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When the global economic outlook is uncertain, businesses prepare themselves for a possible decrease in revenue by adopting strict cost control measures such as travel and budget cuts. The most extreme organisations literally turn into hibernation mode, freezing investments which ultimately results in leaving more space for the competition to make aggressive moves and gain market share.

 

Hoping that the days ahead will be brighter, others decide to invest in audio and video conferencing solutions in the hope of instantly reducing costs, time risk, and carbon emissions associated with travel. Unfortunately, this investment often becomes a waste of financial resource as once the storm has passed people resume previous travel habits. This is the result of a lack of an internal policy combined with the absence of technology adoption programmes for executives and staff.

 

So what do the best companies do?

 

Any executive looking at investing in video to cut down on travel ought to take into account the broader benefits and real business value of a culture of collaboration. While it may help you reduce travel expenses early on, bear in mind that market leaders and game changers continue to invest even more in visual communications. Gone is the time when collaboration technology was exclusively reserved to senior executives. Just like they increase marketing and advertising budgets, leading companies double down on technology investment to build competitive advantage, by making video collaboration available to all business functions, lines of business and hierarchy levels. And “Why is that?” you may ask me. The answer is competitiveness.

 

Competitive advantage occurs when an organisation acquires or develops a combination of attributes that allows it to outperform its competitors.  Market differentiation can come from the type of people you hire, the process you implement, the experience or product you create, the technology you invest in or a mix of the four. This is why leading companies continuously invest in people and technology, such as unified communication and collaboration tools, which transform the way they innovate, operate and serve their customers. Market leaders do not only look at top line revenue or cost avoidance. They use other key business metrics such as workflow and process optimisation, human capital management, innovation acceleration, customer satisfaction, service and product quality. These all ultimately contribute to sustainable development and the success of any organisation.

 

It is time to think outside of the box, or should I say to think outside of the room.

 

When video collaboration technology is deployed beyond the four walls of the conference room, it turns into a competitive weapon. Human capital – in other words, people – are the source of productivity and innovation. But connecting people and knowledge anytime, anywhere using any device is even more critical. People need to be able to try ideas, discuss theories and test concepts in order to break down boundaries in terms of innovation and creativity. This is why real-time video collaboration combined with content sharing and annotation capabilities is the true business enabler to greater competitiveness. In his book titled Good to Great, Jim Collins explains:  “When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it” (Source: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001, p.152). If you enable geographically dispersed teams to collaborate face-to-face via video regardless of location, device or network, your organisation literally can defy distance, time and culture.

 

Companies and government agencies that have seen tremendous returns from this technology – beyond travel – have adopted it across all departments and at all levels. Video has become the way they operate daily, collaborate with suppliers, communicate with partners and interact with customers. I personally look forward to the day when business executives start saying “It’s time to Polycom our supplier or customer”, just like they would currently say “I need to Fed-Ex documents” or “Google information”. If not, they will surely meet their peers in the very same room full of laggards discussing how to cut more costs while the market leaders continue eating their market share thanks to collaboration technologies such as video. Just ask yourselves which room you want to be in.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog, as I will share how to build a solid business case for Unified Communication and Collaboration. Till then remember, start thinking beyond the room, lead the way and defy distance!

Comments
Occasional Visitor

I've been a proponent of advanced technologies and strategies in the workplace for many years. I have, however, put forth the challenge that our greatest returns are in the area of moving from the commuter centric/telework methodologies to a more pragmatic multi-location office network design. It is great to think video conferencing might save me flying from DC to Singapore but I never fly to Singapore. Our greatest needs are in the extended metropolitan communities and please do not argue for generic internet connectivity and the work from home approaches; the numbers do not bear out a high level of success. If you really believe the jargon of thinking outside the room, then you might want to advance the discussion to a higher level of extended metropolitan distributed office design. You can view my arguments for this approach in a white paper draft, "Accelerating Economic Development with Advanced Telecommunications Infrastructure" on my LinkedIn home page - http://linkedin.com/in/mbshear.

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