same physical location without being anywhere near one another. The fact is that we are in the midst of a communication evolution that is being driven by consumers and is fast making its way to forward-thinking companies and organizations. This is a big deal because it’s transforming the way we work as well as the way we live. Interacting live is typically the best way to communicate and, thanks to technology, we can do that from anywhere with words, photos and video — providing we are brave enough to reveal ourselves to others.

Many of us have the opportunity to participate in video-conferenced meetings. We can go to a dedicated location where we interact via a conference phone, video camera and display screens. We can hear each other, see each other and share each other’s computer screens. However, few of us are courageous enough to deploy this revealing technology at work outside of these dedicated rooms.

We have cameras built into our notebooks, webcams on our desktops and cameras in our smart devices, which are with us almost everywhere we go. In fact, today’s smart devices have two cameras: one to capture and transfer what you see and one to capture and transfer your body language. These cameras provide resolutions so well-defined that the images are as clear as if the recipient of those images were seeing them in person. Samsung’s ad campaign for its newly released smartphone is aptly titled “You need to see this” and features a woman videoing herself as well as a celebration in front of her. The person on the other end of the line can see not only the caller and her body language and reaction to the event, but also what she is seeing as she’s seeing it. This is huge.

It’s even more amazing when you consider the first digital camera in a phone hit the market in Japan in 2000. One of the first business-class camera phones, the BlackBerry Curve, hit the market in 2007. Talk about a quick uptake. Can you imagine a mobile phone today without the capability of taking photos or shooting video?

Consider how much more powerful and efficient it is for an auditor to take a photograph or video of physical inventory on-site, rather than writing down that he or she was there and saw X. Imagine taking a screenshot with a screen-capture application such as Snipping Tool, included free with Windows 7 and 8, and pasting it into an email or another document. Just as it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, a good screenshot or a picture of your screen taken with your camera is worth its weight in gold.

So what are you waiting for? Technology is enabling us to communicate much better with internal team members, external contacts and our clients, but few accountants are using it. The only way to start using these new capabilities is to just do it. Today’s BYOD (bring your own device) smartphones and tablets allow you to add pictures or incorporate video into your formal documentation. Be brave, be transparent, learn as you go and correct along the way.

These are powerful tools that we need to use in business, just as we are already using them in our personal lives. Some people argue that technology is hindering our connection to others and, in so doing, our ability to build relationships. I think nothing could be further from the truth.