Deciding to adopt a new technology starts with a need for it. Videoconferencing is no different. But it is such a different way of communicating that often the end users who might benefit the most may be reluctant to use it.
With more and more organizations using videoconferencing, the question they are facing is how to get people to use it. Adding videoconferencing to a culture is a dicey business. You can’t force it on people, but you need to make them understand the importance of it. To begin, helping users see the benefits of videoconferencing is key.
For many companies, that is as simple showing users the savings in time and money achieved when airline tickets, hotel stays and other customary travel expenses are replaced by virtual face-to-face meetings.
Matt Blumberg, the co-founder, CEO and chairman of email certification and scoring firm Return Path, agrees that videoconferencing has helped his company trim travel expenses. But he doesn’t necessarily see that as its biggest benefit.
“We’re not a virtual organization,” says Blumberg, “but we have 350 people in 12 offices across seven countries, and lots of people manage other people in different offices. There is almost certainly a specific ROI associated with reduced travel, but we haven’t tracked it. The biggest benefit for us is around organizational connectedness.”
Although the use of telepresence can trim expenses, increase productivity and raise the quality of a company’s workforce, the notion of speaking into a camera is outside many employees’ comfort zones.
“The first thing a company needs to do is evaluate its needs,” says Mariette Johnson Wharton, vice president and co-founder of Vidtel. “For example, it needs to ask itself, `How am I going to be using this and how often?’ Then you look at where you want to set it up, and then you think of all the things you can do with it.”
David Danto, Director of Emerging Technology for the International Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance (IMCAA) industry association recommends, “Lead with the people.