In the recession, businesses are cutting back on travel to save costs. For smaller businesses, cutbacks like this have an extremely damaging impact. Unable to justify face-to-face meetings with customers and partners, business could slowly grind to a halt.
The good news is that, even in the smallest entrepreneurial business, the infrastructure to support audio and web conferencing is already in place. All that is required is a phone, a computer and an internet connection – facilities that exist on every desk and in almost every home.
However, introducing conferencing can mean that while travel budget is reduced, phone bills go up – for the business as well as the external parties it collaborates with. So, how can companies ensure they make savings overall?
One option is to select a single global supplier for conferencing services, which can help remove the need to make expensive international phone calls. Imagine someone in London wants to conference with partners in Europe and Japan. If the call is set up through a UK-based supplier, those joining from other countries will have to make international calls to join it. If the call is arranged through a global supplier, everyone will be able to connect by calling a number in their own country, reducing costs considerably.
Another option for businesses with their own Virtual Private Network (VPN) is for organisations to choose a global hosted conferencing service. This means that the conferencing platform is located on the conferencing supplier’s premises and connected to the user’s IP telephony systems through the VPN. Calls from employees using the IP telephony systems are effectively ‘on net’ and therefore low cost. Other participants join by dialling the local access number for their country, with their calls being connected to the platform through the conferencing supplier’s global network. These solutions leverage the company’s existing network investment, creating a highly cost-effective service.
Whichever option you choose, to maximise the benefit your organisation gains from conferencing, it must be embedded in company culture. The advantage smaller businesses have in introducing new ways of working such as conferencing, is that communicating the benefits and promoting its use is far easier, meaning the rewards can be reaped a lot sooner.
But it’s not just the cost savings companies will be able to benefit from. Saving time in a smaller business, where almost everyone has direct involvement in business operations, product and sales, gives individuals more time to sell, increasing the bottom line, and productivity is improved as the hours employees would have spent travelling can be put to better use.
Aaron McCormack is the CEO of BT Conferencing.