Videoconferencing is a powerful technological solution--so powerful that sometimes we get so excited about the technology, we forget that we're supposed to use it to solve problems. Here is a four-pack of videotechnology applications to get your creative juices flowing:
1. Watching Babies Look through the glass into the neonatal intensive care unit at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Observe the care lavished on the tiny patients by the nurses and physicians. Then look again. It isn't a window, but a monitor on a PC equipped for videoconferencing. This hospital, with the support of the National Institutes of Health, has deployed PictureTel units in the NICU, with far-end devices in parents' homes. The program will evaluate the technology's ability to improve care, and reduce costs and length of stay for newborns in the unit. The system also helps parents manage their lives while dealing with the trauma of a hospitalized infant, and allows them to consult with doctors over a dial-up video link.
2. Letting the Customer Speak For their worldwide sales conference in New York City last year, ITT Sheraton managers wanted to include the voice of the customer in the program. The challenge arose in how to make it meaningful to sales and marketing personnel from 70 countries. The solution was a global videoconference with customers from Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Milan, and Washington, D.C. From around the world, customers spoke to the 2,100 sales executives gathered at Madison Square Garden about what the customer/supplier relationship meant to them. The outcome was a memorable shared experience for the sales force.
3. Meeting the New Boss After Oslo, Norway-based Tandberg acquired NuVision Technologies, a Carrolton, Texas-based videoconferencing supplier, NuVision executives wanted the sales team to understand that they were a part of a global enterprise doing wonderful things in many businesses. They scheduled the chairman of Tandberg, Jan Opsahl, to address the sales conference via ISDN video. This may be routine stuff for a videoconferencing equipment company, but its impact was anything but. "It put a face to the corporate name. The parent company has a human side and we got to meet him," noted Sam Lorimar, director of sales for NuVision.
4. Rockin' All Over the World HMV, a global music retailer known for massive stores and painfully hip aura, wanted something fresh and unique to celebrate the simultaneous opening of new stores in Sydney, Singapore, and New York. They hired a rock band in Toronto, but instead of funding a tour, they broadcast a live "No Doubt" concert to the three new stores. Record buyers in each store could talk to the band, observe backstage activity, and ask questions. This interactive rock concert on three continents was a world's first. More importantly, the application was completely consistent with HMV's corporate image.
More Ideas All of these applications work because they are consistent with the intent of the meeting and the culture of the company. Some additional, real-life ideas:
Meeting Insurance--Did bad weather keep your keynote speaker grounded? Video in.
Town Meeting--Put your execs on stage and let the field personnel ask what's really going on.
Virtual Booth Staff--Bring a rollabout video unit to awith one or two people and have a couple more staff the floor via video.