With the cuurent downturn in the world’s economy, small to medium size businesses (SMBs) are cutting their travel budgets significantly. Some businesses have eliminated their travel budgets altogether simply because they can’t afford it. And with the elimination of travel budgets, the use of videoconferencing for business meetings has become a more viable option.
Video conferencing involves a meeting between two or more participants from different sites, using computer networks in order to transmit audio and video data.
In its simplest form, a point-to-point (or two-person) videoconferencing system works much like a video telephone, where each participant has a video camera, microphone, and speakers on his or her computer. As the two participants speak to one another, their voices and images are transmitted over the Internet and delivered to the other’s speakers and computer monitors.
For several years, videoconferencing has drawn a lot of attention for those looking to save money. As early as 1990, for example, Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey started using videoconferencing meetings. Today, the company believes that videoconferencing delivers a great deal of value to the organization.
Mark Lamon, director of informatics at Bristol-Myers said, “The market morphed from being a very specialized high-priced end unit to be more of an appliance situation. With most things in technology it is becoming more, better, faster, and cheaper.”
Other big companies like GE Power Systems started using videoconferencing systems in the 1990s. Mike McGary, global communications leader for GE said, “Videoconferencing started out with huge, unwieldy, complicated systems. People didn’t understand them; it was a big mystery. Now the systems are becoming much easier to use and manage, and have lost that mystery about them.”