As part of our #fduCONNECT theme for 2019, our third guest blog by David Burton continues his exploration of  the differences between virtual and actual media in business, and how connection in real life still delivers more than virtual connection in most instances.

In my experience, the growth of virtual business communications has normalised some behaviours that can distance people from each other, may weaken trust relationships and potentially dilute established business practices to the extent that some markets have become distorted.

The first two differences I discussed were virtual media’s illusion of progress and the depersonalisation of personal relationships.

Difference 3: Important Information Can Be Crowded Out 

Digital noise, clutter and “Fake News” make it harder to distinguish what’s important, what’s urgent and what can be ignored.

Business people are bombarded by daily content (including this blog!) and usually have well-established processes to filter the information they want or need. However, this process can still leave overflowing inboxes containing long email chains where it’s easy to miss something important. How often have your colleagues clicked ‘reply to all’ or added you into the email chain to give their communication more gravitas?

Some markets are increasingly distorted by the crowding out effect of too much information; Let’s take the recruitment sector as an example.

When a new job is posted online, it’ll be picked up by web trawlers, packaged and sent to your email inbox with a ‘click here to apply’ button to make the application process easy. But whose position is actually made easy?

Not the candidate: Their application is now one of several hundred and the only acknowledgement will be an electronically generated confirmation email.

Not the recruiter: Hundreds of responses will create a ‘needle in a haystack’ situation with the candidates to shortlist being difficult to find. Spare a thought for your recruitment agent when they haven’t called back to each online applicant explaining why they have not been successful on this occasion.

Perhaps not the customer: Many suitable candidates may not make it to the short list, or will be machine matched on search algorithms. How has it come to this?

Some London based recruitment consultants with whom I’ve discussed this conundrum consider that 60-80% of senior vacancies are not advertised and that most director level and C-suite roles are now placed through networks. This market distortion has forced several recruitment firms to actively change their business models and further intensified digital competition for advertised jobs.

There is no substitute for discussing the relative importance of current information with the people in your network, and the face to face model is still garnering top results within recruitment.

About the Author: David Burton is an experienced Group Finance Director with particular interest in business environments requiring turnaround or improvement. He has exercised governance or oversight over core Finance functions and operational delivery, including implementation of improved business processes, developing Global Operating Standards, setting group IT strategy, building a commercially viable SAAS portfolio and GDPR as a Data Protection Officer with experience of achieving ISO27001 certification. As a business partner to his fellow board members, David provides colleagues with usable advice and decision support acquired from timely & accurate MI, or managing business improvement interventions.