Why don’t we do this kind of thing more often?

January 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm 9 comments

I took part in a 3 hour videocon with colleagues in Lahore and Islamabad today. It went ahead without a glitch without each one of us having to leave our own cities. We had an interactive discussion, took notes, had lunch, coffee. And all this without spending money on airfares or hotel accommodation or wasting time at airports.

Why is it that we do not do more of this? Why don’t we use existing technologies to save ourselves time and money and the hassle of leaving our families and our home base? Why do we insist on catching flights at unearthly hours, tire ourselves out just so we can have a discourse with someone in another city?

Okay so today’s setup was extremely sophisticated (thanks to Ovex Technologies) but even if we didn’t have all this, we could have used Skype just as effectively to have our meeting, couldn’t we? So why do we refrain from doing it? Aren’t we interested in cost-reducing, time-saving measures?

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fariha Akhtar  |  January 21, 2009 at 12:14 am

    “Why is it that we do not do more of this?” – great question and I’ll be really looking forward to see the answers 🙂
    I have also experienced something similar. At my very first office I remember working through VPN whenever there’s unrest in the city or something alike. It gave me an opportunity to stay at home and work to meet deadlines at the same time. But I do not see this being used too often at any other place. Even though I believe that working through VPN and staying in touch with your team members is A LOT better than doing late sittings and spending days’n’nights at offices or putting your life at stake while traveling to office during any event of unrest or missing deadlines by taking complete day(s) off.
    It also gives you a chance to stay a little closer to your family while putting in extra working hours.

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  • 3. Faisal Khan  |  January 21, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Availability and accessibility is the key. Not everyone has access to it readily. Those who have it – don’t share.

  • 4. Momekh  |  January 21, 2009 at 2:10 am

    It is like trying to explain the sunrise with the birds and the fresh air to someone who have never stepped out at the early hours… no one ‘gets it’ unless he or she goes through it.

    I wonder what you mean when you say ‘extremely sophisticated’ … either it works or it doesn’t … how did Ovex make it sophisticated?

  • 5. Jehan  |  January 21, 2009 at 4:12 am

    @Faisal, agreed but what about just using skype or the PTCL telecon solution? That doesn’t require much effort and no cost at all. We tried the PTCL teleconferencing solution a few weeks ago and it worked very well. Having said that, it doesn’t always work that well.

    @Momekh I guess you are right – I actually didn’t realize how effective it could be until i tried it. So now I “get it”. What I meant my sophisticated was that it is an actual videoconferencing solution rather than using Sype etc.

  • 6. farhan  |  January 21, 2009 at 11:39 am

    It’s great to do video conferencing to reduce travel costs and reduce the carbon footprint. But sometimes (not all the times) being in person has a totally different effect than talking on webcam. It creates a sort of strong bond between the meeters, and for the case of sales presenatations, I believe being in person at the client site would leave a much better impression.

  • 7. Vic  |  January 21, 2009 at 11:53 am

    @Faisal: Your comment appears to indicate that there is some kind of selfishness involved in the ‘not sharing’, and no doubt in some cases that may be entirely true. Cases where the dedicated setup is in a private conference room, for instance, or where the connectivity contract specifically disallows public usage or third party rentals.

    However, with current improvements in the technology, there is little reason not to make a beginning in our individual capacities, thus reducing the stress of travel, on ourselves, and stepping up the frequency of interaction.

    Of course, there will always be a need for larger meetings, and perhaps there is a business need for suitably located public videoconferencing centers, created for the purpose, that can double up as public cybercenters the rest of the time (using movable partitions and furniture).

  • 8. Faisal Khan  |  January 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Vikram Sb: That is true. A good setup costs money. Typically a Polycom setup for a decent conference of say 5-6 people per location would cost about US$ 10,000 with the ancillary setup. Those who have invested in this see no reason why they need to make it into a commercial operation. We do not at present have any such facilities in abundance where one can walk in and use them. Sure a few exist, but there is always some trimming that prevents it from being a true experience.

    @Momekh: Its the hardware that makes the whole experience “better” and the amount of bandwidth / latency you throw at it. Between an entry level system and a top-notch system – which is quite complicated to implement (setup – latency delays, jitter corrections, frame revision, etc.) the difference between the two is as stark as day and night.

    Besides, video conferencing is not about virtual vs. the true experience. I understand what you are trying to portray, but also understand what Jehan is trying to say:
    – The experience was great
    – We need more such facilities here

  • 9. MystaKool  |  January 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    In my previous company, we used to hold video conferences quite frequently with our clients, via VOIP phones for a group session with a camera as well. For daily or very frequent sessions, Skype was the obvious choice. I still use Skype as a voice solution for any communication I need to get done, usually at home via Maxcom, and it works great.

    Technology provides us way too many tools which we can use, and most often they can be used at fairly minimal costs. I personally believe that going digital makes more business sense. However, at times, and for certain purposes, a one-on-one is obviously the better solution.


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