Greener conferencing

Jean-Matthieu Tilquin, Director of Product Management at Arkadin - Global Conferencing, looks at the ways in which organisations are able to implement conferencing communications solutions

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Conferencing communications is a key business technology for companies of all sizes across all types of industry sectors.  It has come along way over the past few years and, with the worldwide collaboration services market hitting $1 billion for the first time in its history in 2007, key decision-makers in businesses are starting to take notice of a growing demand for this technology that has become increasingly important to board-level executives.

This was not always the case however, as conferencing communication solutions have not historically been high on the list of importance for global corporate executives.  For a number of factors including increasingly important environmental and economical reasons, this has changed.  Analysis from Wainhouse Research backs up the assumption that conferencing communications is on the rise, showing that the European collaboration service provider market grew by 24.1% in Q1 2007 from the previous year.

As an increasing priority for businesses, conferencing communications solutions are making organisations think differently about how they can improve their working lives and also the way in which they can contribute to key environmental issues such as carbon footprints.  Conferencing communications are able to offer businesses unique opportunities when it comes to the environment and it is becoming apparent that the increasing adoption of these types of solutions is helping to support the benefits associated with environmental issues.

As one of the most significant issues in today’s global business community, the evident importance of the environment is seeing a truly global concern to adopt carbon emissions policies.  As a result of this, more and more organisations are doing whatever they can to help reduce their overall carbon footprints and manage their business with a greater respect for their local and global environments.  These organisations are increasingly looking at alternative means of business travel as a way of helping reduce their carbon impact on the environment – greater measures, for example, are being focused on finding substitutes to traveling by car, bus and air travel.

More than just conferencing
The ever-changing conditions of the climate and the resulting effect on the environment is an issue that affects and concerns everyone.  For businesses, the decision should not be if they can help, but how.  From helping to increase productivity, to becoming more carbon efficient, conferencing communications solutions offer organisations a wide variety of business and environmental benefits.

As a global provider of integrated audio and web conferencing services, Arkadin has taken a number of steps to help educate the market on green issues and how business can best help to make a difference.

One approach that Arkadin has found successful has been the launch of its ‘ArkadinAnywhere – Green to be Great’ webinar series.  These sessions have featured leading speakers from across the globe, focusing on topics such as environmentally sound business strategies that are able to positively impact the bottom line.  To date, Arkadin has run two webinars that have featured speakers from HSBC, Rio Tinto, Marks & Spencer and Climate Care.  Each webinar session has attracted a global audience, which helps underline the case that global meetings are easy to create, manage and run, without large groups of people having to fly or drive hundreds of miles to take part.

Arkadin is one of the many organizations that have made a long-term commitment to the environment.  “The introduction of our ‘ArkadinAnywhere – Green to be Great’ web conferences is one example of our overall commitment to be green and also help our customers meet their own environmental and sustainability priorities,” explained Mr. Tilquin.  “The web conferences, which are designed to address many of the issues facing organisations today, will give both CSR and other business executives the opportunity to view a presentation on a highly relevant topic, and also to directly interact with the presenter and the material.”

Furthermore, for the past two years, Arkadin has been running a number of additional environmental programmes – one of which encourages customers to host their own ArkadinClimateCare Day.  The premise of this scheme is, on any specific day chosen by the client, each customer takes part in promoting internally the notion of making conference calls in place of physically traveling for business, which means less pollution and a direct positive impact to the environment.  As part of the scheme, customers not only save money on reduced travel expenses but for every participant, Arkadin donates all billed revenue from the customers’ ArkadinClimateCare Day to the charity Trees for Cities (  This charity tackles global warming, creates social cohesion and beautifies cities in the UK through planting trees and providing education, and training initiatives in urban areas of greatest need.

Adapt or risk losing out
The implication here is not that workers should stop traveling on business altogether, which is still very much a key part in business success.  The key point importantly, is the simple suggestion that there is an alternative, which will provide people with a breath of fresh air from business travel and hopefully….a breath of fresh air!

Businesses of all sizes are looking for ways in which they can contribute to making a positive impact on the environment.  The programmes that Arkadin has in place are just some of the many options on offer from businesses, and as a result of reduced costs on business travel, increasing employee efficiency and also the environment benefits, these types of schemes are beginning to gain global momentum.

The companies that will thrive in the modern business world will be the ones that embrace the introduction of conferencing communications solutions to their organisations and implement technologies and processes that allow all parties to get the most out this way of working.

Realising the commercial and environmental of conferencing: five top tips for business leaders
There are a number of easy ways in which organisations can take advantage of the business and ‘green’ benefits of conferencing and, unlike other types of CSR activity, they do not require a complete rethink of the organisation’s DNA.

1) Apply the Travel Necessity Test. While face-to-face meetings are and will continue to be a great way to make progress, in today’s global economy, people cannot meet as much as they would like. Applying the Travel Necessity Test means insisting that your employees only travel when business needs absolutely demand it.

2) Take a common sense approach to ‘going green’. Little and often should be the watchword when it comes to promoting a greener and kinder organisation and infrastructure. Companies that provide water filtration systems, or even internal recycling initiatives are just as important (and fair less painful) than developing an entire CSR process and policy which takes time. Choosing to adopt simple approaches to green initiatives also allows individual teams and workgroups to carry out their own activities without fear of embargo from CSR teams.

3) Use web conferencing to gauge your business partners’ reaction. In most business dealings, it is important to be able to see the reaction of your partners’ reactions to what you are saying or pitching. A web conference is the next wave of collaborative communication and enables parties to share information and voices across global boundaries.

4) Promote home working. The office is a great place for community, but not always the best place to work. Consider allowing your employees to work at home more often and use readily available web infrastructure to facilitate communication. For example ArkadinAnywhere enables communications partners to share information and speak with each other using a standard browser.

5) Consider your partners carefully. Going down a green route will fail if organizations choose the wrong partners and employees become frustrated.