Some meetings are actually exciting—at least those that Kathleen “KT” Thompson (Jack Welch MBA student) oversees. An expert in virtual meeting solutions, she connects people using settings that are innovative, interactive and, dare we say, interesting. Currently the director of acquisition and integration services for PGi—a leader in the online meeting space that recently acquired her former company, Copper Services—Thompson is pursuing innovation in the world of audio, web and video meetings. She reveals the inventive side of professional collaboration and the future of the field.
What’s most exciting about your industry?
The number of conferences that are occurring. In the last five years, PGi has hosted nearly 1 billion people from 137 countries in more than 200 million meetings. Virtual meetings are ingrained in everybody’s day, which is fantastic. We try to make it easy for our customers to connect, regardless of whether they’re using desktop, tablet or mobile devices, because we know the world operates virtually now.
Why has videoconferencing become so popular?
It’s really about the relationships, either with the customer or with colleagues and vendors. To cultivate a relationship, you need to stay connected. It’s one thing to be on a conference call; it’s another to see the person. Videoconferencing is being adopted in many industries: education, financial services, even retail. In retail, for instance, they’re using it to connect different stores or roll out new products. Even though they’re in the field, they feel connected to headquarters.
That means workers in different countries can easily talk face-to-face?
Absolutely. Videoconferencing takes away restrictions. Not everybody can meet in person, so this is the next best thing. It’s also more efficient: You can do eight meetings a day online at an hour apiece, but it would be hard to be in eight different locations in one day.
What do you think the future holds for the industry?
We’ve grown so fast, and technology is demanding that kind of pace. But I think we’ll continue to see the adoption of video meetings as companies look to become more innovative and more efficient. It will be even more of a daily thing like conference calls are today.
So will videoconferences ever look really cool, like in futuristic movies?
It looks pretty cool today! The technology now allows you to customize different screens and choose your own background. For example, we have an option that shows the Atlanta cityscape. It’s a neat, high-tech experience, but it’s also very personal. The role of innovation in our industry has been taking the day-to-day meeting—which is necessary to continue to cultivate relationships—to a place where you can do that more efficiently, effectively and in real time.