Components of a conversation: collate, collaborate, comprehend and decode

If you had to choose between meeting a colleague over Zoom, or over a latte at your favorite coffee shop, the probability is pretty high you’d choose the latter, assuming it was safe to do so

While Zoom meetings are quicker and easier to stack sequentially throughout the day, there is value in the nuances of live conversation. Physical gestures, facial expressions and tonality are by nature more clearly conveyed in-person.

Recent studies projected that given the intangible value companies draw from work conversations, up to 75% of collaborations will be recorded and analyzed by 2025. To harness the value of workplace conversation, technology is becoming more capable when it comes to comprehending and decoding digitally facilitated human interaction.

Velocity and the exponential void

Efficiency and scalability have been the hallmarks of collaborative technology in recent years, especially as businesses scrambled to operate in a remote landscape. No longer having to even walk down the hallway to the conference room, professionals have been able to double or triple their daily meeting loads. But at what cost?

With volume and speed defining how we collaborate, much is lost in terms of context. The experiential component of conversation tells us as much about an interaction than the words spoken. A shrug, a furrowed brow, a quizzical tone – all provide human elements that add to a collaboration. In-person interaction also solidifies communication more effectively, making the content of a meeting more easily recalled. In an age when it’s said humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish (yes, really), locking in important points is critical to avoiding message degradation over time. Likewise, comprehension suffers in a blur of jam packed huddles. Anyone who’s gotten to the end of a meeting-heavy day, breathed a sigh of exhaustion and thought, what did we even talk about? understands this.

Harnessing factual and experiential

Recordings and transcripts are useful tools to some degree, but the ability to capture a factual summary does little to inform complex understanding and action steps. Corporations can easily rack up thousands of hours of conversations over the course of a month; the challenge is logging them in such a way that they can be referenced quickly and efficiently. Most office communication tools can record, but those conversations, and the key data held within them, often end up sitting in multiple siloed platforms. Even if they are accessed, a professional likely needs to rewatch a video, or replay an audio file, using fast-forward and rewind functions to find the data they need, slowing down operations overall.

Conversational technology that allows for a single repository, with a unified system of records, will be the game-changer when it comes to harnessing the value of these conversations. By capturing topical information and the experiential factors used to deliver that information – tonality, facial expressions and the like – that data increases exponentially in value. Storing it in an easily accessible reference system then takes it a step further, turning disorganized resources into actionable tools.

Decoding for purpose

It’s been reported that time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has increased by 50% or more in recent years, further accelerated by the remote workforce of the pandemic. Within each one of those collaborations are highlights; key points that feed post-meeting action items for the group. The newest conversation technology enables teams to capture these vital snippets, flagging them by timestamp or importance for easy reference. By archiving only the details needed to move forward with next steps, information gathered can be streamlined.

From a human resources perspective, for example, this could mean flagging candidate interviews if a response differs from one given in a previous meeting or that doesn’t seem sincere based on experiential factors like eye contact or body language. Internally, one-on-one meetings can be logged to extract an employee’s KPIs. Covering the full spectrum of employee engagement, cataloging exit interviews could reveal common threads, giving managers a glimpse into why they might be losing workers. More importantly, leadership can address those commonalities to better retain talent in a competitive marketplace.

Addressing privacy

In a scenario in which clients, employees or colleagues are being recorded, and those recordings are being analyzed and cataloged, privacy must be addressed. Fortunately, just as with phone calls that are recorded for training purposes, or the majority of virtual meetings held today, a simple permission step is usually all that’s needed to clear that hurdle. Saving conversational highlights also means that entire conversations don’t need to be held, only the key points. An internal depository also assumes a secured perimeter, with trust in the content’s merit justifying that boundary.

While it’s true that technological scale and velocity can dilute experiential factors, by specializing in these areas, new conversational platforms are ready to capture and organize key tenets of collaboration in new and more valuable ways than ever in the new year. 

About the Author

Ranjan Kumar is the founder of Entropik, an Emotion AI startup, Ranjan Kumar, is an AI enthusiast and innovator who is passionate about the process of creating. Ranjan is a neuroscience enthusiast who spends his time learning the inner workings of how the colorful world of emotion crafts experiences, both the good and the bad. Researching in the space of Emotion Tech and Cognitive Science, he aspires for a world that is not just artificially intelligent but emotionally perceptive.

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