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September 14, 2009

Video Collaboration, Telepresence Improve Sales, Project Management: Research

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Companies looking to boost revenue streams and bring their products or solutions to market more quickly may want to consider implementing video conferencing and collaboration technology as their new IT tool.
According to new research from Aberdeen Group, video collaboration, which includes telepresence and video conferencing and communication, has deep value for business. In its report, called “Enterprise Video Collaboration: The ROI of Video in Sales, Product Development, and Project Management,” 54 percent of employees used video collaboration in the past year.
What’s more, the 66 percent of respondents who tracked their ROI using the solution realized a 94 percent ROI, Aberdeen (News - Alert) said. Video collaboration also accounted for a 42 percent reduction in travel time, according to the research.
These were among the findings of the top 20 percent of respondents, who achieved “Best in Class” Performance levels, Aberdeen said. The firms that found success with video collaboration used a variety of telepresence and video conferencing solutions to achieve their goals, Hyoun Park, a research analyst in telecom and unified communications division for Aberdeen and author of the report, told TMCnet in an interview.
“This wasn’t just about telepresence or PC-based video solutions, they were using the entire spectrum” of the technology,” Hyoun said. “In general, companies providing this wide array of video solutions are better positioned to help end-users have a mature deployment of video collaboration, rather than simply providing one or two endpoint types that may or may not fit the end goals or the companies they are trying to reach.”
Abderdeen surveyed more than 120 enterprises that use video collaboration in July and August for the report.
Businesses that deploy video collaboration solutions have not only improved their revenue, but also have improved the time to close opportunities and optimized the time and cost used for strategic projects, the research found.
While the use of telepresence and video conferencing has often been associated with reduced travel costs and travel time, there has been little research demonstrating the technology’s business benefits. Aberdeen’s research shows how video collaboration can support and strengthen businesses throughout their most vital value-creating processes. The report shows companies how to justify making an investment in video collaboration based on the potential business benefits.
“Companies need to start thinking of video as tool they would use - just like phones, just like e-mail - and figure out where video is going to add value,” Park said.
One surprising finding in the report was that a number of responding companies, which made expensive investments in the technology to the tune of more than $700,000, lacked hard ROI measurements for their video solutions, Park said.
But some videoconferencing providers such as BrightCom said the technology doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. The company, for instance, recently expanded its wide range of video conferencing solutions with the launch of a new, affordable telepresence and videoconferencing solution, called the L37. The modular solution that offers a turnkey environment integrating immersive telepresence with Web conferencing functions. The modular telepresence workstation features a desk and backdrop. The L37 is part of BrightCom’s Lumina Telepresence line.
“Businesses need more options for video collaboration, like the L37, that do not require time and cost to design a dedicated room or rooms,” Bob McCandless, CEO of BrightCom Bob, told TMCnet in an interview. “The L37 is meant to provide an instant, collaborative environment where teamwork between employees, partners or clients is natural and life-like. With integrated telepresence, employees can get in and get out, and accomplish their daily goals to ultimately drive their success.”
What are some steps companies need to take to achieve the “Best in Class Performance” levels with video collaboration? Park said laggard firms still need to learn how to use video within their enterprises.
“By thinking about how to get video solutions out to the entire employee base and remote workers, they will gain extra level of productivity, rather than keeping it as a toy for executives,” Parks said. “Once they are comfortable using video, it becomes easier to use.”
Companies should also keep focused on the metrics and consider vendor outsourcing to support the video solution, Park recommended.
“It is critical that video conferencing and telepresence technology should be approached with everyday business operations in mind,” McCandless said. “While external pressures such as travel costs are prevalent, more and more of our customers including Vaughan Benz, a high-end furniture manufacturing with operations in the U.S. and China, are looking to video with data sharing integration as a consistent solution to help improve daily communication, decision making and community between their diverse operations.”
Park said he sees a bright future for video collaboration. And recent research supports that prediction. A new report found that the telepresence solutions and video conferencing market is expected to reach $4.7 billion by 2014, according to analyst group Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert)
“There is a certain amount of value with face-to-face meetings, but if they are not mission-critical meetings where eye contact and body language can be reasonably simulated without much value being lost, those are meeting that will increasingly be video meeting,” Parks said.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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