Videoconferencing project "is a no-brainer" says CIO

Videoconferencing roll out saves cash, time and CO2 for paints-to-chemicals company AkzoNoble.

Paints-to-chemicals company AkzoNoble said it has seen rapid return on investment on a videoconferencing system.

The company's CIO Pieter Schoehuijs said that even according to its "fairly conservative assumptions" AkzoNobel is saving 50,000 working hours a year based on 4,000 staff in the video sessions - and 25 tonnes of CO2.

"We have achieved the estimate we put in the business case but more importantly we've saved employee hours and CO2 emissions. Not only is it financially attractive but from a sustainability and values perspective it's a no brainer," he said.

And while video calling has remained niche in the consumer space, Schoehuijs thinks it will become a big part of business communications. "People will use video more and more, in a few years video will be the norm," he said.

The company has 16 large telepresence rooms with multiple screens to enable staff to communicate across its offices around the world. These are used around 15 hours per room per week, but Schoehuijs said the intention is to increase that further. "That can be doubled in the next couple of years," he said.

The company spent "in the region of seven to eight million euros" on the project, Schoehuijs said, adding that extending the use of video to other devices was a logical step: "People expect to be able to work with a laptop or a tablet. I cannot imagine this not being integrated with other platforms."

The company's original business plan for the video conference project with Orange Business Services had it paying back in one and a half years. Schoehuijs said "15 months in, we are ahead based on those assumptions."

While the system is used for internal video conferencing the company is also looking at extending it to be able to have video sessions with other companies.

By Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was th...