PGi Demonstrates the Benefits of Collaborative Technology

Premiere Global (PGi)
2010-06-30 11:43 2456

For the road warrior, is the end of the road up ahead?

How collaborative technology is changing the way we work and meet

By Paul Crighton, vice president of sales, Asia-Pacific, Premiere Global (PGi)

HONG KONG, June 30 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- The following is a position paper, which discusses how to utilise collaborative technologies to achieve better work, better life.

You see them in airline lounges and hotel lobbies around the world. Impeccably dressed, with a sense of purpose and an abundance of gadgets to stay in touch; these traits epitomise the road warriors who travel across the country and abroad to seal the deal and bring home the company bacon.

In recent times, the state of the economy has been a driver in the adoption of collaboration technologies that could be a precursor to the death of the road warrior. Recent statistics certainly suggest so, with many organisations looking at online collaboration as the means of offering more options to retain valued staff or increase profit and productivity. The 2009 film "Up in the Air" -- with George Clooney as the high-flying corporate executive in the face of a relevancy-crisis, and the young upstart determined to replace the road warriors by putting everyone on video conferencing -- certainly offered an introspective look into the issue.

The death of the road warrior

Is the death of the road warrior a good thing for global business? Many would argue the opposite: certainly there's nothing better than a good face-to-face meeting to gauge the reaction of your customer prospect, or employee, to take a litmus test of how your regional office is performing and identifying opportunities for growth. Face-to-face meetings will always have a place and a need in business, regardless of country or culture. But the power that collaborative technology yields in being able to enhance those relationships with clients and colleagues is too great to ignore.

In the past 18 months, cost and health impacts have played their role in driving a shift away from physical travel, putting online collaboration tools and the adoption of remote working opportunities on a steady rise. In Frost & Sullivan's 2009 unified communications user behaviour study, 50 percent of respondents planned to deploy teleconferencing or videoconferencing solutions in the 2009-2010 timeframe. In the same study, 68 percent of the CIOs and IT managers surveyed found that cost savings were a driver to adopt conferencing solutions and 61 percent saw better employee collaboration and engagement as a driver to adopt.

Meanwhile, the 2009 Sensis(R) e-Business report revealed that almost one in four SMEs (24 percent) in Australia had someone who teleworks within their organisation. These businesses were also significantly more likely to feel confident about their business prospects for 2010 than those that did not telework (net 42 percent compared to net 25 percent).

Having meaningful meetings

These findings highlight the value that businesses are seeing from collaboration tools, such as web and audio conferencing. The global financial crisis (GFC) certainly made its effect felt too. Some of the largest organisations in the world, such as SAP, Symantec and IBM, had total travel bans in place that prevented staff from meeting face-to-face with colleagues or customers in another city. From PGi's perspective, the GFC prompted us to answer the question: how could we provide customers with a better meeting environment that helps them to collaborate effectively during these tough times -- especially with the lack of physical, face-to-face interactions?

The conclusion we came to was that collaborative technologies could not only reduce the overall cost and frequency of physical local and international meetings, they also helped professionals to have more meaningful and productive interactions. Collaborative technologies with video, web and audio conferencing provide feature-rich capabilities to record and playback sessions and transfer documents in real-time meant that businesses could engage more regularly with their partners, clients and prospects on an informal basis through virtual face-to-face meetings whenever they needed. It has also enabled businesses to build better relationships with overseas or regional contacts, instead of saving catch ups for once or twice a year due to the time and cost associated with physical travel.

Since 2005 collaborative technologies have helped Domino's Pizza collaborate with more than 400 stores across Australia. Domino's uses these technologies to announce results and connect with the store managers on the ground, to ensure that the business is aligned and working towards the same goal.

Managers have regular opportunities to share insights with Domino's chief executive officer, Don Meij. These virtual meetings are attended by franchise and store owners, as well as the managers in each state. Instead of doing multiple presentations in each state, the solutions have allowed Domino's to connect and communicate with all staff members simultaneously. As a result, the team benefited through a sense of connectedness and involvement in the business decision making process.

Evolution of collaborative technologies

Whilst some of the conferencing technologies of yesteryear may not have met business needs, new web and audio conferencing facilities available today can really help give the impression of being in a meeting without physically being there.

Solutions that integrate audio, web and notification technologies are now capable of managing pre-event communications, registrations, post-event reporting and the running of an online event -- putting the focus back on core business activity and away from logistics. During an event, you can also receive instant, live feedback from participants who are attending, as well as conduct polls that let you see everyone's reactions to different parts of the briefing or presentation. This creates many new possibilities: from the ability for your human resources director to engage with employees across the region all at once; an executive board meeting to vote on funding for a new venture; or brainstorming different ideas in response to an advertising brief.

Mobile solutions today also allow you to host and manage conference meetings on the go, directly from your iPhone or Blackberry. These tools give you the ability to launch a meeting with a single touch, instead of spending time searching for phone numbers and logins. Easy and accessible features such as recording, volume control and muting individual or all participants are just some of the things you can do directly from your handset. And with the launch of the Apple(R)'s latest iPhone, we can be certain that video conferencing on your mobile is just around the corner.

Collaborative technologies have matured to the point where businesses can utilise conferencing solutions as a reliable, secure and cost effective way to conduct business or even host events, whether it be across the suburb, or across the continent. When the recent volcanic ash eruptions occurred in Iceland, collaborative technologies were well and truly put to the challenge of helping businesses stay connected and operable. Whilst the eruption had stalled air travellers, tools such as web conferencing helped businesses and governments ride out the crisis and maintain their momentum with minimal disruptions to their productivity.

The road ahead

The perceived need to be able to communicate whenever and wherever is only getting stronger. Widespread adoption of smartphones and devices such as the Apple(R) iPad is also helping to drive the possibility and expectation that communication is not bound to a desk or a computer screen. We will be seeing more and more collaborative tools make the leap to these platforms, making virtual face-to-face meetings with many people simultaneously on your phone or iPad possible.

The evolution of collaborative technologies is continuing at a great pace. We can expect people to have richer and more meaningful virtual meetings now and in the future. With less time spent travelling and more time at home and in the office, the road warriors of today will experience a renaissance of greater work/life balance and higher productivity than ever before.

Notes to Editors:

Paul Crighton is the vice president of sales, Asia-Pacific, for Premiere Global (PGi). He is responsible for overseeing and managing the sales teams of the South Asia region and frequently meets via collaborative tools. Paul started his career in the British Royal Navy, where he spent 7 years. He has had 14 years of solution, application and business sales managerial experience prior to joining PGi.

Media contact:

Sandy Yu

PGi Marketing Manager, Greater China

Tel: +852-2299-9018



Source: Premiere Global (PGi)