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Life’s too short to travel to every meeting and the latest technology really makes you feel you are all together.   Three dimensional images can also be created of conference speakers for larger audiences, walking life-size on stage.

How they work

The aim is rapid reduction in proportion of face to face global meetings, while strengthening team relationships at the same time. There are many ways to enable live communication between teams in different locations ranging from a group telephone call, to a videoconference linking one or more sites, to chat screens and so on.  The best quality office-based video links use huge screens so that participants in other places appear life sized, as part of the group.    One screen can show slides or documents, while others can show participants.

Why they matter

Over 25% of many corporation’s carbon footprint is travel and air travel is a significant element of this.  Eyenetwork estimates that if a third of business travel could be turned into virtual meetings, it would reduce annual global emissions of CO2 by over 120 million tons.

Most large organisations are still sending executives to almost every meeting instead of using videoconferencing to save travel time and cost.   Time spent away from home has doubled for many executives over the last two years and is already at unsustainable levels.  Many business leaders are already spending up to six weeks a year cruising at 35,000 feet.  What happens in the next three to five years?   Work-life balance is now number one or number two career priority in many nations.  So there is pressure for change – and all this is without the growing concerns about the environment.

Case study:   I have presented at two corporate events recently where another speaker appeared as a solid-looking, life size “hologram”, able to walk around the stage and interact with other people on the same platform.  I have also spoken to an international conference taking place simultaneously at nine different sites around the world – from my home.  It happened at the height of the Sars crisis when participants were unable to travel beyond their own national borders.


Most people don’t like “performing” on live video calls for several reasons.  Their experience has often been that equipment is in the wrong place, picture is poor quality, calls can fail, there is time delay.  But new technology has improved the experience.    Video is a powerful medium which makes many people self-conscious and familiarity is important so team members relax.  At the same time, if people behave exactly as they would face to face, they can fail to bridge the distance and technology gap, and can come across as a shadow of their real selves.  Key skills are needed to really shine during a video call.

Business opportunity

The UK market alone for videoconferencing and related services is already around £250m a year.  Demand is likely to grow faster than the 5-7% a year seen in the mid 2000s.  Expect sales to double in the next 5-10 years as usage increases, and technology improves.  The EU market could grow to £3bn a year.  Expect many organisations to allow travel budgets to be used to buy travel-saving technology, funding a boom in personal video systems and related equipment, technical support, training and so on.

This is a highly competitive market with few barriers to entry.  There are many opportunities for cross-selling other IT or communication products and services.  For example supplying not only video systems but also new call-centre technologies, switchboards and software.

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