Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why invest in videoconference infrastructure

Work together from anywhere!
A sound business decision
An investment and a mandatory evolution for companies

For intra-enterprise and sales or administrative interactions, today videoconferencing allows the organization of a meeting of two or more people with a level of quality comparable to a real-life meeting. There are two prerequisites for this: specialized equipment (cameras + software + screen) and a (very) high speed connection (between minimum 3Mbit and 20Mbit). All those who have experienced one can confirm, this is a virtual meeting that is comparable to a physical one.

This mode of interaction is clearly the future. More and more large companies are acquiring videoconferencing rooms and on average, videoconferencing can reduce travel expenses by 30% (source It's economical but also environmentally friendly as a large company can replace up to 20,000 annual trips by videoconference meetings, preventing the release of 2200 tonnes of CO2 in the air.

The investment required for an individual or a large meeting room has not stopped falling and will continue to decrease. Today we talk of spending a thousand or a few thousand Euros on quality equipment, then add the cost of a very high-speed connection that is now in the order of €100 per month (but this should decrease with the development of fiber optic coverage).

We are experiencing globally strong growth of people working from home. The reasoning is simple: why spend 2-4 hours per day in transportation to come to work in an open space where we will mainly sit behind a computer with a phone? Why pay rent to house employees who work primarily with people (internal or external) who are located elsewhere? In some countries, employees are increasingly moving from their workplace only for exceptional meetings, or to meet with customers. But their office is located at home. Therefore they can be home for important moments (caring for children, helping a sick spouse, ...) or simply enjoy a better quality of life with less stress of daily commuting. The company optimizes its costs and, above all becomes much more effective. This is sufficient if the employee has a home broadband connection, a computer and videoconferencing software.

Beyond the environmental issues and sustainable development (reduction of CO2 emissions, better use of space), beyond the economic issues (reducing transportation costs, lower office rents, minimization of non-productive time employees spend traveling to and from the office), this is also an essential change in the best practices of the company of the 21st century: in order for the company to have the flexibility necessary for its proper operation, it must offer its employees the ability to work together regardless of their location. In addition to the natural tools that provide the contact and context (social networks and enterprise search engine), the company must provide the proper videoconferencing infrastructure facilitating exchanges and rich collaboration.

Some would say that with e-mail and instant messaging, a mobile or VOIP phone, and webconferencing software has everything you need. I think they are wrong. What matters for virtual collaboration to be effective, is the quality of the exchange, including listening. The fact we play "together", being "in sync". To do this, human beings need an experience equivalent to a face-to-face meeting, brought by the videoconference call, unlike the conference call or the webconference.

My personal experience in watching my customers and partners, is that the companies that make this effort to transform their infrastructure benefit not only from the expected in terms of efficiency, but a gradual transformation and sustainable development of the state of the general work atmosphere. The company becomes more coherent, more consistent, more collaborative. Again, the parallel with the enterprise search engine is striking.

No comments:

Post a Comment