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Teleconferencing Can Help Users Create Better Products and Also Assist Them in Developing Timelier Marketing.

Video teleconferencing was initially viewed primarily as a means of avoiding travel. And, in many applications, it does. But today, more and more companies have come to realize that the major benefit of videoconferencing is heightened productivity.

An electronic meeting need not replace travel to garner productivity benefits. The ease with which such meetings can be held allows participants to hold more-frequent information-sharing sessions, allows managers to more-tightly control the work effort, and reduces the need for other forms of management oversight. The result can be better products, timelier response to the market for those products and a greater awareness of business opportunities.

A Teleconferencing Example

One company has its corporate headquarters in a suburb of Chicago. A division headquarters is located in San Francisco. Existing communications between the two locations was dense. To handle the heavy load, a dedicated 1.5-megabit line was installed to carry voice and data traffic. Half the capacity of the line was set aside for video.

The video terminals selected are a single-cabinet design that contains a monitor, a face-to-face camera, graphics camera, microphone, speakers, echo canceler, slide projector and video codec. The entire unit can easily be moved about by one person, and because of this there is no need for a special conference room.

Executives at both locations need not leave their offices to hold a video teleconference. Instead, the portable terminal is rolled into the executive's office. Cabling connects each office to the video port on the multiplexer. As a result, conferences between the corporation's executives are now shorter, more frequent and more direct.

Better Control of Business

Executives have not noticed a change in their need to travel, but they feel they have better control of their business. Due to the cost effectiveness of dedicated 1.5-megabit service, video teleconferencing costs about as much as two dial-up voice calls.

Another corporation had a standby 1.5-megabit line to back up facilities connecting two computer sites. Videoconferencing rooms were installed at both computer locations. Programmers, systems managers and project managers now routinely rely on the use of video teleconferencing to coordinate their many different activities.

Audio Conferences Were Held

Before videoconferencing, audio conferences were held. Detailed documents were express-mailed the day before the conference was held. Last-minute changes and less-detailed documents were spent prior to the meeting via facsimile. Videoconferences using graphics capabilities can now be held with less preparation time and at times occur within minutes of a problem being encountered. This corporation has found that video meetings take half the time audio-only meetings took.

Today, programmers are at their desks working on a solution, where before, they would have been wrestling with the identification of the problem. Applications that are currently being planned by the company include training, team progress reviews and management-information sessions.

In both these examples, existing communications requirements made the addition of videoconferencing a low-cost option. Virtually and medium-to-large corporation, government entity or business association can realize the same economies. When video teleconferencing is viewed as a communications tool rather than a replacement for travel, the many and varied types of opportunities it offers become readily apparent.

Low-Enough Cost Makes Detailed Analysis Unnecessary

Productivity enhancements may be more difficult to quantify than travel costs avoided, but with today's communications alternatives, the cost of videoconferencing is low enough to make detailed analysis unnecessary. Who could question the benefit of having a nationwide or, indeed, worldwide work force under one electronic roof?
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Daly, Edward
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1986
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