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Conferencing Leads Green Business Practices

InterCall recently conducted a survey where individuals were asked what their companies are doing to reduce the size of its carbon footprint. The top response was providing conferencing tools to cutback on travel (66%). Our poll of over 900 workers further investigated the steps companies are taking to increase environmentally-friendly practices.

The survey made it clear that technology forms a key part of the green policy for many companies at this stage. And the key technologies are those supporting communications. In fact, many service providers are becoming a part of their clients’ green teams, to provide guidance on how companies can reduce their carbon footprint.

The reason conferencing has become a focal point is because of its role in reducing many of the carbon-heavy activities that are part of doing business that require only a change in behavior, for the most part. While stories of large companies investing millions to retool distribution and server networks, like Wal-Mart and IBM, are getting a lot of attention, these strategies don’t seem feasible for many businesses. By focusing on cost-saving and carbon-saving practices like avoiding travel, companies are able to realize immediate benefits for “going green.” This is a key reason why we are seeing so much increase in policies that involve collaboration technologies.

For example, the survey also told us that:

  • Fifty-three percent of people said their companies enable employees to telecommute on a case-by-case basis, when it makes sense.
  • To collaborate with remote teams while cutting down on travel, the main technologies used are phone conference calls, Web conferences, and video conferences. These communication technologies significantly cut down on business trips.
  • With conferencing tools being utilized more, 72 percent of people said that they only take zero to three business trips per year that require flying.

Many people thinking about the same-old conference calls say “How can I really get business done this way?” But the key really lies in two things:

  • Thinking more collaboratively you lead meetings virtually. A little training and practice in how to engage your audience and communicate more clearly on a conference call will go a long way.
  • Learning how to use collaboration tools when you meet (web or video meetings). While it may seem daunting at first to deal with downloads, logins, and menus of different sharing options, the initial setup is inevitably the only difficult part of getting started, and with a little practice you will soon find yourself quickly clicking away during your meetings.

There are many options out there for conferencing services, and at times like this it seems everyone is jumping into the game. To determine what type of conferencing tool is best for you, use this guide to help you understand your options:

  • Web Conferencing. The most popular form of conferencing. ‘Show and tell’ features like document sharing and whiteboarding can be used to present and edit ideas. Web meetings are ideal when demonstrating is as important as describing. It is also frequently used by companies for earnings announcements and presentations.
  • Video Conferencing. Video conferencing offers boardroom-quality visuals for high-level, face-to-face meetings. Businesses can queue up video conferencing on demand, and even simulate the feeling of being in the same room as other parties through telepresence technology.
  • Audio Conferencing. The original. Audio conferencing was the first technology allowing a large number of people to gather in one place on the phone, with 2-way conversation capability for all parties at once. Because of its familiarity, this is still the most popular type of conferencing and actually it has become more popular since the surge of mobile telecom allows businesspeople on the road to call in more easily. Keep in mind, also, that most web and video meetings have a “phone” component that can be connected automatically when you enter the session.

To achieve the best adoption by employees, ease of use and scalability are important options to consider. Free training of the product is also a nice perk most companies will provide.

Robert Wise is Executive VP, Strategic Business Development, at InterCall, which provides a number of different conferencing solutions.

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