Although Skype’s target audience has been the consumer market, we believe this acquisition will have ripple effects that will lead to the acceleration of video conferencing use across the enterprise. We believe video conferencing will become ubiquitous as costs continue to come down, quality and ease of use increase, and it is integrated with other communication tools for mobile devices and at the desktop.
IVCi recently completed a large-scale video conferencing and audio visual integration project for a client located across the country from its corporate headquarters in Long Island, New York. Although IVCi has offices throughout the US, members of the management team are headquartered at the New York location.
During the project the SVP of AV integration took several tours of the project while it was a work in progress – he did not, however, leave his Long Island headquarters.
How did the SVP accomplish this? VGo! VGo is a telepresence robot that is mobile – a remote control allows the user to control the robot’s movement. It comes equipped with a video screen that depicts the user’s face to the far end, and a camera that transmits the robot’s location back to the user’s computer screen.
The SVP took frequent tours of the client’s location using the VGo robot. As the robot traveled around, the SVP said hello to passersby, spoke with IVCi personnel at the installation site, and surveyed an LCD that had just been secured to a wall. The ability to move the robot around as if he were at the client’s location allowed the SVP to manage the project without actually walking around!
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When the American public learned on Sunday that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by an elite unit of Navy SEALs, the country had much reason to celebrate. Since 9/11 our country has endured the high costs of terrorism that occurred on our soil. Not only did we lose thousands of lives, but New York’s economy lost millions of dollars in 2001 alone. The war on terror has created opportunity costs that are associated with any war – the funds that are allocated to military operations are dollars that are not spent elsewhere, such as on education or health care. Our government considers these opportunity costs when making decisions about our priorities and about which investments would benefit us the most.
In business, as in government, we must consider opportunity costs when we make decisions. When we invest in any area, such as in a new technology, we look at the return on investment (ROI), but we should also look at the opportunity costs that would be incurred should we not make the investment. For example, we know that meeting face-to-face is the preferred form of communication in most situations. When we see the other person we can gauge reactions and relate better to each other. When we must meet with other parties remotely, an audio call will simply not deliver the same quality of experience as an in-person meeting, and we are at a disadvantage. When a company has not invested in video conferencing, the opportunity costs of this decision are numerous – a reduction in efficiencies, decreased quality of communication and an increase in travel costs (compared to those organizations using video), and delayed product time to market, among others.
According to most trade reports the video conferencing market place is growing and will be at least a $5 billion industry in the coming year. The opportunity costs of not utilizing video when the competition is will be high.
Many of us could stand to increase our powers of observation. Observational skills can be improved if, like working out a muscle, they are used more often. In a business setting an inability to correctly read others’ reactions can be disastrous and lead to poor decision making. More companies are using video conferencing for meetings with business associates at remote locations to get all of the advantages of visual collaboration. Next time you are in a video meeting, pay close attention to other participants’ body language. Think about what their visual cues are telling you that belie their words. The more you do this, the better you will be at reading others in various settings.
WSJ: As videoconferencing technology becomes more sophisticated, it is slowly moving up the corporate ladder to the boardroom—helping to save some directors the hassle of air travel and making it easier for boards to recruit international members.