Having been offline on vacation, during which I spend a fair amount of time travelling, I got thinking...a dangerous thing I know.
Working with regional teams remains a big part of life for many businesses in Bangkok and across Thailand. With that comes the challenge of collaboration and communication.
There is, from time to time, a physical need to communicate face-to-face, which necessitates traveling. Regardless of cost, there is disruption to schedules whether it be meeting colleagues in destinations as far afield as North America, Europe or in neighboring Asian and Southeast Asian countries, or even just upcountry where a few hours journeying each way can suck up time.
What are the other options?
Though most of us enjoy the chance to go abroad on business, telephone conference calls are the inexpensive option for regular communication, while some companies push the boat out with video conferencing and other virtual meetings.
There are lesser known options, one of which brings together Thailand's famous love of games and avatars with a business communications service.
I came across Claus Nehmzow, a Hong Kong-based, German entrepreneur, when I interviewed him early last year. His vision of 3D avatar-based communication stuck with me as innovative and, yet, also well ahead of its time in many parts of Southeast Asia.
That said now, more than a year later, with Thailand's social media community growing impressively--to the point where Facebook membership is close to half of the country's Internet penetration rate--with emerging smartphone and tablet computing markets, perhaps, Nehmzow's forward-thinking model might find traction in Thailand?
The basic outline of the product range and consulting Nehmzow provides is, The Sims meets online business conference. Users log in, as they'd do in an online meeting, at a specific link where they are placed into the 3D conference area represented by their own self-styled avatar.
In the 3D world, meetings run using visual materials including slides, videos and other interesting effects, but it is in the application where Nehmzow's suite of 3D solutions comes into its own.
During a talk at Hong Kong's TedXPearlRiver, Nehmzow goes through a number of usage. For example, how individuals battling poor diets and weight gain were able to carry out practical tasks, such as picking from a lunch menu or choosing shopping to implement the teachings of presentations they'd taken in through their avatars. The video of the talk is here, and well worth watching.
While this example is somewhat abstract for many businesses, it does provide a clear example of the potential 3D meeting spaces offers to those seeking an innovative alternative, or indeed additional complementary platform to the dreaded conference call.
More details can be found at the newly opened 3D Avatar School Web site or the Webpage of Alcus, Nehmzow's consultancy.