INTERACTIVE SESSION: MANAGEMENT
VIRTUAL MEETINGS: SMART MANAGEMENT
Instead oftaking that 6:30 A.M. plane to make a round of meetings in Dallas, wouldn't it be great if you could attend these events without leaving your desktop? 'Ioday you can, thanks to technologies for videoconferencing and for hosting online meetings over the Web. A June 2008 report issued by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the Climate Group estimated that up to 20 percent of business travel could be replaced by virtual meeting technology. A video conference allows individuals at two or more locations to communicate simultaneously through two-way video and audio transmissions. The critical feature of videoconferencing is the digital compression of audio and video streams by a device called a codec. Those streams are then divided into packets and transmitted over a network or the Internet. Until recently, the technology was plagued by poor audio and video performance, and its cost was prohibitively high for all but the largest and most powerful corporations. Most companies deemed videoconferencing a poor substitute for face-to-face meetings. However, vast improvements in videoconferenc ing and associated technologies have renewed inter est in this way of working. Videoconferencing is now growing at an annual rate of 30 percent. Proponents of the technology claim that it does more than sim ply reduce costs. It allows for "better" meetings as well: it's easier to meet with partners, suppliers, sub sidiaries, and colleagues from within the office or around the world on a more frequent basis, which in most cases simply cannot be reasonably accom plished through travel. You can also meet with con tacts that you wouldn't be able to meet at all without videoconferencing technology. For example, Rip Curl, a Costa Mesa, California, producer of surfing equipment, uses videoconferenc ing to help its designers, marketers, and manufactur ers collaborate on new products. Executive...
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