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Video Conferencing can Save the Federal Government Billions

September 24, 2012

There’s a lot of talk and debate over how the USA’s deficit can be fixed, whether it’s less spending, more taxes, or any combination thereof. The goal right now, though, isn’t to have a political debate, but rather to point out one way the federal government could save billions a year: video conferencing.

According to a report from Telework Exchange, “Fly Me to Your Room: Government Video Conferencing Collaboration Report,” video conferencing can save federal workers three and a half hours of productivity a week. Multiply that by all the federal employees that could benefit from it and all the weeks in the year, and you’re looking at around $8 billion in annual savings.

The respondents surveyed for the study, when asked about video conferencing, largely shared similar ideas. 92 percent of them feel that using more video conferencing would save taxpayer money, and 73 percent felt it would help tighten project timelines, due to the improved productivity. Over three fourths of them noted that a reduced need for travel would be the greatest benefit of video conferencing, although many also noted that saving money, improving collaboration, and reducing carbon emissions would also be great benefits from it.

However, there are still obstacles blocking the spread of video conferencing on a federal level. While the easily amended issue of not having available video conferencing tools was the biggest issue, there are problems with network or bandwidth limitations, cultural barriers, cost issues, and managers or employees not understanding the benefits of video conferencing. Another big issue is a lack of compatibility between video conferencing platforms – an issue raised several times by users in the past, but one that continues to be ignored as rivaling developers continue to try and make the other obsolete.

“In our experience, the largest barrier to the adoption of video conferencing has been the lack of device interoperability,” says Stu Aaron, CCO at Blue Jeans Network, which underwrote the report.

Adding, “Organizations should not have to worry about whether or not all participants are using the same video conferencing solution, computer, or mobile device. The report findings support our relentless focus on making video conferencing as simple as an audio call in order to have government and non-governmental organizations alike benefit from better productivity and the cost savings associated with video conferencing.”

So here we are, with a method to save billions on tax dollars each year, as well as improve productivity, and yet it’s still underutilized. There’s still much work to be done before everyone understands the benefits of video conferencing, and the solutions for video conferencing can work together well enough that compatibility issues are a thing of the past. Still, the outlook is not bleak. Video conferencing is expected to increase greatly over the coming years, as its benefits become more apparent and the issues with it become fewer. Progress marches on, but trying to pick up the pace might help.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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