What's a virtual meeting room and why does a strategy around virtual meeting rooms make sense to today's proactive finance director?
Virtual Meeting rooms enable face to face meetings from any device or platform.
Why would that be good?
Traditional online meeting solutions like Skype for Business or Google Hangouts do not cross silo's, they restrict you within them. Virtual Rooms lets you have a meeting in Skype for Business but allows you to connect to Video Users on hardware, Browsers users on a laptop or someone just calling in on a phone.
Why does that make a difference to today's Finance Director?
The ability to have a face to face meeting on any device or platform immediately means you can challenge the need for all but the very necessary business travel. You will never eliminate it completely however you can cut it dramatically without causing huge companywide angst and resentment.
Here's a practical diagram of what you can connect.
So why can you now challenge Business Travel when there have been so many false dawns of hope on that horizon?
First we had video equipment, that never scaled as a solution because it was:
- Hardware based costing £7,000 to £250,000 per solution or meeting room
- Video therefore penetrated 5% of the 50m meeting rooms for a whole host of reasons
- The devices were hard to use for the less familiar users
- They required bandwidth that wasn't readily available across the internet
- You needed Managed Service providers to guarantee quality
1. No Hardware Capex!
Today's Virtual Meeting Rooms do not need you to raise a great big Capex for hardware as they are software based. As software they require only internet (2mb up and down) and a camera enabled device to connect. The really important thing is that camera enabled devices now proliferate in the modern workplace, in fact most employees will have a least one if not two very capable devices with excellent cameras, but unlike video equipment they will be familiar with them.
2. Variable cost
As Virtual Rooms are a software based solution updates are easy and more importantly they can be purchased on PAY AS YOU GO and Subscriptions that are monthly costs. As such your Virtual Rooms can be considered a variable cost not a hardware based Fixed Cost and therefore you can scale the cost up and down with usage and activity.
3. Boost productivity
The Wainhouse Research Study of 4,000 regular users of Visual Communication showed the No1 benefit was productivity largely gained by being able to meet more effectively with colleagues, face to face without the need to travel.
The 2nd and 3rd benefits were more business momentum in nature enabling teams to meet faster share ideas and reach informed decisions faster.
The Key though is your enabling people to work smarter but from wherever they are which means you can now question the need to commute to an office when Virtual Rooms are deployed. Selling in Virtual Rooms is not a tough sell when one of the massive benefits is less commuting, often in peak times, and often in the employees time.
4. Cut Travel
Virtual Meeting Rooms allow you to genuinely challenge Business Travel as they enable you to connect face to face for meetings from any device or platform. This is a huge tonic for your IT team who in the past we asked to connect to suppliers and customers, auditors, accountants, contractors or suppliers, who could have anything.
In the past armed with either Video equipment that didn't scale or Skype for Business or Hangouts that are communication silos you could not question travel costs, with a genuine alternative. Now an alternative exists that can connect to anything someone may have invested in, you can!
What does that look like to those who have bought Skype for Business? The Microsoft evolution graph below shows you the different stages of Skype For Business collaboration maturity.
Those that have used the tool, Skype for Business for communication internally (team connectivity) and those that federated (whitelisted) other Skype for Business users so they could interconnect (siloed collaboration) are in number, 95% of Microsoft Skype for Business users. However, unless they used Virtual Meeting Rooms to cross over to True Collaboration, they didn't make a dent in the external Business Travel between their own employees and customers, suppliers, partners etc.
So as a Finance Director are you on the left or the right?
5. Cloud not On Premise
Virtual Meeting Rooms can be deployed in the Cloud as well as on premise so for the Finance Director and IT Director who want to shift as much to the cloud as they can, then Virtual Meeting Rooms offer a host of Cloud efficiencies we are not going to go into here as most C Suite executives are now familiar and comfortable with them, even the Banks! The key is the IT administration burden is removed completely and the accountability for performance passed directly to the supplier.
6. Business unit expense
As a cost though these Virtual Rooms can be budgeted against the business units that use them and have no need to sit in the IT budget just as Travel and Meeting expenses don't. Again a paradigm shift that puts costs where the activity or benefit are being derived.
7. Faster decisions
The Wainhouse Research point to the ability to get input into discussion and decisions fast as a 2nd tier benefit of Virtual Meeting Rooms, that's not to be underestimated. The key is being able to meet Face to Face, see images which get understood 60,000 times faster than words and get recorded in the long term memory means people get concepts faster. Crucially research has also shown up to 55% of a meetings message is body language and therefore the ability to see reactions, sense body language removes the need for the emotional Intelligence argument that is oft proffered as "I need to see the white of their eyes" argument for travelling to the meeting.
8. Better decisions
As well as acquiring faster input to decisions and therefore quicker decisions the research also points to a number of reasons why we make better business decisions using visual communication. The easiest to grasp is you can get disperate people together very quickly and therefore get their undivided attention and views. That ability to therefore get objective fast input and form a balanced 360 degree view of an issue or idea is crucial to making better decisions.
9. Consolidation of vendors
Many companies today have a vendor for audio conferencing or web based content sharing, Skype for Business or Google Hangouts and there is no need to have so many different solutions for communicating. We have seen numerous companies who have consolidated their suppliers into a core solution Skype for Business for example and then a "connect to any device or platform" Virtual Meeting Room. Firstly, supplier rationalisation has many proven benefits but the shift to face to face meetings either physical or virtual presents the opportunity to have just two suppliers rather than 3/4 or many more.
10. Tactical Cost reduction
There are many opportunities to cut costs tactically around the organisation using virtual meeting rooms so we'll list a few common ones we have seen to make the point as to how varied and abundant the opportunities are.
a) Cut hiring timescales and costs - there is no need to have interviewees attend the office to be interviewed when you can interview online and record the meeting.
firstly, you save time on interviewing as you will get to candidates faster, cutting "vacancy to started" times and therefore HR management resource spent on hiring. Secondly you can cut any compensation cost out of what would have been used during the hiring process.
b) Employee Retention - mobile working and Virtual Meeting Room policies have been proven to cut staff turnover as the Virtual Meeting Room removes the distance and disconnect some remote employees suffer and at the same time gives them a better standard of working life, less commuting, less downtime travelling, less stress commuting plus the opportunity to engage with their team and organisation easier.
c) Digital Marketing Costs - its very easy to farm practical content from Virtual Meeting Room recordings and use these for or as part of website, landing page or Blog strategies. The modern society prefers to learn by watching videos and Google feeds video and Images into search results. However you can cut Pay per Click (PPC) Google advertising budgets by producing better video content in your digital strategy, therefore improving Google Search Rankings without spending anything on PPC.
d) Studio cost - The team brief or CEO Podcast need no longer involve hours in an expensive Studio cost hundreds or thousands for that polished interview. Simply Stream your virtual meeting to a webcasting service or YouTube and cut the content into what you want.
e) Case Studies - No more Lifeless quotes from customers with a paragraph and photo on the website, shot a short video with your virtual meeting room and the recording feature.
This blog was designed to feed the finance team with ideas as to why they should support and promote Virtual Meetings as part of their contribution to improving the cost base and working environment in their organisation.