I thought I share my answer with you and remember these are my personal thoughts through my experiences with video conferencing and past projects. I do apologize if I am mentioning items that people are already aware of.. Hopefully it will help trigger all of us to think outside the square when looking at the real benefits of video conferencing within any organization.
One factor that is mostly overlooked is the cost of down time. When an executive travels interstate or internationally, he or she spends a huge amount of time in airport lounges, bars, and carting luggage around. Not to mention the time it takes to get to and from the airport. I have personally travelled for business and like always have great plans to 'catch up on emails' or 'write that report' etc, However as most already know that is NEVER the case. Why? Because travelling takes it out of you!
So if an executive travels once a week, the time he or she will be down is roughly 4-6 hours for that trip. So equate that in monetary terms = say 4-6 hours at $50 per hour or maybe more?
That's $200 - $300 a week when an executive or staff member is travelling as they will be technically out of action. Multiply that by 2 or 3 times and you can see that you are paying your executives way too much :)
More importantly travelling will see an executive spend time away from friends and family and tend to run out of juice very quickly! A tired executive performs less and under achieves and eventually he or she may quit (unless you like down time like me). This leads to starting the process of replacing the executive that you have burnt out, HR gets involved, interview process begins and once a suitable candidate is found, training the new person commences. These things all cost money! Even worse the cycle begins again with the new replacement and its just a matter of time before he or she gets buarnt out as well.
I mentioned performance and productivity with a single executive so you can imagine the magnitude of cost that an organisation can be exposed to if they have 10s or 100s of staff who travel as part of their roles.
This leads me to my next point > productivity!
If an organisation can increase overall productivity by 2% does that seem appealing or is it justified to have video conferencing? Well if an organisation turns over a $1 million dollars per year, an increase in 2% productivity should see a 2% revenue increase right? That's a $20K per year increase in revenue and not to mention the potential cost in losing great staff and the cost of replacing them. Furthermore by maintaining happy staff members through the use of video conferencing technologies see less turn over and higher overall productivity.
Naturally most organisations strive to increase productivity without the potential loss of good staff so it makes sense to deploy video conferencing as it can really help. The idea of video conferencing is to not stop people from travelling altogether, its about reducing travel, being more productive and working smarter and living a balanced lifesyle.
Like most new technology it can be daunting however video conferencing has come a very long way and is really getting better and easier to use. Technologies like the internet, satellite and wireless communications is also becoming more reliable and affordable.
Companies need to embrace emerging technologies and drive the culture internally. Did I say culture? Yes culture is a key element to successful video conferencing deployment. It needs to come from top down and encouraged to be a business tool just like a desk phone or a mobile! It needs to be part of the business process.
For example, a previous project that I was involved with saw the deployment of video conferencing for a very large government organisation in NSW. During the rollout I also trained over 500 staff members remotely and locally on how to use the equipment correctly and also how to drive successful video conferencing meetings like any other business tool. The rollout of video conferencing in this organisation was very important and a successful rollout in usage or the 'uptake' was key in delivering the solution. Why was this project so important to them? Apart from the items that I have mentioned, the main driver was to reduce the exposure to OH & S claims and risks. With over 5000 agents travelling to remote towns and driving hours in the day to get to their destinations, the risk was enormous! Video helped them reduce the risks significantly (not to mention direct costs savings in travel) and they also embraced the culture correctly. Today this organisation uses video conferencing within their processes and it is heavily relied on.
So what other key benefits can be directly generated with the use of video conferencing? Well lets take a look:
Team Building, Improved training, Improve decision making and Increased Competitive advantage...
Staff can certainly build a strong bond amongst team members with regular meetings over a high quality video conference as they 'feel' that they are there. People who have never met in 'real life' feel that they know each other at a deeper level. It beats the traditional audio conference and most of the time one group does more talking than the other group and there is no real human interaction.
Team building also expands to companies working with their partners or project teams deals with their customers regularly, or can even be used as a customer support tool. The face to face interaction truly stimulates positive results as it allows them to compete, collaborate, encourage or council in a positive environment that provides recognition and motivation to succeed.
Video conferencing meetings are more likely to be structured and are more likely to successfully meet set objectives. Research has shown they are less likely to drag out or be distracted. Using the video conferencing presentation facility people from different locations can get together to create develop or review documents, project plans spread sheets drawings etc. Video conferencing meetings can be recorded for security, for later reviewing or for training purposes.
Being able to make fast and accurate decisions can be key for most organisations. Being able to 'huddle' over a video conference significantly helps! The ability to call someone on voice whilst the rest of the team is on board is also an advantage and perhaps you can also conference the key decision makers across the state too!
"Video conferencing can make a major contribution to more effective decision making in any organisation. Decisions can be made faster, based on better input and executed more effectively."
The ultimate key to getting ahead of your competitors is to have a better offer than your competitors. Having a competitive advantage means that you have a unique proposition that will not be matched by your competitors. It could be product features, pricing or support. To get a genuine competitive advantage organisations need to be thinking laterally and to achieve this one needs to seek the help of others from various disciplines and experiences. Some disciplines or experiences and skills may not necessarily be in the same room.... Video conferencing gives you the capability to get together the best minds from anywhere in the organisation and the opportunity to create genuine competitive advantage.
Last but not by no means least video conferencing serves our planet in a positive way. For many companies air travel is the single greatest variable in their total carbon footprint. While all reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are desirable, a single jet trip can completely outstrip the carbon dioxide savings made in other areas. Video communications can reduce or eliminate the need to make routine plane trips altogether. The electricity used for video calls is negligible in comparison with energy used to travel. Each video call that saves a trip is a direct reduction of carbon dioxide output. Click here to learn about the cost of carbon travel.
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