On Wednesday I joined, as a panelist, a live debate on whether web and video conferencing could help the public sector save money.
Public sector cuts are, as we all know, high on the political agenda, and only last month the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, published online details of all his department’s spending over £500. Over £1.5m was spent on travel and hotel accommodation including £635,000 on taxis and cars. For me, web and video conferencing can make a real dent in these costs.
Appropriately, the debate was broadcast live on the web using Adobe Connect, Adobe’s web conferencing technology. We ran a number of live audience polls during the event which showed broad belief that web conferencing could help the public sector cut travel costs (92% said yes), training costs (100%) and carbon emissions (100%). Perhaps more tellingly, less than 10% cited cost as the main obstacle to wider adoption but 75% cited cultural issues.
Best practice advice from the panelists for obtaining end-user buy in for adopting web conferencing was as follows:
Joel Smith, Head of IS at The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), the key was making the adoption of video conferencing over the web an evolution not a revolution:
- FERA started with an audio conference and presenter controlled slides
- Then moved users on to an audio conference and shared workspace where they could work on the same document together
- Before moving to full video conferencing
Andy Jones, Senior Learning Consultant at Thomson Reuters it has been a focus on ensuring a great first time experience of web and video conferencing for new users, whether it’s eLearning or a virtual team meeting, by:
- Training presenters, team leaders and trainers on how best to use web / video conferencing
- Keeping sessions short initially
- Providing an interactive experience for learning that includes live questions and virtual break out rooms
- Making sure whoever is leading a session takes time to plan it properly
From my perspective I’d add two further points:
- The importance of finding an internal champion to evangelise and encourage use of web and video conferencing
- The need to continually measure the benefits of web and video conferencing to the organisation. Highlighting the travel costs saved, the carbon emissions avoided and, most importantly, the levels of engagement and satisfaction among employees. There’s a great plug-in for Adobe Connect called Footprints that can help.
We covered a lot of really interesting areas during the debate, from costs and return on investment examples to deployment options, I’ll post more details in due course along with a link to replay of the debate, but in the meantime I’m interested to hear what you think.
Will Cawthorne, Connect Evangelist, Adobe UK