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Maximizing Telepresence’s Value for Federal Agencies

November 16, 2011
at 4:21 pm PST

Wanting to treat himself, my friend recently upgraded to the ultimate cable service in his area. He now has thousands of channels from which to choose, access to any movie on demand, and is the proud owner of a remote control with more buttons than the control panel of the Death Star.

You may wonder: Has he expanded his viewing preferences since acquiring the new system? Hmm … no. For one, he’s afraid of his remote—it’s way too complex. He also often struggles to turn the system on.

Those who invest in telepresence need not suffer this technological befuddlement. Nor would they want to miss out on the technology’s benefits, especially after making such a large investment. Yet, as Cisco’s Tim Markey pointed out at our Federal TelePresence Users Forum, several telepresence customers have struggled to maximize the potential of their systems. They had trouble transforming their workplace cultures to communities that embrace video as the paramount means of communication.

Markey talked about some of the ways federal agencies can sidestep the obstacles some companies have faced and create thriving telepresence networks within their offices. His list touched on the following:

1)      Train and support: Provide all potential agency users with the tools they need for success, such as comprehensive system knowledge and demonstrated familiarity with technological functions. Implement support systems and announce their availability to eliminate any user intimidation.

2)      Reward early adopters: Encourage telepresence use throughout the agency by acknowledging and publicizing the positive results experienced by the first employees to successfully use the technology.

3)      Create a telepresence-dependent environment: Reduce travel budgets. Implement HR policies requiring some telepresence use.

4)      Monitor, measure, and report: Evaluate the technology’s performance and communicate successes and opportunities.

5)      Stay flexible: Make changes when needed, and seek support from technology providers. Don’t let the system stop working for you when there might be an easy solution to the problem.

What do you think of this advice? How do you (or how would you) maximize the return on your telepresence investment?

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