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Video Conferencing Can Help Your Small Business

While all of us can benefit from better communication, some small businesses have specific challenges that video teleconferencing (VTC) can help them overcome. You can examine some Cisco, Polycom, and Lifesize VTC case studies from Here is a quick list of indicators that your small businesses might want to consider adding a video conferencing system:

  • You want to reduce expenses due to frequent, and rising, travel expenses for sales people and executives.
  • You want to "be green" and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • You have (or would like to have) a broad footprint with offices around the country or worldwide.
  • You are moving up in the world, and to be bigger, your success requires that you communicate with companies that already use VTC.

Reduce Your Expenses

If you're considering converting from a travel based meeting strategy to a virtual video conferencing based system, you've probably heard the dollars and cents breakdown of what you might save by limiting travel. But just for fun, let's go over it one more time. Let's say you have a company of about 200 people, and 20 of those people need to take a flight for a meeting (within the US) approximately once a month.

Example Small Business

  • 20 executives/sales people
  • One (1) flight per month for each (domestically)

A Video Conferencing Meeting Solution Would Save:

  • $47,200 (approx) per year on travel expenses (airline, parking, hotel)
  • 940 hours (approx) on productivity time lost to travel days
  • 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions would be saved from your carbon footprint
  • for a total of $95,309.09 in overall savings per year.

Where did we get this information? We just plopped in some numbers into a special calculator provided by Cisco. You can do your own calculations with the tool using their Cisco Business Advantage Calculator. Of course, the actual numbers will vary based on the cost of travel from location to location, and many other factors. These are generalized figures that are meant to just give you a general idea of potential savings you might see by reducing your air and auto travel for a year. And if the potential financial savings isn't incentive enough to travel less, long lines, delayed flights, full-body scans, and shaving cream restrictions might also be a motivator.

Be Green

With potential government incentives for making your facility greener, businesses may soon have even more financial incentives to reduce their carbon footprint. VTC companies recognize the potential of their products to help reduce the carbon footprint for businesses of all sizes in the United States and beyond. That's why a number of our manfacturer partners have created tools to help illustrate the potential for greener business. In fact, you can do a little research on the energy you can save by using this handy Commuter Calculator created by Cisco. Lifesize also has a website with tools for helping you determine the impact of travel on the environment.

Lifesize has created a quick chart of CO2 emmisions by air travel from location to location. See a few examples below (and more here) :

FROM TO ROUND TRIP CO2
New York Los Angeles 2.46t
Los Angeles Tokyo 5.90t
London New York 3.69t
Miami Rio de Janeiro 4.18t

t = metric ton. By comparison, the average U.S. household has a carbon footprint of about 17 metric tons PER YEAR. Source : Lifesize

Broader Footprint

Keeping a broad reach across the country for your business is one way to find new opportunities and grow. But the cost of travel typically increases quickly with the addition of new office locations. If it makes sense to open a small office in a new location, video conferencing equipment is a smart investment for keeping new office locations in touch with home base while keeping travel expenses within budget.

Be Bigger

If its time to step up to the big leagues, you might find it a necessity to integrate VTC into your network so that you can communicate and collaborate with larger businesses who have already taken the step.

Some companies that have taken the step to VTC can be seen in our case studies stories. Lifesize customers like Quincy Newspapers Inc., National Geographic Society, and Barnardo's share their experiences with VTC. Polycom customer's Georgetown University and Adobe Systems and more Cisco customers also share their stories.


More Benefits of VTC for Small Businesses

  • Immediate: Critical issues can be resolved face-to-face at the push of a button.
  • Access: Gain access to resources and expertise at other locations or companies without hiring or flying them in for a 2 hour meeting.
  • Status: Green friendly and tech savvy sets you apart from your competitors.
  • Sharing: Allows you to share images, files, screenshots quickly to your network.
  • Training: Live, face-to-face training is more effective than recorded or Computer Based traing systems (CBT).

When to Fly

A video conferencing system cannot entirely replace the need for travel. There will still be times when a trip to a colleague or customer is necessary. Of course you are the best judge of when it's right to fly, but we have a few suggestions below just to illustrate the point:

  • If the customer is very traditional and expects a handshake to seal the deal.
  • If meetings are scheduled for multiple days, and socializing and team building after hours might be beneficial to the group.
  • If there is a special event in the location of your meeting that may encourage expanding a profitable business relationship.

Some people love VTC so much they video conference on the plane too.

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