Can Video Conferencing Replace Travel?

For many business professionals, when they first discovered video conferencing in the workplace they shared the same feeling of skepticism. Since travelling for business has become a time consuming part of dealing with transactions and travel costs rising during peak seasons, video conferencing has become more prominent. Companies can opt to reduce business travel costs with Blue Jeans video conferencingas well as other extraordinary cost saving alternatives. Some professionals have warmed up to the concept rather quickly. As Jill Smart, an Accenture executive was quoted saying “10 minutes into [the conference call], you forget you are not in the room with them” which emphasizes the little barrier that video conferencing has relative to physical presence during short meetings.

As businesses continue to install more video conferencing equipment at offices around the globe–whether from Blue Jeans or not–the expansion of these operating systems will no doubt hold great significance in the business world. Most organizations predict that such changes will reduce international trips and domestic flights by the hundreds by the half-year mark alone. This translates to millions of dollars in annual business travel savings for these companies. On top of this, reduced travel prevents employee fatigue and health days that have not been accounted for.

Rising Travel Costs

Because some airlines are cutting services, business travel is actually rising in cost despite the technological boom. These days, larger companies are also having to reconsider whether in person meetings are worth going the distance quite literally. Video conferencing has developed to the point there it is convincing to say it is practical for most to use and rather affordable compared to regular business travel. Experts from Forrester Research also claim that the video conferencing trend is not solely based on reduction of travel costs but the economy as a whole. Other technological tools are changing the way professionals approach business.

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It has been long predicted that video conferencing could replace business travel because the technology was mature enough for all large companies to adopt. Today, the technological developments have reached a stage of maturity and holds promising outcomes for large organizations across the globe for efficient collaboration. What companies are doing now to replace travel is investing in video conferencing slowly as a transition point. This in no way means telecommunications is new to businesses. Software and networks already exist in the complex architectures of enterprises and are looking to expand for development. For example, Cisco Systems is a technology that is widely adopted throughout many organizations for its telecommunication networks.

Beyond the Business Meeting: Other Uses for Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is not simply limited to meetings in a virtual space but also put to great use for facilitating consistent announcements and training sessions to employees in various geographical locations. According to the New York Times, the use of video conferencing on a large scale has only slowly begun to make sense over the last two years or so. As training can be delegated through a web based platform, sales and marketing can also be driven down to lower costs than ever before. It is estimated that group travel costs can be reduced by up to 60 percent or more relative to the cost of making a sale by up to 30 percent.

While the commonly posed question is whether or not video conferencing will replace business travel to in person meetings in its entirety, there are actually no signs of in person meetings going obsolete. There is still much value to be delivered in person that digital tools may pose a barrier to. What video conferencing has done however, is making the business travel decision making process more productive than before and hence, more selective in doing so. What we can take note of is a report conducted by Global e-Sustainability Initiative that indicated among some technology companies that around 20 percent of business travel worldwide will be replaced by video conferencing.

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Some of the most frequent travelers of our time are management consultants, investment bankers and lawyers–all of which require in person interaction with their clients in order to best fulfill their needs. The use of online collaboration tools and video conferencing in general therefore, poses questions regarding the security of this practice. While in person interactions can be hidden away in a conference room, there is no doubt a video conference call can be hijacked. These days, some consultants may have to travel for up to 10 days a month but with video conferencing, the reduction can be made and the saved travelling time can be delegated for better use. The time these professionals are spending to understand their clients have in no way been reduced as a result of introducing video conferencing.