Although the goal is to achieve those objectives right from the start, companies should be prepared to have their videoconferencing culture evolve.
“Video is an ongoing initiative, not a one-time effort to get up and running,” says Cisco’s Mistretta.
Return Path’s Blumberg says his company started with videoconferencing systems for nine members of its management staff working out of five different locations. He estimates that the company now has 50 systems in use, including some that were provided to key customers so they could talk face-to-face with their account managers at Return Path.
He says that creating a videoconference culture “…is more of a habit change than a culture shift. And habits are hard to change. But once people use these systems, they really get hooked, so the habits start to change virally. There’s immense value in seeing people when you talk with them.”
Proper communications, training and evangelizing about telepresence can help ensure that a company’s employees use videoconferencing regularly and intuitively, according to Cisco’s Mistretta.
“Executive support is critical, because it emphasizes the organization’s larger strategy behind implementing video,” she says. “The corporate communications or marketing department can help develop tools … to encourage increased usage.
“An organization will (also) need some go-to people who are well trained in how the system operates. These evangelists should work closely with IT and corporate communications/marketing to drive internal training and promote video throughout the company, Mistretta says.
However, even if a company follows all of the suggestions above, videoconferencing will never become part of a corporate culture if common sense isn’t part of the adoption equation.
“If it’s difficult to use, then people simply aren’t going to use it,” says Wharton. “People need to be trained how to use it, and they have to see what the benefits are for them. You want to make sure it’s a good experience for them.”