In recent years, the growth of video conferencing has been driven by:
 
+ a drive to control costs
+ a need to reduce response times
+ decreasing costs of video conferencing technology
+ negative events (i.e. war, weather & illness)
+ mergers & acquisitions
+ corporate downsizing
 

Drive to Control Costs

 
Most organizations are interested in controlling costs to remain competitive and positively impact the bottom line of the organization. Using video conferencing helps control costs by minimizing the need to constantly travel and improving communications between sites.
 

Need To Reduce Response Times

 
As the economy has become more global, with workers doing similar jobs scattered locally, nationally or around the world, there is an increased need to reduce response times. This holds true both for completing work more efficiently, but also solving problems. Using video conferencing can allow work to be accomplished and problems to be solved without the need for travel.
 

Decreased Costs of Video Conferencing Technology

 
Since its commercial introduction in 1982, the costs of video conferencing have dropped significantly. Hardware prices have dropped, resulting in anyone being able to afford the purchase of video conferencing technology. In many instances video is available as a standard feature
in devices (think tablets and cell phones). Additionally, no longer must users pay a per minute charge to use video. Instead, the use of video is bundled with the cost of the device or as part of a telephone line used for many purposes. Connectivity costs for video have dropped significantly as video connections have migrated from ISDN lines to dedicated IP lines and the Internet.
 

Negative Events

 
As weather has become more violent (i.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.), war has raged, and illnesses have become more global (i.e. H1N1 virus) the desire to find another means to communicate has become a necessity. Video conferencing allows people to stay connected without the need to travel.
 

Mergers & Acquisitions

 
Video conferencing is now being used by organizations as they acquire or merge with other firms. With a global economy, mergers & acquisitions are rarely between two organizations located in the same city. Video conferencing has allowed easier transitions and reduced the need for everyone having to travel to complete a merger or acquire another organization.
 

Corporate Downsizing

 
As organizations have seen the need to decrease in size, video conferencing has proven a useful technology to communicate between sites. Understanding the current state of video conferencing and focusing on return on investment can help organizations increase usage of the technology and better understand its benefits. In many organizations, video conferencing is being viewed as a business necessity and efforts are in place to drive adoption and optimize usage of equipment.
 

The Current Situation

 
The use of video conferencing has the potential of increasing productivity and efficiency by reducing unproductive travel time, preventing meeting delays, creating shorter & more structured meetings, and providing faster exchange of information. With video conferencing, and the data collaboration tools that are now used with it, individuals can get information when it is easiest for them, on a real-time or delayed basis. By increasing usage of video conferencing, organizations will quickly see a financial return on investment. Users want technology that is transparent to them and easy to use, allowing them to conduct business independently and efficiently. Users want to improve productivity, increase access to subject matter experts, and allow meetings to be held when and where needed. While these factors may be difficult to quantify and place a dollar value on, there are return on investment formulas that can be used to cost justify the deployment and usage of video conferencing.
 
We’ll continue our discussion of driving the ROI of video conferencing in next week’s blog. In the meantime, we want to know how do you judge the ROI of video conferencing? What techniques do you use to drive the implementation of video conferencing into the workplace?