How do you make an IT manager into a salesman?

Last week I was asked to speak at a conference of IT managers.  During the session, we discussed video conferencing.  In particular the topic of how to position video within their organizations was hot.  We brainstormed how the IT managers could “sell” the benefits of video to their senior execs and below are the topics that we came up with.

Travel Costs In business, travel is often a prerequisite. Journeying to distant places to meet customers face-to-face is a time-honoured business ritual, and nothing will ever replace the immediacy and impact of a live meeting. But a large percentage of routine business travel — with all their additional expenses — can be eliminated by communicating over video. With improvements in quality, availability, ease of use and the ability to share content in high definition, today’s video conferencing is as close to “being there” as one can get without actually making the trip. Travel reduction is the easiest expense to calculate when determining ROI of a video conferencing investment. Fundamentally, video ROI calculates the number of trips taken annually, multiplied by the cost (transport to and from the airport, flight, per day expenses, salary of time lost in traveling) versus the investment in the video conferencing solution (equipment, service, training, network). Most companies will see that annual travel spend far outweighs the video conferencing investment, easily justifying the implementation.

Increased Productivity across dispersed Workforces Dispersed work forces present many challenges such as slow, or simply non-existent communication between individuals residing in different locations. Most teams interact using phone, e-mail or even instant messaging (IM). However, with 80% of communication consisting of non-verbal visual cues, the ability of teams to collaborate over distance using these methods is severely impeded. Wherever video is added to a meeting, participants are more likely to stay focused, because they can be seen as well as heard. Expressions of satisfaction, concern, confusion, understanding and so on, can easily be seen and addressed, speeding and informing the group more effectively than myriad e-mails, voicemails, and IMs. The result: decisions are made faster, projects completed sooner, and productivity increased across the organization.

Improved Hiring and Retention of Talent Hiring can be very lengthy and costly, especially when candidates are located in other cities or when multiple people are involved in the interview process. Companies with video conferencing can reduce expenses and time by bringing candidates into the nearest facility and allowing interviews to be conducted in person over video. Video interviews can also be recorded, enabling persons unable to be part of the live interview process to see and evaluate the candidate over video. Video communication impacts employee retention just as positively and examples include allowing remote employees to become closer with other team members; helping employees retain work/life balance by minimizing travel; allowing employees to work from home as required, to alleviate the impact of commuting; or simply engaging in real-time face-to-face interactions that are more fulfilling than anything short of a live in-person meeting.

Competitive Advantage When teams communicate over video, they share knowledge more widely, resulting in faster and more informed decisions that reduce the time to market and length of decision making. Support teams leverage video to create more personal, one-to-one relationships with their customers, encouraging a loyalty far beyond the capabilities of a traditional call centre agent. Manufacturing organizations use video conferencing and content sharing to verify product quality, make revisions, and ensure accuracy throughout the supply chain, while their competitors continue to rely on next-day delivery of services. Video enables sales executives to clearly and immediately appreciate the status of the pipeline, beyond the rows on a spreadsheet. PR departments can promote the organization’s use of video as proof of corporate efforts to protect the environment.

The Environmental Video conferencing is an obvious “green” technology, allowing companies to mitigate energy use by dramatically reducing the need to travel. By communicating over video, organizations can also substantially reduce their carbon footprint and help ensure a basis for regulatory compliance. With tools that provide a powerful way to enable conferences and other video content to be streamed live or on demand around the world, employees, customers, partners, and students can use video to interact with others from wherever they are.