AT&T Study Finds Fast Telepresence Payback
The study was conducted by analyst research firm Verdantix, which interviewed 15 Global 500 firms using telepresence to determine how much travel was being replaced by telepresence meetings. From there, the firm created a model that took into account the total costs of owning and operating telepresence systems and the benefits of them, including reduced travel costs and increased productivity for a company using four telepresence rooms.
The model shows that a yearly average of 874 trips can be avoided, generating both economic savings and carbon emission reductions, says David Metcalfe of Verdantix. US firms alone could save 4.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2020.
Telepresence represents a significant technology advance on previous videoconferencing technology, Metcalfe says, and thus a model can be built using data from early adopters and applying known frameworks of "innovation diffusion."
"There are other benefits -- it helps businesses run better, faster, smarter," says Dan Walsh, senior vice president of marketing services for AT&T Business Solutions. "They save on carbon emissions but they also see an increased speed in decision making, and there is improvement from an employee productivity perspective, not to mention better balance for work/life."
The overall economic impact -- $15 billion in the US by 2020 and $4 billion in the UK -- is also significant.
Accenture was one of the companies interviewed for the study, and is an aggressive user of telepresence, says Accenture's Sak Nayagam. With 50 telepresence rooms globally, Accenture has seen a reduction in carbon emissions of 6,200 metric tons between November 2007 and August 2009.
The study comes as a number of companies are making a significant push to make videoconferencing in general and telepresence in particular more widely deployable while driving down costs of deployment and promoting interoperability, both between telepresence systems from different manufacturers and between newer telepresence and older videoconferencing systems. (See AT&T Touts Telepresence Interop, Cisco Pushing Telepresence on All Fronts and Polycom Ups Telepresence Ante.)
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading