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BrightCom Telepresence: A High-Tech Option to Rising Gas Prices


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July 29, 2009

BrightCom Telepresence: A High-Tech Option to Rising Gas Prices

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Officials from a Huntington Beach, Calif-based provider of integrated video conferencing and telepresence solutions said companies are bringing the technology to more board rooms in the wake of rising gas prices.
BrightCom officials said they have seen an uptick in the number of clients implementing telepresence and video conferencing technology, that simulates face-to-face meetings. One reason clients cite for an increase in implementation is increasing fuel costs. The solution uses a group of technologies, including HD audio, HD video cameras, Web based software and immersive environmental furnishing to create the feeling that people are in the same room when, in reality, they could be hundreds of miles away.

Gas prices this week jumped to a new national average of $2.50 a gallon, according to auto club AAA’s online Fuel Gauge Report. While a gallon of gas is far cheaper than the national average of more than $4.02 one year ago, businesses are looking more at telepresence and video conferencing solutions to cuts costs on fuel and travel expenses in anticipation that prices may rise in the future.
Analysts reportedly said that gas prices should be lower, according to The Associated Press. They speculate that the rise in gas prices is the result of the belief that a number of positive earnings reports from major corporations hint at a coming rebound in demand from consumers, the AP said.
As companies increase their global reach, and gas prices creep back up to record highs, telepresence promises to slash travel costs while improving productivity, BrightCom said.
“As we have experienced in the past few years, travel costs vary greatly based on the cost of fuel,” BrightCom CEO Bob McCandless told TMCnet in an interview. “As fuel prices rise, travel costs can double or triple in a short time frame. Reducing employee travel by leveraging telepresence for face-to-face meetings lowers travel costs, but also has the benefits that employees meet more often and communicate better when they feel as if they are in the same room without the cost and strife associated with travel.”
According to company’s estimates, a business could cut their travel budgets by half or more by utilizing telepresence, considering the price of gas, rather than traveling to meetings.
“There is no doubt that a well thought out, well implemented telepresence strategy can save almost any firm thousands of dollars on travel costs,” McCandless said.
But there are other benefits, too.
“The real benefit of telepresence is the increase of communication, the more personal relationships, and the faster, better, more informed decisions that employees will make when they meet more often, face to face, with the best video and data communication tools available,” McCandless said.
And for companies with multiple locations that require employees to travel from location to location, telepresence is a good solution, he said.
For example, First California Bank wanted to cut back on the numerous hours employees spent traveling to branch meetings in Southern California. So, it turned to BrightCom for a solution. The answer came in the form of BrightCom’s Visual Collaboration System, a single network appliance that acts as the backbone of BrightCom’s telepresence solutions providing complete Web conferencing capabilities and video call management. 
BrightCom rolled out the ClearView Video Conference System in several offices, which gave the bank the chance to hold meetings with the other offices with a click of a button. Since the solution was deployed, First California Bank dramatically reduced the need for employees to travel for meetings at a fraction of the cost of traditional web and video conference solutions, BrightCom said. In addition, the system helped bank officials limit travel and increase productivity and collaboration between offices. BrightCom’s conferencing and telepresence solutions range from no cost to a few hundred dollars per location up to tens of thousands of dollars per location for a telepresence suite. The varying costs depend on the level of the immersive experience clients want and the deployment scenario customers want to achieve.

"Having meetings between management and staff at mulitple locations keeps all levels of the company educated and informed on company issues, direction and policies," McCandless said. "Greater communication equates to higher employee satsifaction and better productivity. Telepresence (News - Alert) allows questions to be askked, understood and answered in real time with great comprehension and understanding than telephne conference calls or Web conferences while building personal relationships that are critical to business success."
For example, a low-cost desktop conferencing solution for a mobile worker gives users the ability to attend video and data conferences while requiring a small amount of bandwidth. Meanwhile, companies with desktop workers connected to the company’s network may want to spend more and roll out BrightCom’s ClearView PC product, which lets users attend conferences and to broadcast and view other attendees with the DVD quality video and CD quality audio.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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