Create value in uncertain times.
The Conference Board CEO Challenge® 2013 survey asked business leaders around the world to identify their most critical challenges for the coming year. The top four? Human Capital, Operational Excellence, Innovation, and Customer Relationships.
More interestingly, reviewing the leaders’ plans to address these challenges uncovered a common thread—in every single one, increasing engagement was crucial.
Clearly, engagement—with employees, customers, and partners—is critical to business success. And yet Gallup's "State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012" report found that employee engagement among U.S. workers is stagnant at an astonishingly low 30%.
While many factors contribute to this number, one underlying issue is undeniable—one third of global workers are mobile, and distance has become the enemy of engagement.
Luckily, defying distance is now easier than ever. Video collaboration is especially effective because it brings people face to face to get things done without the cost and wasted time of travel.
A December 2012 Wainhouse Research survey of video conferencing users found that video collaboration is working because of its jump from conference rooms to PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. Of the respondents who work remotely, 87% agree that video conferencing removes that "disconnected" feeling.
Below you will find ways video collaboration can help you achieve more successful business outcomes—from growth to business value, cost reduction, and team building.
As organizations grow, their ability to communicate and collaborate must grow, too, or the organization will fragment and stagnate.
The Bajaj Group, one of India's top 10 business conglomerates, provides an example. Employing over 15,000 people across India, the group has diverse interests ranging from power generation to fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) to coal mining to sugar manufacturing to ethanol production to real estate. The company is implementing power plants across six remote locations in India, some 1,500 km from the corporate headquarters. Communication obstacles led to execution challenges. Polycom fixed that.
"Polycom's range of video solutions provide the high-definition quality, multi-party, face-to-face meeting experience we require to aid project-related and corporate-level discussions, making it easier for us to reach out to our remote sites, or to be reached instantly, regardless of location," says Kushagra Nayan Bajaj, Vice Chairman, Bajaj Group. "Although widely used in our energy business, video collaboration is gaining more acceptance in other parts of the organization too such as in our sugar, coal mining, and real estate divisions."
The same is true of LOTOS Capital Group, which keeps finding additional use cases for Polycom collaboration solutions as the company grows. The company consists of production, trade, and service companies in the business of exploration, production, and processing of hydrocarbons and the distribution of petroleum products, with offices throughout Poland and abroad.
Video not only speeds up but also improves the decision-making process amongst the complex parts of the conglomerate. LOTOS was able to create segment management groups, where separate businesses are managed across the group by a designated member of the board. Each area of the business is now better managed and controlled with regular scheduled reviews done via Polycom video collaboration solutions. The company now conducts board meetings as well as accounting and controlling team meetings via Polycom video, and board members can also use Microsoft Lync to dial into the conference from wherever they may be.
In short, as companies grow, video collaboration is an essential enterprise system to help them run more efficiently and productively.
CEOs drive business value by setting a clear strategic direction and then engaging every employee with the commitment to drive toward that strategic vision. This can be incredibly powerful. As Patrick Lencioni wrote in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable": "If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time."
The key is clarity. Consider NATO, for example, with its multiplicity of countries, cultures, and languages. "Accurate and clear communication is essential when representatives from 28 different countries and cultures are weighing issues central to their collective defense, yet those communications must be trusted and reliable to mitigate the security risks posed by new ways of working," says Gus Mommers, Center Head, Conference Management Services at the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency.
That is why NATO chose Polycom. "NATO's work requires cooperation and collaboration, so the ability to meet face-to-face anywhere, anytime is a strategic advantage," said Mark Escobar, SAIC Department of Defense Agencies and Commands Group senior vice president.
One of the challenges in communicating clearly to workers and partners in the globalized workplace is the distance that separates team members.
For example, CJ Group in South Korea, a global lifestyle company spanning food and food service, biotechnology, pharmaceutics, entertainment and media, home shopping, and logistics, has over 26 offices located across Korea and 76 additional offices worldwide.
