Friday, 16 January 2009
Credit crunch is driving virtual meetings
Better technology and tighter budgets help boost video conferencing use
The economic situation is putting pressure on company travel budgets, prompting many to use collaboration technologies such as Video Conferencing to reduce costs and increase productivity, according to service provider Easynet Global Services.
The company's latest report suggests that four out of five European firms view business travel as a significant drain on time and budget.
However, many are careful to not disregard the value of face-to-face meetings with clients and colleagues, and the importance of a handshake to a business relationship. Two thirds of respondents said that a mixture of physical and virtual meetings would offer the best of both worlds.
Video Conferencing has often been sidelined as a technology that could never quite get off the ground, but with the development of Telepresence, high-definition video, increased network bandwidth and the pressure on time and budgets, many are looking to their webcams instead of their travel agents.
One in six business travellers in Europe are unhappy with the amount of time they spend on business trips, according to the report.
Geographically it seems that German, French, Swiss and Spanish decision makers are in favour of less travel and more virtual meetings, while this is less of a problem in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
Similarly, half of respondents said that frequent travelling affects their work-life balance, either making them more susceptible to illness or putting a strain on their private life.
As well as saving time, six out of 10 managers interviewed see Video Conferencing as a way to slash travel budgets, one in four calculating the savings at over 30 per cent.
"A lot of companies are unaware that Telepresence providers are offering much more than the technical installation," said Denis Planat, chief operating officer at Easynet.
"Full service providers that manage meetings from booking to technical set-up and support ensure that participants are not put off by the technology. Equipment utilisation is high, and significant travel budget reductions result in a rapid return on investment."
Just over a quarter of companies across Europe are already using or planning to implement full service Video Conferencing, the report found. Spain leads the charge with 38 per cent, followed by the UK and Belgium at 28 per cent each.
View article here: Credit crunch driving virtual meetings