The internet expands and shrinks the world, but when will business catch up?

I was reading an interesting article in The Economist[1] this week about how there are companies that provide maths tutors in India to your kids in the UK or US for £12 an hour. The Indian tutors apparently sit in booths having studied the English curriculum and give their lessons over the internet. It’s a great business and I’m just wondering when this type of distance learning both in schools and business will go mainstream and hit “The Tipping Point” that Malcolm Gadwell wrote about in his book of the same name.

It’s already happening in business education as I see an increasing percentage of adverts for webinars which can run from anywhere, and I have participated in quite a few over the last couple of months around the world. They are a great way to gen up on a topic with a renowned expert and there are no limits to the size of the class or group.

I was out to dinner with a London student this week studying medicine and she was telling me that her class size was over 400 students. She mentioned that there was only one lecture theatre in the building large enough for the class so there must be all manner of scheduling issues to manage.

I was also advised yesterday that Fresh Networks had run out of space and could not accommodate any more at their London breakfast seminar in early December which was three times oversubscribed. Interestingly the topic was about influencers and I thought they are missing out on reaching so many of their key audience. We all know that in the world of social media we trust what our friends and colleagues recommend more than advertising. The technology is there to also run the event as a web event which would not restrict the numbers of attendees and it’s in their interests to reach as many influencers as possible.

There is a music pub called The Bedford in Balham, South London which is also the bar in “Second Life” which is a virtual reality website where you can become an “avatar” living in this web world. When the pub introduces the music they ask us all to wave to those in “Second Life” on the webcam. If a bar in South London can set up their events with a web audience then why can a forward thinking social media agency not do the same?  Maybe it’s time for Fresh Networks to do some fresh thinking?

So whilst the world seems to be a smaller place as we employ Indians to improve our kids’ maths, we are still wrestling with supposed capacity issues which the web can solve. With the myriad of technology solutions on offer such as Go to Meeting, Skype and other web tools to run virtual meetings I’m curious to know why we do not use this technology more in the workplace. It would help to keep in touch with our suppliers, customers and of course those pesky bloggers like me. If we were to use this web meeting technology more to minimise employee travel time, we could also have a greener planet. Maybe there’s also a slight hope of achieving the new UK target of 30% of women in the FTSE boardroom as they juggle family and business commitments. Your comments please are always extremely welcome.

[1] The Economist “Distance Learning. It all adds up”. Issue Nov 20-26th P35

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