The way of the future

ACN asks regional CIOs if they are considering increasing their use of video conferencing to save on growing travel costs.

  • E-Mail
By  Patrick Elligett Published  January 4, 2009

Mohammad Khatib, director of IT, Amman Stock Exchange

The most important benefit that video conferencing will bring is not the cost savings, but preventing the loss of productivity that occurs when we send someone away.

Suppose one of our staff need to go to a two hour meeting overseas. We will send them off the day before, they will have the second full day put aside for a short meeting and go back the day afterwards. With VC we could have that person only missing the two hours work, rather than three entire days.

The most important thing that I think VC has always been lacking is direct eye contact. With the new 3D technoogy, apparently this problem has been solved.

So if you can do it with only two hours of VC, not only have you saved on travelling costs but more importantly, you have saved on valuable time.

Since international travel is expensive and you are losing productivity, you also want to limit the amount of people who will be travelling. Suppose we wanted four people to participate in a meeting: with travelling we might only send one or two people, but with VC we could have all four attend the same meeting.

The one important thing that I think VC has always been lacking is direct eye contact. With the new 3D VC technology, apparently the eye contact problem has been solved, because the person who is sitting in another room in another country is still able to look you in the eye and you get the feeling that they are in the room with you.

It is not exactly the same as being present in the room, but you achieve much better communication than you do with traditional VC systems that lack this technology.

Cost is definitely not much of an obstacle with VC. When you pool it together with all the other costs and technology you need in an organisation, it doesn't really amount to much. The main negative with VC technology is compatibility.

If you were building a corporate VC network, and you acquired the same technology for all your branches then obviously, the issue is solved, but if you are an independent organisation and you need to use VC with other parties, and you are each buying your own systems, it is hard to get them to talk to each other.

And when you do get them talking, you may lose many of features unique to the system because of compatibility issues.

If we had 3D VC for example, we would lose that feature when talking to others who didn't have the same system. I see this issue of compatibility as the biggest challenge for VC vendors. The industry needs to come together for the benefit of the end users, the market and the vendors themselves.

Vendors should agree on standards for broadcasting these videos and they should sponsor these standards and make proposals to international bodies that endorse such standards. I think the push needs to come from the industry itself, so that everyone follows these standards.

One of the other areas we at the Amman Stock Exchange are looking at with VC in mind is training. Suppose we need to train an engineering team on a new networking technology, and these people need to sit for six hours per day over a three day training course - if these people need to travel somewhere, then they would lose 5 days of work leaving the day before and coming back the day after.

The other issue is that we may not be able to send all five people for that amount of time because we need them to be working. So if we decided to send two people in one week and three in the next, then we would have to hold two training courses.

So this is a problem where we end up either seriously inconveniencing our organisation through the loss of work, or training only half the people we need to train because of the amount of time wasted when we send someone abroad.

Ideally, I think a combination of both travelling and VC technology is necessary to save on cost and productivity, but still get the best communication results.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code