Ten Ways Your Company Can Use Video to be “Green”
Innovation: One Key to Corporate Social Responsibility
Using Video to Go Green While Simultaneously Improving Employee and Customer Communication and Increasing Profits
There's no denying that the world is in the midst of a major energy transition as limited oil supplies bump against increasing global demand. This fact, coupled with the strong evidence that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric carbon with unpredictable effects on our climate, makes concern for the environment a requirement. This necessity applies as much to business as it does to individuals.
As enterprises make conscious decisions about how to shape a sustainable energy future, technology is taking center stage in corporate green policies, particularly those technologies supporting communications. Specifically, enterprise video has the potential to dramatically reduce an organization's energy costs and carbon footprint.
For today's globally dispersed workforces, live and on-demand video presents a viable alternative to corporate travel. In doing so, the technology is allowing organizations to cut down on employee commuting and air travel-the major culprits of environmentally harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a huge cost to the enterprise.
Simply put, leveraging digital media across an enterprise curbs the depletion of natural resources while simultaneously cutting costs. Think of it this way: according to TerraPass, one passenger on a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to New York is responsible for the emissions of 2,005 lbs CO2 – that amounts to 120,300 pounds CO2 for a flight of 60 people (a fairly small corporate conference). With that number in mind, just imagine what would happen if businesses across the globe standardized on videoconferencing and streaming video as a part of their standard business practices. But while the environmental benefits of cutting down on travel with video conferencing are undeniable, the productivity gains and cost savings are just as noteworthy. Long commuting times and unnecessary business travel take their toll on any organization, in terms of lost productivity and high costs.
Job satisfaction is also an important consideration. Let's face it– air travel isn't getting any easier. Fare and fee increases, over-bookings and long delays have transformed air travel from a privilege to pure punishment. But this headache and frustration can easily be avoided by replacing physical meetings with virtual meetings.
Real World Value of Virtual Meetings
A 2007 report from Global Industry Analysts estimated that by 2010, videoconferencing revenue will reach $11.9 billion. Similarly, Gartner predicts that Web conferencing will be available to 75 percent of corporate users by 2011.
Why? In addition to complying with green policies, the technology fosters anideal collaboration environment that operates in real time and provides rich-media interactions for internal and external communications alike.
For example, microprocessor powerhouse Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) leverages video to connect 17,000 employees in more than 30 sites around the globe – from Sunnyvale to Shanghai and Massachusetts to Milan. Its quarterly “Worldcast” event is broadcast to thousands of desktops, resulting in four times the number of participants (compared to a physical meeting) – all without the need for travel.
Jyske Bank also struggled with connecting distant employees before implementing a video system. Denmark's second largest bank now uses live and on-demand streaming video webcasts to deliver everything from executive presentations, training and product information to its 4,000 employees based in the UK, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Germany, France and Poland. In doing so, the company has not only cut down on the need for corporate travel, but has simultaneously built a stronger sense of shared vision and community within the organization.
Likewise, Raytheon, a large global defense contractor, has been a pioneer in using video to enhance corporate communications and coordinate major projects across its global employee base. The company conducts about 300 live webcasts a year and publishes hundreds of hours of on-demand programming. Led by everyone from the CEO and divisional presidents for leadership communication to internal technology experts sharing cutting edge knowledge, they find streaming video to be effective, economical and environmentally sound.
Going Green to Gain Some Green
The importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for company success has increased dramatically over the past decade. While it is encouraging to see corporations bearing in mind the social and environmental consequences of their actions, "going green" requires a deeper transformation than simply creating a CSR policy.
Clearly, we can't change the world overnight, but altering our environmental practices can make a huge difference to our planet. By focusing on carbon-saving practices like cutting down on travel, companies are able to realize immediate green benefits both for the environment and for putting more green to their bottom lines. Major global players like GE and Toyota have done extensive studies that clearly prove that green policies lead to reduced costs and more innovation. Establish your 2009 business goals with a plan to leverage video in your organization to save time and expense, reduce your carbon footprint and improve customer and company communication. In doing so, you can go green and save some green, all at the same time.
Addendum: What if you’re not a “Green”?
Are you one of those people who thinks Dick Cheney is too soft on the environment? Do you think we should sink a drill into every bit of open land and coastline and put a nuke plant on every river? Does the idea of hugging a tree make you gag? Don’t apologize, there’s plenty of room for a range of opinions on issues as complicated as energy policy and global climate change.
So let me try to appeal to a different kind of green: The money kind. Since the 1970s (the last energy crisis), the US economy has tripled, but the physical “weight” of product produced has actually been flat. What’s happening? It’s about moving bits, not atoms. The information component (the bits) of our products increases faster every year than the physical part (the plastic, steel, etc. – the atoms). Using streaming video is merely a continuation of this trend: why move the atoms (your body), when you can move the information about your body (a video) faster and cheaper?
A recent McKinsey study1 concludes that most companies can invest in energy savings and get a real, hard dollar payback. In fact, they state that $170 billion in investment between now and 2020 would halve our demand for energy growth while generating a 17% internal rate of return. $170 billion may sound like a lot, but it's less than 6% of annual US GDP.
So if you aren’t a "green" and have no intent of becoming one, focus on your wallet and use video to save money. If the byproduct happens to be a better environment – it won’t be your fault!
Author: Ray Hood, Chief Executive Officer, Qumu
Ray Hood has worked with Fortune 500 companies to use video to increase their communication and reduce their carbon footprint. He has authored various articles on the use and application of video in businesses to achieve higher revenue and customer satisfaction. Mr. Hood serves on the Board of Directors of OneNetwork, a demand/supply chain solution provider and on the Executive Board of Advisors at the SMU School of Engineering. He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
1- How the World Should Invest in Energy Efficiency, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2008