MT Expert - IT: Save money and time with video

Cisco's David Critchley argues that video communications are no longer just a 'nice-to-have'.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Investing in technology in a downturn can be a tough ask for any business.  When finances are tight, and clear business benefits are required for any size of spend, investment in technology is often seen as something of a gamble.

This is particularly true when it comes to video communication, which is sometimes seen as something of a frivolous 'nice to have', rather than as a business essential. For instance (the argument goes), why not just use the basic conference facilities on your phone? And do we really need to see the enthused faces of our transatlantic or European peers as we run through company presentations and budget plans?  

Of course, keeping your head above water and making sure you can pay your employees is a necessity. But didn’t somebody once say something about speculating to accumulate?

As the relative price and access gap between large enterprise and smaller business narrows, the value of video communication is beginning to register on the SME radar. So why is it time to think about video communication?

- The personal touch: Some 70% of communication is non-verbal. Using video-based meeting solutions creates a more life-like, personal experience, enabling teams across the country (or the world) to meet at a moment’s notice, in real time, as if they really are in the same room.

- Reducing travel: Less money and less time spent on unnecessary travel couldn’t be more timely, as businesses look to reduce costs, maximise productivity and remain competitive in order to survive the economic downturn.

- Working flexibly: The benefits of flexible working have been much discussed. By freeing employees from some of the physical constraints of traditional office working methods, businesses are better placed to meet customer needs as and when they arise, while still allowing staff to maintain a work-life balance.

- Going green: Although environmental concerns have taken something of a step back as a result of the recession, they have not disappeared altogether - and video communications can undeniably increase the possibilities for reducing corporate carbon footprints.

From client communications to internal meetings, there are a variety of ways in which video can change your business operations. The important thing, as with any technology, is to apply it within the right context and to appropriate tasks, where it can deliver the best results, rather than simply for its own sake.

David Critchley is head of SME at Cisco UK.

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