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CIO Jury: Businesses use tech to beat travel blues

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Businesses are trying to reduce the amount of travelling done by staff by making greater use of technology such as video-conferencing and collaboration tools. Luggage restrictions and delays at airports following the alleged bomb plot last week have once again highlighted the potential pitfalls of business travel, but organisations are also citing cost savings, health and safety and corporate social responsibility as good reasons for cutting down on the journeys made by staff. Ten of silicon.com's 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel said they either already have or are planning to make more use of video-conferencing and other communication and collaboration technologies for these reasons. Neil Hammond, head of IT at British Sugar, said the environment and health and safety are the two main drivers for adopting these technologies. We have used video-conferencing for a long time and we are now using IP over a converged network with improved quality, flexibility and reduced cost. -- Chris Broad, head of IS & technology, UK Atomic Energy Authority He said: "About 3,000 people die on Britain's road per year. One third of these road accidents occur are on a work or business related journey. Obviously there will be many more non-fatal road accidents. Anything that can effectively reduce the need for travel wins on environmental and health and safety grounds, and in the long run saves money." Jacques Rene, director of IT and projects at Airclaims, said: "We already use WebEx and Citrix collaboration tools extensively. This has been very successful and has saved on travel and time." Chris Broad, head of IS and technology at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, added: "We have used video-conferencing for a long time and we are now using IP over a converged network with improved quality, flexibility and reduced cost." The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) is also trialling software for use on its wide area network (WAN) by customer service managers out on the road. James Findlay, head of ICT at the MCA, said: "We are looking at the benefits for the MCA both in terms of the Government Greening Policy, by cutting down the need to travel particularly as we are a national organisation with a diverse estate, as well as the expected travel and subsistence cost reductions. So far it has proved successful and we will be looking to implement this in the next few months." Nicholas Evans, European IT director at Key Equipment Finance, said: "We have a meeting today that is being done with web based conferencing and webcams. However, those who did fly to the meeting arrived without delay." But the most cost-effective technology in this area is still the "old and unsexy" telephone conferencing, according to Ted Woodhouse, director of IT strategy at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He said: Let's not pretend. This isn't about altruism. It's about saving money and/or improving efficiency. Generally speaking, having people travelling is highly inefficient." Today's CIO Jury was… Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash Chris Broad, head of IS and technology, UK Atomic Energy Authority Michael Elliot, IT director, Hasbro Nicholas Evans, European IT director at Key Equipment Finance James Findlay, head of ICT, Maritime and Coastguard Agency Neil Hammond, head of IT, British Sugar Adrian Hughes, head of IS, Amlin Luke Mellors, IT director, Expotel Colin Moore, head of IS, Department for Education and Skills Jacques Rene, director of IT and projects, Airclaims Ted Woodhouse, director of IT strategy, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Graham Yellowley, director of technology, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International
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