Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TelePresence (Less Travel)

Looks like the CO2 and cost benefits of teleconferencing is making some headlines.

Taking Care of Business
By Joel Makower

How's your travel budget these days?
If you're like just about everybody I talk to lately, your budget ain't what it used to be. Sky-high fuel prices have grounded many road warriors, as companies seek to ease the bite of rising travel costs during a time of economic uncertainty. And yet there's a need to be face to face, if not actually press the flesh. And so "telepresence" — the term for what used to be called "videoconferencing" — is taking off so that we don't have to.
It's not just fuel costs that have given telepresence a lift. The technology has improved and sophisticated new offerings from IT companies like Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Nortel, and Tandberg allow people in disparate cities and time zones to sit around the same table — or, at least, appear to do so, using specially design meeting spaces married to broadband communications technologies. It's still not the same as being there, but it's a reasonable approximation.
And companies are adopting, as we report in this week's story about Deloitte, which recently signed a multi-year, multimillion-dollar contract to bring telepresence to 130 locations worldwide. Deloitte believes the technology will save time, money, and carbon emissions.
But it's potentially more than that. Last year, the chief information officer from one global company told me that his firm's sales team performance rose when the team started utilizing telepresence, thus reducing travel. It turns out that salespeople are happier when they get to stay at home with their families, and happier salespeople tend to be more productive and profitable.
Could it be that the green solution also makes the most bottom-line sense? It's certainly not the first time, or the last.
— Joel Makower, GreenBiz Executive Editor

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