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President Obama says yes we can expand telework

We’ve said it in the past, now President Obama is saying the federal government could avoid shutting down if more workers had the option to telecommute. According to a post on The Hill’s Technology Blog:

“The president concluded by saying, ‘work is what you do, not where you are.’”

Frustration is growing in federal agencies about the lack of telework opportunities. Whatever your politics, embracing telework is change we all can believe in.

Thanks President Obama!

Get in Shape with Video Conferencing

workoutVideo conferencing is known to help get communications in shape, but I’ve found a way to use video to help keep the rest of me in shape too.

Recently, my sister and I started a DVD exercise program together to motivate each other to work out every day. We were making good progress and sticking with the routine for about a week and a half when I had to go out of town. Neither of us wanted to break the momentum we had going, so we came up with the idea to continue working out together while I was away with the help of video conferencing.

Although we were 1,200 miles apart, we continued the workout program on schedule. Using PC video conferencing, I called my sister on her personal video conferencing system which she pointed at both herself and the T.V.  This way I was able to watch and participate without ever missing a beat.

Here are some other ways video conferencing can help people get in shape:

  • Gyms can offer more exercise classes by allowing the instructors to teach remotely. Its more cost efficient for the gyms and provides more options for customers.
  • Work out DVDs are expensive, so a group of friends could invest in a single program and still work out in the comfort of their own home by sharing the content directly from video conferencing systems. This way they can see each other and watch the DVD at the same time.
  • If you don’t have a work out buddy near you to help stay motivated, find someone else online in your same situation and meet over video to work out virtually.

Got any other ideas?

TASSCC Annual Conference

For more information about this event, please visit TASSCC Annual Conference.

VoiceCon 2010: It’s a wrap

TANDBERG booth at VoiceCon 2010

TANDBERG booth at VoiceCon 2010

Early in my career I attended dozens of trade shows, when the test of a “good” show was more about how big and theatrical the booths were versus how relevant the technology was.  Too often, the exhibitors spent more time talking with each other and playing with whatever gadget was being given away than engaging in real dialogue with real prospects.

I didn’t know what to expect at the VoiceCon Conference & Expo held last week in Orlando, Florida, but much to my delight the excitement in the air was impossible to ignore. This show reminded me that there are still “good” shows that are relevant and attract people you want to talk to.  I felt like the show attendees were on a mission of sorts to see the latest in unified communications (UC) and collaboration.

VoiceCon is known to be the source for the latest UC solutions and it didn’t disappoint. There was lots of talk about new subscription-based hosted services and Microsoft OCS integration capabilities, but it was the enthusiasm around video conferencing and telepresence that was really exciting.  I spoke with  some people who were looking to leverage video as a part of their UC strategy and some who just wanted to find a sleek endpoint for their office. Many were impressed by new desktop telepresence offerings. It was really refreshing to meet people at the exhibits who knew what they wanted to see and were genuinely awed by what exhibitors had to show them. It was really cool to see them get energized about the possibilities for video conferencing and telepresence in their lives.

Video communications have been an integral part of my life, both professional and personal. During  this trip, video allowed me to connect with my family at home.  After being away from home for 2 days, my 11-month old daughter was really excited to see me when I called home using the TANDBERG EX90 from the exhibit floor.  She kept reaching out to give me a hug – something that wouldn’t have had the same heart-touching effect on a plain old voice phone.

I am already looking forward to VoiceCon next year to see the latest technology advancements, and with video, my time away from my family will be more bearable.

VTC manufactures a better way of working

The American economy has been shifting over the course of the last few decades, away from manufacturing and more towards services. This shift has been compounded by the current recession, as sales shrink companies are forced to reduce production, cut down on costs or close shop.

Although many cities have made the successful switch from a manufacturing-oriented economy to a services-oriented economy, some have struggled. This has led to significant unemployment, and has resulted in population loss.

In fact, a recent Bloomberg article cited government data to show that manufacturing powerhouses are seeing their largest declines in population since 2000. Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania accounted for eight of the 10 industry-dependent metro areas experiencing the largest population losses. Aside from New Orleans, whose population loss is attributed to Hurricane Katrina, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit saw the largest population drops directly attributed to the economy.

This drop in population and tax revenue is a major problem for these cities, as it creates a large number of budget concerns and infrastructure issues.

Although American manufacturing has made a slight rebound since the beginning of the year, there are other ways that these cities can help retain their existing populations and even operate more effectively and efficiently in the face of declining populations. One of those ways is widespread adoption of video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions.

Following are a few examples of how video can be utilized:

– Education. Video in education provides high quality education for students at a fraction of the cost. VTC enhances education through distance learning opportunities and sharing teacher resources via video instead of transporting students from one side of the county to another.

– Judicial systems. Utilizing video in the judicial system allows cities to reduce the need to transport criminals, which is an expensive and dangerous process. It also can reduce the need to have experts physically appear in court and can help judges issue warrants and perform other duties faster while improving the safety of American citizens.

– Telework. What if that employment was available elsewhere, but available without the need to relocate? VTC allows employees to communicate and collaborate as if they are in the same room. It also allows managers to see their employees and eliminates many of the perceived problems some companies have with teleworking.

Helping states overcome budget crunches in this economy and giving residents a reason and the means to stay? Now that’s a new way of working.