July 18, 2013, 6:59 PM — I didn't know at first if I should be amused or enthused when I read a report about a bill introduced in the House that would aim to cut government travel expenses by mandating videoconferencing. Legislated mobile collaboration? Well, that's one way to get workers to accept the future!
Seriously, I understand that government agencies sometimes move slower than businesses, given their need to act carefully and their purpose of being tied to legacy services. But it's kind of hilarious to think that you need to pass laws to enforce the kind of behavior that has taken off in the greater business world simply because it makes a lot of sense. Though we'll never fully replace the need for all business travel, the rise of low-cost, easy to use videoconferencing platforms (fueled in no small part by the parallel rise in ownership of powerful mobile devices that have decent screen size) is a no-brainer for many vertical market segments, replacing a lot of the mundane face-to-face meetings with quick, efficient video calls that can take place in a much more impromptu fashion.
Did anyone at your company need to mandate video conferencing use, or did people just simply start using it? Though my guess is that in some cases there were edicts issued from cost-control centers, to me it's the convenience and ease of faster collaboration that makes videoconferencing a big plus. My wonder is, though, if it really cuts from the travel budget bottom line; though video may eliminate the need for some travel, it might also free people up to spend more quality time with customers, partners and other potential high-value contacts who are best seen face to face.
Final thought: videoconferencing shouldn't be simply looked at as a way to save the cost of a plane ticket. It's even dumber to think that passing a law to mandate it as so makes sense. Really, isn't there something better for lawmakers to be spending their time worrying about?
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