Will increasing interest in a more rational use of resources in business lead to a full blown take-off of Web and video conferencing? For whatever reason, especially in Europe, executives still seem keener on travelling to meetings rather than conducting them virtually from one set point.
There’s a different picture in the US, claims Natalie Butler, UK Sales Manager for web conferencing specialist WebEx, where the market has been growing steadily since 2001. In any case the company claims 25,000 customers now, conducting around 50,000 meetings daily using its technology.
The company – which competes with both Microsoft and Citrix in this space – deploys a set of heavyweight statistics, mainly around notoriously high-polluting air travel, to prick the corporate green conscience. One person flying from New York to London for a team meeting uses 2,690 pounds of carbon dioxide; two people travelling from Chicago to San Francisco for a sales presentation would save 4,696 pounds; a training session with 12 participants flying from Dallas to San Francisco would save 22,377 pounds, and so forth.
“There just is less and less reason to consume time and energy in meeting people face to face,” says Butler. “There’s only so much of the M25 you can stand, after all.”
Butler cites her own experience where as a sales rep in a previous company she averaged 35,000 miles on the road, which dropped to 20,000 once she started using online conferencing.
At the same time, “A lot of UK organisations have signed up to the whole Corporate Social Responsibility agenda, and their employees want to see evidence of how they are working more responsibly. So we expect a lot more companies to start investigating this technology as a way to not just save cost on travel but be seen as being greener.”
Well, that remains to be seen of course. But anything that can save money and cut down on CO2 has to be worth investigating.
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