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Published on February 9th, 2009 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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Webconferencing: A Green Recession Tactic

Last week the New York Times reported that “Travel Goes the Way of the Dodo at Cisco,” noting that Cisco CEO John Chambers told analysts that the company had saved a lot of money during difficult times by cutting back on travel and increasing web conferencing.  Sadly, Chambers didn’t mention that web conferencing is an excellent greening strategy for small businesses. Its a silver lining that the bad economy has led companies to consider alternatives to travel such as web conferencing and teleconferencing.

In fact, if every small business owner in the United States conducted one teleconference in lieu of a domestic business trip, it would save $25.4 billion dollars in travel expenses and 10.5 million tons of C02 in just one year.

If you are interested in web conferencing there are lots of resources on the Internet. You can start with C-Net software reviews. Kolabora is an essential web conferencing resource for those stepping into the field for the first time. ConferZone is good for guidance on web conferencing including terminology, questions to ask when deciding on a web conferencing solution site and the latest web conferencing research. Thinkofit offers a guide to web conferencing services and solutions including topics such as real-time conferencing, collaborative work environments, and book recommendations. Webseminarian provides a comprehensive guide to web conferencing news, reviews, and opinions.

Of course, Cisco stands to gain from the growth in web conferencing.  They sell both WebEx Web Conferencing SasS software and the routers and switches necessary to handle the network traffic. But there are other providers worth looking at. Adobe Acrobat Connect, GoToMeeting by Citrix, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Webconferencing.com are all worth a look.

Webconferencing has long been (well, as long as its been around) one of those easy to sell greening strategies: it offers real cost savings along with the carbon avoidance. It goes without saying that business travel consumes energy and generates waste. In fact, airplane travel, lodging and rental car usage can consume almost 1/4 of a business’ carbon footprint and as much as 3% of its revenue. It makes sense for companies to ask themselves before traveling whether they can accomplish their purposes without a face-to-face meeting? The answer is often yes.

Photo: WiredRed.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



  • http://www.messageimpact.com Dave Roitner

    I’ve been a huge fan of Audio and Web Conferencing for many years. It almost seems strange that it took a recession to get some companies to move forward on this time saving, green technology.

  • http://www.ilinc.com Christine Olivas

    I’d like to add iLinc Web & Video Conferencing to that list of providers. Our Green Meter (www.ilinc.com/greenmeter) is built into our web conferencing interface and measures the CO2 emissions avoided (in addition to the money saved) by meeting online rather than in person. Additionally, our unlimited multi-person video adds a real face-to-face component to online meetings.

  • http://www.greenhance.com Jennifer Kaplan

    Thanks, Dave, I agree!

    &

    Thanks, Christine. Looks like a good service!

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  • http://www.yugma.com Rebecca

    I recommend that people also take a look at Yugma. (www.yugma.com) Yugma provides free unlimited desktop sharing with up to 20 others. Also, during the first 15 days after signing up, you will be able test drive the Professional version of Yugma and if you like the Professional features, we have monthly plans that start at just $14.95/month. Registering and downloading the software takes only a few moments, and we have a no download option available for attendees, so you can be up and running is just a few minutes! If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you (email to: info@yugma.com). Many thanks!

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  • Brian

    That is a GREAT post on conferencing, which is really gaining speed in the market. I can recommend a great conferencing guide for newbees to use when figuring out how to get started. The “Quick Start Guide for Web Conferencing”, which I got on Amazon.com, got me up and running in about 25 minutes:

    http://www.amazon.com/Web-Conferencing-Quick-Start-Guide/dp/1448649781/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250795732&sr=8-1

    I read that the http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com had a non-technical relative of equipped with a a Dell E6400 with Windows XP, complete with built-in camera & microphone test this book to see if it was truly a quick start. This relative was able to start a multi-point meeting in 17 minutes, was able to share her desktop and present an online presentation (Microsoft PowerPoint) in under 25 minutes, and even started using the voting and whiteboarding features within 30 minutes – all of it witnessed but uncoached. I was a little bit faster but I am more technical than most.

  • http://www.greenhance.com Jennifer Kaplan

    Thanks for the links Brian!

  • Michael Clark

    Very good article. Web conferencing definitely contributes in greener revolution as it saves travel time because of which companies can cut both the cost and the nasty carbon emissions bill associated with such journeys. Hence, most of the businesses are now extensively using web-video conferencing combined services such as WebEx, gomeetnow, gotomeeting etc. or deploying on premise web-video conferencing appliance such as RHUB appliances in order to save earth from global warming.

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