Video-conferencing will replace more and more corporate travel in the near future, according to Regus' Simon Hunt, speaking at a breakout session at April's annual ITM conference.
The product director for the serviced office and video-conferencing provider said video will become more of an alternative to travel, with more meetings being done remotely. He said he expects a large increase in the use of video-conferencing in the next four or five months, as the technology and accessibility improves. The advent of HD had changed people's perceptions of telepresence, he said, adding: "You can feel like you're taking part in a meeting without actually being there." Hunt also said telepresence technology may soon be bookable through Microsoft Outlook, via an externally supplied plug-in, which would make a dramatic difference to the ease of booking.
Citing Ikea as an example, Hunt spoke about the benefits of telepresence over face-to-face meetings. Ikea had cut travel two years running, by increasing the use of video-conferencing. Hunt said employees enjoyed getting their life back, as they were not having to travel long distances, and the company had enjoyed a cost reduction. However, the cost of video was still a challenge, said Hunt, as is connecting between network providers.
Also speaking at the session was GetThere's head of business development EMEA, Guy Snelgar, who said the travel technology firm is working on a new online booking tool, which prompts travellers to consider using telepresence instead of travelling at the point of booking. Snelgar said the first version of the tool would be available by the end of 2011.