Steve commented recently on desktop video conferencing and whether it is ready for prime time. I regularly talk to enterprise customers about video conferencing. One of the main issues I come across is everyone, almost without fail, has unused video conferencing equipment in the corner of a meeting room somewhere in their offices. These folks embraced video conferencing but soon fell out of love.
I now try to talk to these same people about the benefits of modern day desktop video solutions, room based high definition video solutions and even telepresence solutions. Its always a difficult conversation to start but I try and reflect on those old implementations. Normally we discuss how video was implemeted into existing meeting rooms, and normally the picture from those generation 1 implementations went like this:
- we have a table with chairs on 2 or 3 sides
- we then wheeled a screen and camera into the room and place it on the 4th side
- normally the screen blocked the view to the projector or whiteboard we’d use in meetings
- No-one is positioned to face the camera
- no thought has gone into lighting
- no consideration has been given into how the meeting will be effective.
Effectiveness comes from combining video with the other media we used to make meetings effective:
- application sharing
- co-editing content
For me the use of video during meetings has meant that video does provide the primary focus for periods during the meeting. However much of the meeting is actually spent with people concentrating on other collaboration media and the audio. Given the choice would I use video = YES. Given the choice would I use HD video = YES. The reason is just as in a real meeting you need to focus on slides and information, you need to think but then when you talk you want eye contact and to see the body language.
I think we are about to see the emergence of video conferencing especially given the green agenda, organisations will be more and more keen to show their credentials – and the simplest way is to reduce travel. I attended a live webcast from VoiceCon where CISCO hosted an event using their telepresence solution. They made some substantial claims as to how telepresence had reduced their costs and carbon footprint:
“use of videoconferencing at 185 locations has saved the company about $100 million in travel expenses, eliminating about 15 million cubic tons of carbon emissions”, Sue Bostrom, CISCO
CISCO should be congratulated for this. My hope is that I can influence the people I talk to in such a way that they can see the benefits and reap both the cost savings and CO2 savings that CISCO claim.