In my previous blog post, I touched on why the best performing companies “think outside of the room”. I highlighted the fact that business executives will soon start saying “It’s time to Polycom our customer or supplier”, just like they currently say “I need to Fed-Ex documents” or “Google information”. For this post, I've decided to dig deeper and spend some time sharing how collaboration technology supports the strategic objectives of the Chief Executive Officer.


Today’s CEO juggles countless opportunities and challenges, from operational discipline to global uncertainty. When it comes to success drivers, people, processes, and technology propel businesses forward. And no organisation can maintain successful people and operations without clear communication and collaboration. CEOs must rethink how to encourage collaboration, and how to defy the distance that currently exists between teams, partners and customers – to leverage the collective knowledge and intelligence of the entire business ecosystem. Video collaboration is a huge driver in supporting and enabling business success.


Here are the first five of the 10 ways CEOs can use visual communication technology to build their competitive advantage:


1) Extend Reach to Fuel Organic Growth


41% of U.S. CEOs see organic growth as their main opportunity in 2013, according to PWC’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey 2013. Organic growth comes from finding new customer groups, adding sales channels, and building product line extensions. The key to growth, according to Seth Birnbaum, co-founder and former CEO of Verdasys (@verdasys_inc), is “to find ways to serve clients without growing budgets or increasing staff.”


He adds “Polycom allows me to extend the reach of our business, to get better leverage out of individuals. With video conferencing, you take someone who affects millions of dollars of business and multiply them by a factor of two. It’s a force multiplier”.


So, in this case, video collaboration complements traditional Customer Relationship Management solutions by enabling regular, visual contact with customers and expanded reach throughout each territory. In short, sales teams get face time more easily with anyone from anywhere.


2) Differentiate Through Product Innovation


While new product initiatives are meant to create market differentiation and generate returns, they also vastly increase operational complexity. When individual departments with distributed teams try to innovate and chase growth independently, large companies end up duplicating a lot of effort and investment.  They struggle with an increasingly incoherent portfolio of businesses, product lines, and capabilities.


For instance, Intelligent Energy (@intellenergy), has many teams and offices around the world. According to Julian Hughes, Group Business Development Director, there is no better way to defy distance than to have a face-to-face conversation using video conferencing. “It has allowed us to go to market faster and given us a clear competitive advantage, as demonstrated by the recent successful launch of UppTM, our game changing personal energy device", commented Hughes.


When teams are engaged in the development of revolutionary products and services, the quest for innovation demands instantaneous collaboration and content sharing. Discussing computer-aided design and technical documentation in real-time from any location has become mission-critical. You can read more about Intelligent Energy in this press release and follow @uppinspiration for more information.



3) Support Inorganic Growth Strategies to Grow Market Share


When it comes to building critical mass or looking for complementary products and services to boost portfolios, organisations often take the route of expanding through joint-venture, M&A, or strategic alliances.


However, research suggests that in only 36% of acquisitions do companies realise enough cost savings to cover the premium they’ve paid; in the other 64%, annual total shareholder returns are, on average, negative 2%. This unfortunate statistic is usually attributed to poor execution: insensitive management, lack of trust building and communication, slow rollouts and more.


Face-to-face meetings go a long way in blending people of different corporate cultures and even diverse nationalities into one company. They instill trust and humanise a challenging business process, reinforcing corporate values along the way. Video collaboration improves merger and acquisitions lifecycle management, from buy/build planning through acquisition screening, to post-acquisition integration.


4) Transform Customer Service to Increase Loyalty


Exceptional customer service can be a competitive edge, and nothing improves customer satisfaction as much as putting a human face to your company. Establishing a more personal connection with customers via a video contact center can be a game changer.


The use of video collaboration has helped make Buro Happold more competitive. If anyone in our 27 offices needs to offer a client their unique expertise, whether it’s a hotel or stadium development or the design for a new city, we can readily bring in the relevant people using Polycom HD video. And I can now join in meetings all over the world from my laptop, even from home, without worrying about interoperability issues – because it’s Polycom,” says Paul Westbury, CEO of Buro Happold (@burohappold).


Leveraging video technology to offer visual customer service not only improves customer’s satisfaction and loyalty, but also transforms the overall service delivery experience.


5) Grow Human Capital to Drive Business Value


Finding sufficiently skilled talent is getting more challenging by the day. Especially in emerging economies, the pools of qualified employees are increasingly shallow and becoming surprisingly cost-prohibitive. Companies need to invest in talent management, training, and development of their workforce; they also must adopt telework and flexible work policies to attract and retain talent. Management also needs to keep the talent they have effectively engaged and enabled.


Alan Hodgson, Telephony Manager at Exego Group says: “We have a very open and flexible work culture here at Exego, and our employees understand the value of video. It is now a vital component of our daily business life. As our video conferencing needs grew, we began to look at it not only from a cost perspective, but from a lifestyle one.” . (Read more about Exego in this case study).


Companies increasing employee engagement and enablement through video communication report significantly improved revenue growth, staff loyalty, and employee performance. I encourage you to read this post that provides a perfect example: “Why video is vital to me as a working mum”.



Click here for the further five ways CEOs can build competitive advantage by investing in collaboration technology.



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