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Adopt Telepresence to Reduce Carbon Footprint and Improve Business, Says New Study

June 17, 2010

Telepresence, a technology that facilitates geographically dispersed groups of people to collaborate in multiple locations worldwide, is gaining momentum in the corporate world.

A new study entitled 'The Telepresence Revolution,' which was commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project "CDP," an independent not-for-profit organization collecting key climate change data, and sponsored by AT&T, indicated that adoption of Telepresence can reduce corporate carbon emissions by 5.5 million metric tons and will also deliver $19 billion in financial benefits to U.S. and U.K. economies by 2020.
U.S. and U.K. businesses that have replaced some business travel with Telepresence will contribute in cutting the carbon emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total. This is the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year, says the study report.
Apart from reducing carbon emissions, the adoption of Telepresence by businesses will also help in achieving total economy-wide financial benefits of almost $19 billion USD in the next ten years. In addition, Telepresence facilitates companies to run their businesses better while enabling them to reduce their carbon footprint.
Some of the other findings noted by this study included achieving a financial return on investment in a duration of 15 months; saving approximately 900 business trips in the first year of using Telepresence; and reduce emissions by 2,271 metric tons over five years, which is the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 434 passenger vehicles from the road for one year. These conclusions determined a business with $1 billion or more in annual revenue implementing four Telepresence rooms.
Apart from the above advantages, the CDP study also indicated that Telepresence could help businesses in quick decision-making, improving workforce efficiency, and a better work-life balance for employees.  
An independent analyst research firm Verdantix produced this study for CDP. The research firm conducted in-depth interviews with executives of 15 Global 500 firms, who have adopted Telepresence, such as Accenture, Aviva, EMC and Microsoft.
Verdantix utilized the findings of those interviews to develop a new, detailed model to calculate the financial return on investment and carbon reductions of Telepresence.
'Companies that invest in carbon cutting technologies and re-engineer the way they do business will not only be better placed to succeed as we transition to a low-carbon economy but can experience considerable business benefits during this transition,' said Paul Dickinson, chief executive officer, CDP. 'Telepresence is a good example of a low-carbon solution that can bring financial savings and increase productivity while reducing emissions.'
"Accenture has expanded its network to include more than 50 Telepresence rooms across the globe. The travel saved through their use would have accounted for 6,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally from November 2007 through August 2009," said Sak Nayagam, head of climate change solutions, Sustainability Services EALA at Accenture.
According to Zelda Bentham, senior environment manager of global insurance company, Aviva, the company observed a 25 percent carbon footprint reduction since it adopted Telepresence.

Jayashree Adkoli is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Jayashree's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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