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Video Conferencing Helps Small and Medium Businesses Capture Big Opportunities

We predict that small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) will lead the economic recovery in large part due to their ability to be more nimble and responsive to opportunities, and video conferencing solutions like the TANDBERG Quick Set C20 will help them be even more effective.

In the past, SMBs dismissed video conferencing as a technology for larger global corporations, but that’s no longer the case.  Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, a firm with a staff of 350, cut costs and increased productivity with team video conferencing. “Video conferencing means we can truly work across boundaries to collaborate on projects. It’s a huge boon for productivity and I wish we’d done it sooner,” said David Hughes, CEO.

See how other SMBs are using video conferencing to gain a competitive edge here.

VTC as a solution for Guantanamo trials

The recent move to the United States of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner to stand trial for acts of terrorism has spawned numerous debates about the efficacy of closing the prison, the rights of the prisoner and the safety of bringing terrorists into the country.

Debates and politics aside, there is another solution that could be considered in situations like this – video teleconferencing (VTC). Many countries require that judicial proceedings be visual, making most people think it must be in person. But, with a reliable and secure VTC, judicial hearings can be held “in person” and face-to-face without having to move the detainee.

In fact, in some jurisdictions in the United States, the use of VTC is common for everything from arraignment proceedings to parole hearings and helps them lower the cost of transport of prisoners between facilities while they increase security.

No matter your opinion of Guantanamo, perhaps VTC would be a good alternative in this situation.

Getting smarter via long distance

The economy may have finally bottomed out lately, but no one would say we’re out of the rough. That means that agencies will continue to count pennies and look for ways to stretch budgets.

But keeping a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for your constituents or for your employees. Often a potential budget buster is training because of the ancillary costs, such as travel and expanding space to accommodate growing class sizes. But there are ways to keep your staff up-to-date on the latest techniques and requirements without incurring travel costs, subsequent downtime for participants or space concerns.

Video teleconferencing (VTC) is a great alternative for the agency that wants to keep costs down, while providing quality training and real-time collaboration for career advancement and problem solving. In fact, VTC can be used to allow senior staff members to help newer employees work through issues, learn job functions and expand their knowledge no matter where they are in the world.

The key is implementing a state-of-the-art VTC solution that integrates voice, video and web capabilities. In addition, if your agency is one of the many that requires high communications security, look for a VTC solution that meets National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) FIPS-validated AES and DES encryption levels. For even higher security levels, your VTC solution should allow you to integrate Type 1 encryption directly into video endpoints.

Another area for key consideration is open standards – they aren’t just for personal computers or mobile devices. Look for a VTC solution that not only embraces open standards, but also accommodates multi-vendor interoperability and leverages existing network infrastructures. This will allow an agency to efficiently integrate video, voice, and web components, including user endpoints, network platforms, and centralized management software.

Taking it beyond the “nuts and bolts” and into the field, so to speak, is also tantamount for success, particular with on-the-job training or real-time collaboration for problem solving. Search for a VTC solution that can go from the war room to the field with a mobile solution or on a laptop computer and one that is compatible with any type of network — including IP, ISDN, hybrid IP/ISDN, satellite, or wireless Ethernet.

In our next post, we’ll explore the math behind the cost savings of training by VTC vs. sending your employees to a training session. We’ll also look at how agencies are deploying distance learning solutions.

Does your agency make training a priority? Is the economy affecting your training budget?

Video Conferencing Facilitates Lesson on Bringing Education to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Army Col. Christopher Kolenda

Army Col. Christopher Kolenda

After reading “Three Cups of Tea,” which tells of author Greg Mortenson’s dedication to bringing education to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a group of California high school seniors participated in a video conference with Army Col. Christopher Kolenda, a former task force commander in Afghanistan who worked with Mortenson to help to get schools built in the country. Kolenda answered students’ questions from the Pentagon during the live video conference.

What a great example of how technology can enhance the learning experience and make lessons more tangible.

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The word is out — telework works

The benefits of telework – from helping attract a tech savvy workforce to saving capital – are getting attention this week on several fronts. As we outlined earlier this week, telework is a great way to save your agency money in everything from real estate costs to travel expenses, but it is also a great recruiting tool.

According to CFO magazine, telecommuting is one of the top five ways a company can go green. In a recent article, they share that Microsoft saved $90 million in one year by substituting teleconferencing for travel. American work culture has changed, and finally companies understand that working from home is not a euphemism for an unofficial personal day.

IT Business Edge shares that “going green” may be the ticket to becoming more competitive, and outlines benefits that include everything from building loyalty among employees to saving money on real estate costs to ensuring business continuity in the event of a disaster or disruption.

And, last but not least, the Telework Exchange announced the winners of its fourth annual Tele-Vision Awards, honoring the best in government telework programs. A few of the winners are the United States Navy for “Best New Telework Initiative,” the Defense Information Systems Agency for “Telework Program with Maximum Impact on Government,” and the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Best Use of Innovation and Technology to Support Telework.”

What is your agency doing to save costs, bolster recruiting and foster employee loyalty? Is telework on your list of initiatives?