Spacer. Video conferencing usage increasing due to gas prices photo.

Video Conferencing Usage Fueled by Rising Gas Prices

By Harold German

The first noticeable surge in usage of video conferencing was due to concerns over terrorism. The second was due to concerns over diseases such as SARS. The latest appears to be tied directly to the rising costs of travel, primarily caused by the surging price of gasoline. For the third time in this young century, organizations from various sectors, including education, government, legal and manufacturing, are making the move to video conferencing in droves. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gasoline is consumed at an alarming rate of 65 billion gallons each year in the United States, and that number is projected to increase by 2.6 percent each year. But with the price for gas soaring, and the impact on all means of travel from automobiles to airplanes, more companies are looking for a more economical way to get from point A to point B for their business meetings. Yet again, video conferencing has become the solution of choice, and as a result, sales are once again soaring at IVCi, a Hauppauge, NY-based conferencing technologies provider.

There are many good reasons why organizations of all sizes are turning to service providers like IVCi for video conferencing solutions. Make that many "green" reasons. Video conferencing is an environmentally-friendly technology with a wide range of benefits for employers, individual employees and the community at large. The employer saves money every year on the organization's travel costs. By bypassing work-related travel, employees can be less stressed and much more productive throughout the year, and the environment is spared from having tons of pollutants released into the air. A company's investment in video technology has a positive effect on both the bottom line (IE: expense control and profits) and the environment.

The Numbers

In-Stat and Wainhouse have come up with some fascinating projections:

According to In-Stat/MDT...

  • The number of remote workers in the United States will reach 51 million by 2008.
  • By 2010 more than 70% of work will take place at a different time/different place or same time/different place.
  • 82% of workers collaborate with people in other locations.

According to Wainhouse Research...

  • More than 40 percent of people in the U.S. workforce are taking fewer trips.
  • More than 70 percent are interested in alternatives to travel.
  • 63 percent rate access to collaboration technology (such as voice, web and video conferencing) as very important, as opposed to 44 percent prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council...

  • Sales of motorcycles increased by 8.5 percent in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

The saying is, "America loves its cars," but when gas prices climb out of control, Americans are not shy about looking at other alternatives. After all, love is a two-way street. The soaring prices for gasoline have even made some companies employ some rather unorthodox technologies. A well-known shipping company has recently implemented a technology that prints out routes for its truck deliveries featuring only right turns. This way the trucks are not left idling, and wasting gas, while waiting for left-turn signals. If companies are willing to go to those extremes, it's easy to understand why video conferencing is becoming a popular solution.

The thinking is, if you can have a face-to-face meeting with a business partner from the comfort of your office or conference room, why lose hours on the road and incur huge travel expenses? Apparently, sitting in a traffic jam or waiting for a flight at the airport is losing its appeal. So is emitting tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Therefore, video conferencing is an easy and very justifiable way for companies to become more environmentally-friendly.

The fact is that many businesses are becoming more proactive about creating efficiencies in different parts of their organization. Many have found that they can actually improve the way they collaborate internally, as well as with partners and customers, while eliminating costs and productivity losses associated with road and air transportation. Since many organizations have branch, partner and customer offices located throughout the country, they sometimes spend tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars each year in business travel costs. The considerable improvements to the clarity and reliability of video conference technology, as well as its lower cost of entry, has placed it atop of the list of solutions that are helping companies to avoid the high costs of business travel.

The Next Surge

This latest surge in video conferencing usage teaches us an important lesson: never underestimate human ingenuity and our ability to rebound from difficult conditions. The fact is that, despite the trials of the last few years, organizations have learned to become more efficient and productive. They've emerged smarter than ever before. However, smart companies don't wait for tragedies or difficult economic/environmental factors to call them into action. As it appears, the next surge may ultimately be due to common sense.


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