IT intelligence

Using the internet for conferences is a smart way to save on travel, says Robin Fisk

Robin Fisk
Robin Fisk

It's an often-quoted theory that half of all business travel is unnecessary. And there is probably something in it. With a change of mindset, we could save much of the time, money and carbon emissions we waste on travelling.

Your internet connection is probably underused at present. Assuming the squeeze on spending is not going to force you to close your connection down, you can use it to help you work more efficiently.

Save money on phone calls by using free internet-based voice call software. You need to invest in a headset, unless you want to listen to the call through your PC speakers, and both the caller and the recipient of the call need to have compatible software.

Well-known examples include Skype, Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. Add a webcam and you have a basic video-conferencing capability. It's not quite the same as meeting face to face, but after a little practice it can be effective.

Conference calling - where more than two people participate in a call - can also be handled by these systems. Bandwidth might become an issue as you try to pump large amounts of voice and video data down the line. If so, see if anyone in the office is listening to internet radio, and stop them. You can also share folders with your contacts so that your meetings can be based upon a commonly viewed document.

These are free options, but your organisation might already subscribe to a paid-for online conferencing facility such as WebEx or GoToMeeting. These add further options, such as application sharing and webinars (online seminars).

Jumping in the car, plane or train is a habit - but maybe we can save money and reduce our carbon emissions by making smarter use of our internet connections.

Robin Fisk is a senior charity technology specialist at ASI Europe

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