Video conferencing could save your business money
Video conferencing, once largely the province of big business, is now a far less costly proposition, making it increasingly attractive for small businesses.
In an economy that remains somewhat fragile and tentative, the appeal of video conferencing is hard to resist, particularly now that the once-pricy technology is within the financial reach of almost every company.
Video conferencing has also become more versatile. The traditional video conferencing image of conference-room-to-conference-room video exchanges has evolved to include smaller scale exchanges via computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Evolving technology has also made it possible to expand video conferences to include three or more sites.
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Cut travel expenses
So what's in it for your business? Well, the first big benefit of video conferencing is the savings you'll realize in travel expenses. And don't overlook the increase in productivity that can be achieved when fewer of your key employees are traveling and have more time to spend on the job.
Jumping on the video conferencing bandwagon will also enable you to deal more easily with companies that have been converts to this technology for some time.
In a time when companies are being asked what they are doing or can do to shrink their carbon footprint, video conferencing -- and its small but certain effect on travel-related emissions -- is one way to go green.
Internationalization of business
The internationalization of business today requires companies -- large and small -- to collaborate with one another to increase their bottom line. Video conferencing is a relatively inexpensive way to establish meaningful contact with potential partners or customers around the globe.
While the savings in travel dollars is fairly easy to compute, it's somewhat more difficult to quantify the benefits to the physical and mental well-being of key employees who will have to travel less if your company relies more on videoconferencing. But there are definitely benefits to be realized.
For companies that have employees in far-flung locations around the world, regular video conferencing allows the face-to-face contact that helps to maintain company cohesion and esprit de corps.
In addition to regularly scheduled video conferences, employees at remote locations can use the technology to collaborate in addressing and resolving problems in real time.
Polycom, based in the Silicon Valley, is a major supplier of video and audio conferencing equipment. In an overview of the benefits of video conferencing, the company highlights two of the most obvious -- travel savings and productivity gains -- but also offers its views on some of the less obvious advantages.
Job interviews via video
Video conferencing also can be used as a tool to help companies hire and retain the most talented candidates available, says Polycom.
Companies with key personnel at remote locations can use the technology to open job interviews to all those supervisors who will need to interact closely with the new employee. Even after the employee is hired, regular contact can be maintained between far-flung colleagues via video conferencing.
For those who are working away from the company's home base, this regular contact helps them to see in a very real way that they are part of the team.
Video conferencing also helps participating companies to maintain a competitive advantage, according to Polycom.
Intra-company conferences, as well as conferences with customers and vendors make it easier for all parties to communicate their problems and goals to one another. If a customer is experiencing a glitch with one of your company's products, it is probably going to be easier to illustrate the nature of the problem via a video than it would be to try explaining it over the phone or in an email. The same principle would apply if you encounter a problem with a vendor's product.
If your company is not yet using video conferencing, now might be a good time to reconsider whether this technology -- far less expensive than it once was -- is a viable way for your business to extend its competitive reach.
+MORE from the WDM Group network about video conferencing
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About the author
Jay Fremont is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of business and personal finance topics, including the importance of saving for your business future.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.