Video: the bridge connecting distributed agencies

25th September, 2012 - Posted by Meredith Lawrence - 1 Comment

When it comes to the military and some civilian agencies like the State Department, employees and other members of these organizations could be located anywhere in the world. This creates significant logistical problems, as well as issues with communication and collaboration.

In organizations such as these, where employees and decision makers can be separated by borders, and even oceans, meetings are an expensive and involved process. When senior leaders across the organization want to meet face-to-face, they need to physically travel to a location, which can be thousands of miles away.

This costs the government in multiple ways. First, the agency, and subsequently the taxpayer, has to foot the bill for these people’s flights, lodging and other incidental costs. Second, those individuals spend time on planes and other forms of transportation when they could be doing mission critical work, costing the government in productivity.

The actual monetary cost of this requisite business travel is exceptionally troublesome for government agencies today. The ongoing economic downturn and federal budget deficits have agencies exploring all avenues to cut costs. Travel budgets have specifically been a target of this budget slashing across many agencies.

In the private sector, large multinational corporations often face a similar challenge.

Much like government agencies, these companies have distributed organizational structures that require employees be located in different states, countries or continents. And, similar to their public sector counterparts, these companies face logistics, communication and collaboration issues as a result of their distributed nature.

To combat these issues, private enterprises are turning to today’s advanced Unified Communications (UC) solutions, such as video teleconferencing (VTC). In fact, there were two announcements just this past week of companies embracing VTC to help connect their distributed offices and employees.

The first was about the Vaillant Group, a global supplier of heating, climate control, and ventilation systems with 13,000 employees across 20 countries throughout Europe and Asia.

The company implemented VTC solutions to reduce business trips out of the office. They’re hoping the VTC solutions will cut one-day trips by 15% and two-day trips by 5%. Should they reach that milestone, the company will eliminate 700 trips per year, which is equivalent to 450 days of unproductive travel time.

In addition to helping eliminate travel, the company has experienced other benefits from their VTC solution, including: increased engagement among team members, a reduced carbon footprint and improved work-life balance for their employees via telework.

The second example of distributed enterprises embracing VTC to bring the organization together was from POSCO Engineering & Construction, a Korean construction and engineering firm with operations across Korea and across the globe.

The company deployed video solutions in conference rooms across Korea, China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Australia, Chile, Peru, and Israel. These conference rooms are used across POSCO’s offices for a wide range of functions including business meetings, executive team meetings, design and process reviews, remote inspections, project team meetings and more. Overall, POSCO is conducting as many as 15 video calls a day on average, across the company’s global sites.

By replacing business trips with video, the company has vastly expedited information sharing and decision making, enhanced productivity and ensured business continuity. The company frequently connects anywhere between 40 to 800 participants over video at the one time, resulting in streamlined operations and smoother collaboration.

The distributed nature of government agencies can be a significant strain on communication and collaboration without travel. Unfortunately, travel is an equally large strain on budgets and productivity. By learning a lesson from private enterprises and adopting VTC, the agencies can improve communication and collaboration between employees, while keeping costs under control.

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[...] In previous posts on FedUC, we’ve discussed how coordination between the disparate branches of America’s military can be challenging. Based on conversations that the Polycom team had during this conference, that problem is compounded significantly when trying to coordinate and collaborate between military entities in 28 member states. [...]

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