07 May 2010
By Turlough Guerin

Clear Skies for Virtual Meetings


Ever get annoyed at a late flight? What about if its 5 days? Would it test your patience? Yes. Well that’s happened in the past month- many travellers were stranded after the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.

I would have been in a similar predicament had I travelled to a telecommunications and the environment conference in Amsterdam last month.  Instead I joined the conference via a web and audio conference. I was happy to join the forum remotely. Apart from not ending up stranded, I saved more than $5000 in travel and accommodation costs, and 60+ hours in travel and downtime. The participants and chairperson participated in discussion with me after my talk so it wasn’t one-way. Overall it was a good investment of my time.

Conference orgnanisers have a great opportunity to deliver their services virtually. Virtual events are good for business, can save on travel costs and impacts, and still enable registrants to engage with each other and network. And sometimes it will be the only way to bring conference participants and presenters together.

Leading the charge in the virtual conference space is a company called G2 Events Inc.  This organisation is running summits, working with the biggest names in video conferencing hardware and traditional event managers. When I recently spoke to the VP of G2Events, Marc Barounos he indicated how one company has recently moved their annual sales conference onto a virtual platform bringing together their international sales force of 16,500 staff, saving millions of dollars. Much of these savings come from maintaining staff productivity – one of the biggest challenges facing enterprises  but a great opportunity for telecommunications.  But Mark also told me that the amount of time delegates are spending in the sessions is higher than expected. At a recent virtual summit he ran, this was, on average 2.5 hrs per delegate – not bad for an online event.

Virtual Meetings from telstraOne of the fall-outs from natural disasters is that would-be business travellers need to think more creatively about achieving their ends. I’d like to see more traditional conference organisers provide virtual participation and presentation options. The question remains, is the experience worth it? I say definitely yes, particularly when it can minimise disruption to my day job and keep funds in my budget for other initiatives.

Links & Further Information

In previous blogs and presentations, I mentioned how we are measuring travel savings from deployment of video conferencing, remote working and field workforce management solutions. Telstra has trialled the real-time measurement of travel savings from video conferencing and the results are impressive.

What is stopping you from doing virtual meetings? Once you have completed the 15 second online poll, see the results.

Join the discussion on Telstra’s Ideas for Good – a new social media platform for our stakeholders to have their say on sustainability issues.

View Telstra’s Group Managing Director Enterprise & Government, Nerida Caesar, talk about sustainability and a recent case study on how Telstra and Polycom have delivered travel savings across Telstra Countrywide.

Feedback from my last blog: I was inundated with feedback supportive of the 1 Million Women campaign. So don’t forget to sign up to the 1 Million Women campaign – and be sure you indicate at sign up that you found out about it through Telstra!


Posts: 10


  1. Joanne says:

    Dear Mr Guerin
    There are some very simple things we can do to protect our environment. For eg reducing waste. I have been recieving bills at my current address for a former tenant since end of 2008. Despite writing redirection notes on the envelope I still kept getting them. Its now 2010 and I fianlly decided to open the mail. The bills I have been redirecting back to Telstra have been for 45 cents!!!!! Have you bought a stamp recently? Do you know how much it cost our environment to produce the letter, post it, for me to redirect it and inevitable for disposal? Joanne

  2. Turlough says:

    Thanks for your comments Joanne. For the first part of your comments I am chasing up with Billing to see how we could stop these bills coming to the address. Agree it doesn’t make sense to send a bill which is the cost of the stamp or even less. I’ll revert asap.

    Regarding the second point on how much does it cost our environment to send a bill – that I can answer. We conducted a study to compare e-bills vs paper [bills like the ones your former tenant is being sent to your address]. The results we interesting and you are welcome to explore the findings:

    In a nutshell, the study showed us that the impact of paper bills ie sent in the mail were lower than e-bills, but only to a point. If we can get more and more customers to shift to the e-bill and paper-off options, there is a tipping point where the e-bill has a lower impact on the environment.

  3. For TMForum they run all workgroups via telecomferencing and each 6 months or so formal Team Action Week. Did various presentations for the Inferface specifications for Performance Managment Systems and seemed to work well. Certainly we had input from many different countires on a regular basis.

    One of the main issues with this method is that good infrastructure is needed. This means a USB Modem simply will not stream well enough (genreally speaking). If there is not the capacity on the broadband (or ADSL) then that represents an issue. This can be especially so when time differences require us to do that type of work from home.

  4. Turlough says:

    Back to your comment Joanne.

    I have spoken to the Billing Team and they have asked that you send me through your account number. Please send it to my secure email address at and I will foward it onto Billing.

  5. Turlough says:

    Thanks for your note Terry – do you think the Tele Management Forum would use web conferencing in the future or even Video Conferencing for the workshops you mention to enhance collaboration?

  6. Andrew OConnor says:

    I would like to congratulate Turlough Guerin for the first hand customer service he has shown to Terry. Thanks for your artical on Video Conferencing. Definately worth pursuing.

  7. Turlough says:

    Thanks Andrew – every interaction counts.

    Unfortunately I havent heard back from Joanne so couldn’t follow through.

  8. As a disabled person, I would like to encourage event-holders everywhere to include options for virtual participation, and to consider this also an accessibility issue. I recently participated in the EFA forum on the mandatory Internet filter, and although I was keen to be there in the first place, I was surprised how much I enjoyed being there personally. Even had I been able to travel, I would have had to worry about how long I could sit up, the effect of perfumes and other chemicals, how difficult it would be to travel to and from the event, avoiding damaging accidental bumps from others, and dealing with fluorescent lights and all the background noise. Sound quality from the event improved markedly after initial fiddling, and I didn’t have to worry about any of the usual environmental and ancillary issues.

    I notice I have to suggest virtual participation as people generally assume physical attendance, but EFA (for example) were very quick to take up the suggestion. As we do more of this type of event, I think more people will consider it a standard feature, and it will make participation more flexible, also helping us with time constraints.

    Thanks to EFA and to Telstra for promoting virtual participation in events. :)

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