From repeated assurances that "your call is very important to us" to an anonymized stream of corporate communications … Isn't there anything that can put some humanity back into collaboration and communications? The quantified self – breaking down human behavior into data sets – could help companies inject some personality into their customer service.

Collaborators In the Firing Line

We’ve all been there, trapped in a conference call listening to the speaker drone on, staring blankly at slides on WebEx or another ScreenCaster. Really, is that the best way for people to collaborate? And as consumers, how many times do we need to hear that we're a "valued customer?"  

In this supposedly enlightened age of collaboration and customer experience, where is that bright spot among the corporate offerings that acknowledge the human spirit? Who can use technology to engage it, to measure it and inform a team that its leader is droning on? Who can tell a company that its valued customers are frustrated by their systems?

Because business is increasingly conducted digitally, companies run the risk of losing the personalization that helped drive so many companies in years past. The Quantified Self – self-knowledge through self-tracking – gives businesses the opportunity to inject some individuality back into the interactive experience.

The technology is already here – we're all armed with smartphones, state-of-the-art conference systems and camera-equipped laptops. It simply requires that we take advantage of "sensory aware" communications to make it a reality.

If it is possible for Siri, Google Voice, Microsoft's Cortana and other systems to interpret our audio instructions, why can't they monitor vocal stress or boredom levels to indicate degrees of engagement, frustration or interest as cameras track our level of attentiveness?

Keeping it Interesting

We're not suggesting a polygraph test or a notification when employees get distracted. Rather, why aren't we using data generated by group sessions to let presenters know what they could be doing better? How useful could such a system be?

Most experienced presenters have a break-out moment prepared to recapture their audience's attention. So why doesn't collaboration software offer automated real-time interactions – voting, opinion capturing – based on what's being webcast? Why not add something that increases interactivity beyond a stream of dense PowerPoint slides?