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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 8, 2009
Technology
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Face to Face Across the Miles
April 8, 2009   
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More than just a fad, videoconferencing means considerable savings for companies.

Videoconferences nowadays offer more than virtual face-to-face meetings, enabling their participants to share equipment normally used in conference rooms, such as laptops, digital cameras, and DVD players as well as paper documents. In this way, remote Power Point presentations and training sessions can be conducted in the same way as always-it's just that they can reach hundreds of people at a time.

Most systems available today communicate via IP networks, which ensures comprehensive and synchronized multimedia work of dispersed task forces. State-of-the-art data compression technologies from the Polycom company, which is a leading player on the market for tele- and videoconferencing, provide simultaneous, two-directional transmission of CD-quality, stereo sound and high-definition picture (720p, 30 fps) as well as additional materials such as data from a portable computer, digital photos, letters, and DVD movies (two picture streams thanks to H.239).

Economical and simple
Prices of videoconference equipment enabling multimedia communication start from $3,000-4,000. This is the cost of the latest QDX 6000 system from Polycom, the best product available in this standard to ensure high picture quality even when it uses broadband connection with a bandwidth below 256 kbps. The system is also simple and easy to use. More elaborate terminals, capable of handling HD video systems, cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Some companies are worried that videoconferencing is extremely expensive, but they could not be more wrong. For two mid-range systems used twice a week on average, the investment pays back for itself in less than a year. Hundreds of companies around the world use Polycom telepresence solutions. In Poland, these include BRE Bank, Bank Millennium, PKN Orlen, Era, Bank Zachodni, Bank BG¯, and the Institute of Hearing Physiology and Pathology.

Benefits for companies
Cost reductions are the primary advantage. Videoconferencing can significantly cut the operating costs for companies. Such savings are usually viewed from the angle of business trips and direct expenses such as airfares, accommodation, and business trip allowances. Few stop to think that the greatest cost is tied to the absence of the best-paid managerial staff and top-caliber professionals. Remote consulting is much cheaper than a business trip.

Second, videoconferencing saves time. With a videoconference system, you can instantaneously set up a connection between offices far apart from one another. Ad hoc meetings markedly reduce the time of decision-making processes. An hour's meeting really takes an hour only.

Finally, videoconferencing means better efficiency. The time of top-caliber professionals and managerial staff is extremely precious. Videocon-ference technologies radically improve the efficiency of such people by minimizing the time they spend unproductively in travel. In this way, a specialist can have several meetings a day.

Polycom was established in 1990 in California in the United States. It is now a leading provider of what are called unified communications solutions. The company produces portable and fixed telepresence systems for voice and high-definition picture transmission. Polycom operates in most countries of the world and has 2,600 staff. The company entered the New York Stock Exchange in 1996. In Poland, Polycom has for years been known as a producer of high-end conference telephones.

Ewa Andrzejczak
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