Large companies using telepresence technology can achieve a financial return on investment in as little as 15 months, and save nearly 900 business trips in the first year of using telepresence, finds a new study commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and sponsored by AT&T.
Telepresence is a rapidly growing and increasingly popular technology that enables groups of people to meet and collaborate in multiple locations worldwide while feeling as if they were all in the same room together.
Focusing on companies in the U.S. and U.K., the study finds that businesses that substitute some business travel with telepresence can cut CO2 emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total – the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year – and achieve total economy-wide financial benefits of almost US$19 billion, by 2020.
The study, “The Telepresence Revolution,” determines that a business with US$1 billion or more in annual revenue implementing four telepresence rooms could: achieve a financial return on investment in as little as 15 months; save nearly 900 business trips in the first year of using telepresence; and reduce emissions by 2,271 metric tons over five years—the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 434 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
The study also reveals that telepresence technology can help speed decision-making, improve employee productivity, and provide workers with a better work-life balance.
The study was produced by Verdantix, an independent analyst research firm. Verdantix conducted in-depth interviews with executives of 15 Global 500 firms that are early adopters of telepresence – including Accenture, Aviva, EMC and Microsoft – and used the findings of those interviews to develop a new, detailed model to calculate the financial return on investment (ROI) and carbon reductions of telepresence. The model looks at projected telepresence adoption among companies with US$1 billion or more in annual revenue.
Sak Nayagam, Head of Climate Change Solutions, Sustainability Services EALA at Accenture, reveals that since adopting telepresence, Accenture has expanded its network to include more than 50 telepresence rooms across the globe. The travel saved through their use would have accounted for 6,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally from November 2007 through August 2009. “For us, it is not so much about eliminating travel but travelling smarter and maximising the time and value of our workforce,” relates Nayagam.
“Companies that invest in carbon cutting technologies and re-engineer the way they do business will not only be better placed to succeed as we transition to a low-carbon economy but can experience considerable business benefits during this transition,” said CDP chief executive officer Paul Dickinson. “Telepresence is a good example of a low-carbon solution that can bring financial savings and increase productivity while reducing emissions.”