Earlier this year, I spent several months making frequent transcontinental phone calls for articles I had to write. From my west coast office, I had long conversations with businesspeople in Belgium, England and even Ethiopia. But I never used a phone, and I definitely didn't fly anywhere. I called from my laptop, using Skype.
The connection was generally better than my cell phone, and way, way cheaper.
We're living in a mobile, location-flexible world, and more than ever, employees work from their homes and favorite cafes, in addition to their cubicles. Folks can do this—often without much travel--because of all the tools we have to stay in touch with clients and coworkers across town, or across the country.
Email and instant messaging are old news. Now we've got videoconferencing – on your tablet, your ultrabook, your Smart TV, and even your smart phone.
Do you need to host a companywide meeting, even though the company is spread across three states? No prob, Bob. Get each office into their respective conference rooms and fire up the TV. You're all on candid camera.There's a host of providers, from WebEx to Apple FaceTime to Adobe Connect.
As Brendan Collins wrote for Fast Company in 2008, videoconferencing helps all kinds of businesses:
“Casting agencies in New York use it for auditions so that actors from Los Angeles can try out for that career-making role. Georgetown University uses video conferencing for a weekly military history seminar to include graduate students in Georgetown’s satellite in Qatar. A non-profit called Medical Missions for Children uses video conferencing to link physicians in third-world hospitals with the most knowledgeable doctors in the United States to help diagnose and treat children with severe medical conditions.”
A study from earlier this year reported that by 2013, 75 percent of companies will have adopted videoconferencing software.
Governmental bodies are already jumping onboard. Check out this photo of Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, using Cisco teleconferencing:
And how about videoconferencing surgery:
So why wouldn't you want to video conference? It's just cool! If nothing else, talking to your TV makes you feel like you're in a futuristic sci-fi movie. And as they say, the future is now.
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