News that many business travelers regard business trips as a "necessary evil" and are keen to move over a quarter of face-to-face meetings online will be welcomed by IT directors keen to deploy the technology in order to cut costs and limit their firm's environmental impact.
But according to video conferencing technology specialist Tandberg - which commissioned the Ipsos MORI survey of business traveler attitudes - there are a number of steps IT directors should take to ensure they maximise returns from any investment in online communication tools.
Perhaps the single most important factor, according to Paul Gullet managing director for the UK and Ireland at Tandberg, is to get a senior business executive to "champion" the technology. "You need cross departmental support for video conferencing if you are going to get people using it, and you neeed a senior exec to drive that," said Gullet.
The next step is for the IT department to perform its core function and ensure the technology is rock solid and reliable.
But once that is achieved IT chiefs will find themselves having to break out from their traditional skillset and turn marketer, according to Gullet. "The technology adoption will have been driven by the technologist, but then they have to get the message out there that the technology is available," he said.
Tandberg offers a usage and adoption framework service for customers, designed to help them maximise their investment through internal marketing and advertising activities as well basic training and support for users.
Another successful tactic is for the IT director to build a relationship with the firm's travel bookers to ensure that reminders of video conferencing capabilities are embedded into booking processes so that anyone trying to book a flight is first asked to justify why the meeting can not go online.
Gullet insists focusing on cost and productivity is the best way to convince people to push more meetings online, but he added that where firms have an active environmental strategy stressing the pollution caused by flying can also have an impact.
"I always ask my staff how big their garden is," he said. "If you are doing up to 18,000 business miles in a car, four European flights and one international flight a year that means you have to plant a tree a month to offset the CO2 emissions you are responsible for. You're going to need a pretty big garden."
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