Is Video Conferencing being used effectively for Board activities?
2 decades ago, video conferencing was being touted as the answer to holding meetings for people with busy travel schedules and global operations. While I have seen definite success at many levels, I have not seen much use of VC for Board Meetings other than as a broadcast tool. It seems to me that companies still schedule Board Meetings around members schedules, or members are expected to adjust their schedule to the Board Meeting, and there is not a general acceptance to host VC for members not physically present. Am I correct or am I just not exposed to any companies who make physical attendance optional?
Video conferencing IS A VERY IMPORTANT THING but it does not fully replace travel for business. Video technology vendors used to tell businesses that video conferencing would help eliminate travel expenses and reimbursements by allowing users to communicate face-to-face without actually being there. While that may be technically true, business relationships don’t really work that way in practice. The video replacing travel myth was a simplistic way to help early adopters quantify the value and advantages of video conferencing.
You can’t really replace travel for face to face communication. If you could, cell phones, email, digital cameras, computers, and the internet would have all reduced travel drastically by now. Travel is the ultimate way to connect, and that will probably never change, especially for business.
The most important reason that travel is irreplaceable is that a typical business trip is not only about meetings, but spending time in the other company’s environment and getting to know the employees on a deeper level. All road warriors know that it is often the happy hours, factory tours, and business lunches where deals are made. This is particularly true when you are looking to impress clients or get to core issues of business process.
Consulting firms that have implemented expensive telepresence rooms often start to max out around a 10-20% reduction in business travel. While this number could represent significant cost savings, and a return on your technology investment, it far from eliminates your travel budget. If business trips started and stopped in the conference room, telepresence would have wiped out travel completely. The truth is, spending time in someone’s office, taking coffee breaks together, and asking about the pictures on their desk help create a deeper bond and show dedication.
VC is very useful to schedule recurrent meetings with persons from all over the world. However it is sometime useful to have in person meetings too. What you could set up during a dinner or a coffee break could have a more important impact than 10 VCs scheduled during a year. Set up and implement in person relationships is something that VC can’t do