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Videoconferencing takes telework to the next level

Next week, federal agencies must submit telework policies as federal officials begin their efforts to boost the number of government employees who telecommute. This is the first step towards easing traffic congestion, preparing for a potential pandemic such as swine flu and making the government a more attractive potential employer.

This is a positive move, given that only approximately 95,000 federal employees out of more than 1.9 million teleworked at least one day a week last year, according to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) last Report on the Status of Telework in Federal Government.

In our current economic climate, telework makes sense because it reduces travel costs and enables agencies to save money on office space by allowing employees to share space. In fact, one federal agency that added videoconferencing as a telework tool saved thousands on travel costs.

Videoconferencing is a major enabler of telework and takes it to the “next level.” With so much government focus on going green, recruiting and retaining high-performing employees, improving the quality of life for employees, reducing reliance on foreign oil, and responding to the closing and moving of government offices and bases, telework is a huge initiative across government agencies, and video makes it a realistic solution that effectively deals with these issues. Here are some of the ways that videoconferencing takes telework to the next level:

  • It enables people at different locations to communicate as if they were in the same room.Videoconferencing reduces many barriers to telework as colleagues, managers and support teams can continue to interact with one another in real-time and face-to-face, maintaining the level of collaboration they have when they are in the office.Workers can share information visually and immediately, and even with base or office changes, still work as a team.
  • With concerns over the retiring public sector workforce, offices and agencies can offer a unique way to incentivize new employees with the ability to telework, and have access to experts around the world, maintaining the level of skill needed to complete their mission effectively and efficiently.
  • It accelerates decision-making across the globe and in emergency situations. A U.S. government defense agency uses videoconferencing to connect and communicate with the warfighter in the field, as well as carry out its mission on a global basis. Access to communications on secret or highly secure government networks, allows them to discuss top secret information, and greater awareness of nonverbal cues by the speaker and listener during a videoconference is particularly helpful when quick decisions are necessary.
  • Productivity is increased by eliminating the need to travel to different locations to attend meetings, and allowing participants to access information from their own computers and share it with others during the meeting.

These are just some of the ways that videoconferencing is used in the United States and across the globe to keep agencies and others communicating effectively.

Is your agency currently realizing any of these benefits through telecommuting? Let us know.

Green IT’s Global Momentum Shows No Signs of Slowing

Forrester’s fourth global survey of enterprise IT professionals found that the slowing economy will not derail efforts to make IT operations more efficient and less environmentally harmful. In fact, of responding companies that are changing the pace of their green IT activities in response to the economic outlook, those going faster outnumber those slowing down by 2 to 1.

No doubt they are evaluating the benefits of video conferencing and telepresence as green IT solutions to help transform their businesses. With an almost immediate return on investment, not only can this green technology help businesses save money, it can also make them more attractive to potential clients who are increasingly evaluating the environmental resumes of their partners and vendors as a main selection criteria.

According to the Forrester report, in April 2007 only 25% of respondents answered yes to the question: Has your company included environmental criteria in its evaluation and selection of IT purchases? However, 59% answered yes in the most recent survey conducted in Oct. 2008. That’s an astounding difference – probably a trend across the enterprise because companies are finally realizing that being green saves green. Moreover, research shows that over half of global consumers (53 percent/representing 1.1 billion people) prefer to purchase products and services from companies with strong environmental reputations.

DoDIIS — a winning show in more ways than one

Last week’s DoDIIS Worldwide Conference, “Empowering Decision Advantage,” in Orlando, was a great show for us. We not only got to see a lot of our valued customers and colleagues, but we were proud to show them first-hand TANDBERG’s New Way of Working with our Telepresence T3 showcased in our booth.

The highlight for us is that we won DoDIIS’ Best Showcase of Technology award, which goes to the booth that best showcases a company’s technology in an eye-catching, innovative and interactive manner.The judges for the awards were an independent group made up of a cross section of vendors, national organizations and Command reps.

The immersive Telepresence T3 allowed us to show how video teleconferencing (VTC) technology supports accelerated decision-making and creates an environment in which real-time sharing of intelligence can take place between constituents in the field with strategy planners and policymakers.

In today’s increasingly global environment, accelerated decision-making and real-time sharing of intelligence are key to success for every mission. DoDIIS was the first tradeshow to which we’ve taken our Telepresence T3, so we are incredibly proud of our Best Showcase of Technology award.

What is JITC and what does it mean to your agency?

Recently, many of our customers have been asking about Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) testing and certification.Many of you have told us that you would like a quick overview of JITC, its importance, the procedures for pursuing certification and recertification, and how you can find the status of any product currently in the JITC process.

The basics of the JITC process are outlined below.

What Is JITC

JITC provides test, evaluation, and certification services for acquiring and deploying of global “net-centric” military capabilities.

The Approved Products List (APL)

There are two APLs of particular interest for the video conferencing market and they are the DSN APL and the IPv6 APL.These APLs are separate today, although they may be merged together in the future as demand for IPv6 begins to increase.

DSN

The DSN certification allows the products to operate on the Department of Defense (DoD) H.320 based network.Once a product is scheduled for testing, it appears on the DSN schedule on the JITC website.This site is public and you can monitor the progress of any product on the JITC website by going to:

DSN Schedule: http://jitc.fhu.disa.mil/tssi/schedule.html, click the link under schedule.

Currently approved products:  http://jitc.fhu.disa.mil/apl/dsn.html, search by manufacturer.

TANDBERG status: TANDBERG has received JITC recertification from the Federal government for the complete TANDBERG MPS infrastructure and MXP endpoint portfolios. In addition, the TANDBERG Management Suite (TMS) is now certified, making it the only management platform for video to receive JITC certification. With endpoints, infrastructure and now a management platform certified, the DoD can purchase a total JITC-certified solution only from TANDBERG.

Video = “The Future of Work”

work_tout_05131The current issue of Time includes a special report on The Future of Work that outlines ten fundamental ways the workplace of the future will be vastly different than it is today. While not discussed, I couldn’t help but see the important role video and telepresence will play in this new work place. This technology will have an even greater impact than it does today, fostering a more flexible, collaborative environment for employees, while reducing costs and providing greater access to experts worldwide.

One of the key management skills of the future is “collaborative decision-making that might involve team members scattered around the world from Beijing to Barcelona to Boston, whom the leader of a project may have never met in person.” While they may have never met “in person,” that is not to say that they would not recognize each other on the street. Moreover, as technology develops, the need to “actually show up at an office …is just going to fade away.” However, the need for face-to-face communication will remain. As the world becomes flatter, and expertise is distributed globally, video will be the catalyst that will bring people together to make the critical decisions that drive business. You might say it will even enable the future workplace.