You can hardly turn around without news of economic woe slapping you in the face and with little relief in sight, many companies are scrambling to identify ways to better manage spend and reduce cost. Some spending is being eliminated, but where this isn’t a possibility, less expensive alternatives are often available. While reducing travel is almost always a possibility, it is not always the best option, especially for those businesses relying on travel for sales, client presence, and project staffing. A technology many organizations are taking advantage of to relieve budgets while leaving day-to-day business unscathed (or even improved) is Video Conferencing.

Using video or web conferencing as an alternative way to reach out to any and all business constituencies will certainly save dollars on travel but will also afford other benefits that would not be possible without the utilization of technology. A closer relationship can be established between the users. While we all wish we could fly in for every project status meeting with our clients or sit down face to face for every step of the interview process, it just isn’t realistic for many companies. With web conferencing, face to face discussions can be arranged ad hoc with far greater frequency than physically visiting a remote location and with little or no additional strain on schedules or budgets.

Some additional benefits include integrating regional teams and expertise in geographically segmented businesses. On the same order, web conferencing could easily enable a business to expand into a region that would have previously been a financial impossibility depending on the nature of the business and the cost of travel involved.

While taking advantage of some of the dollar saving benefits of video conferencing, organizations also reap the benefits of going green by spending more time in the office and less time on planes, trains, and automobiles. Less time travelling and more time in front of the camera also equates to relief of the travel time and burden of in-person meetings for all involved; less stress for the would be traveler and less preparation and more flexibility for the host location.

Many organizations are realizing through budgeting necessity that they have already been ignoring the power of a very important tool. They are finding that, in addition to cutting costs, there are many added benefits that can really help sharpen their competitive edge. For companies with adequate networks and a little room in the technology budget, this shift makes perfect sense. We can only hope the economy settles down enough to nurture this shift as well as the technology it will inevitably bring with it.

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David Pastore

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