But Polycom RealPresence Mobile keeps everyone connected and collaborating visually no matter where they are. Executives hold regular research/production meetings via video among headquarters, research centers, and production sites and monthly management meetings among key executives in Korea and the heads of branch offices abroad (Southeast Asia, North America, and China).
> This has reduced costs for business trips by about 25%, saving US$2.6 billion annually.
The greater the distances an organization spans and the more complex its business, the greater the need for Polycom collaboration solutions.
"The longstanding misconception is that travel reduction is the only 'real' driver of video conferencing," says Ira M. Weinstein, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research, which published its "End-User Survey: The 'Real' Benefits of Video" in March 2013. "This survey, however, shows that soft benefits including improved efficiency and productivity and increased impact during discussions play a prominent role in the video conferencing value proposition."
In fact, the survey found that the top benefits of video conferencing included several benefits ranked higher by users than travel savings:
- 94% Increased efficiency/productivity
- 88% Increased impact of discussions
- 87% Expedited decision making
- 87% Reduced travel costs
Distance is the enemy of distributed organizations, and using video collaboration solutions to defy distance can lead to substantial savings incurred by travel costs, but that is just the beginning of the value proposition.
"Our company's global demand for instant communication across distances, particularly between R&D teams to make decisions quickly, meant that we required more effective and efficient ways to collaborate," says Atanu Roy, Chief Technical Officer of Dr. Reddy's, an India-based global pharmaceutical company. "For our executive team in particular, video collaboration has enabled a new way of conducting business without the need for frequent travel across large distances. This in itself has not only helped us achieve significant savings in time and travel cost, but also establish a better work-life balance."
In addition to saving money and improving work-life balance, video collaboration is simply essential today to keep large distributed organizations operating with a high degree of efficiency.
For example, UK-based engineering firm Buro Happold has engineers based in multiple locations involved in a wide range of design and construction projects from hospitals and living spaces to commercial developments.
> With over 90% of staff now video-enabled, the firm is gaining an additional 3,000 hours per month in productivity and saving as much as £3 million annually in travel costs from video collaboration.
"At most companies, people spend 2% of their time recruiting and 75% managing their recruiting mistakes."
Setting strategy and vision and executing superbly against them are difficult things to do. But even more difficult is managing people. A CEO's success depends on acquiring top talents and helping to make them as effective as possible. There is no competitive advantage more competitive or advantageous than a tight team of top talents.
CEOs know this, of course, and that is why The Conference Board CEO Challenge® 2013 survey, which asks CEOs, presidents, and chairmen across the globe to identify their most critical challenges for the coming year, ranked Human Capital as their top challenge, ahead of Operational Excellence, Innovation, Customer Relationships, and Global Political/Economic Risk.
And yet, many CEOs do not invest the required time into this effort. So, what tends to happen are fire drills to staff open positions, rather than strategic recruiting and retention as part of the company's growth strategy and succession planning.
Recruiting and retention go hand in hand. Just as recruiting should be continuous, retention should be pervasive, reflected in a strong training and learning culture. In fact, Bersin & Associates found that organizations with a strong learning culture are 92% more likely to devise novel products and services, 56% more likely to be first in market, and 53% improved at responding to customer needs.
And they're more likely to continue to grow as well. For example, Linklaters, one of the world's largest law firms, found that its rapid growth was being stifled by technology limitations that impeded its ability to develop and disseminate training to 6,000 employees across 28 countries. Global demand for the training team's services had outstripped their ability to deliver.
Polycom video collaboration solutions helped revolutionize training for Linklaters, increasing the training team's output tenfold, expanding the number of materials produced from two each month to two every day.
"Polycom is an all-encompassing technology that allows the training organization to create and publish and manage reporting features—from start to finish," says Neil Thomas, Strategy Consultant for Linklaters. "And since it's simple to use, it lowers administrative costs since IT doesn't have to look after the publishing of all presentations."