August 21, 2007
Rick Snyder, president of TANDBERG Americas, recently took the time to answer questions about the telecommunications industries role in the green movement, his company’s efforts to stay ahead of the pack and the upcoming Green Technology World Conference this September in Los Angeles.
TANDBERG, a global provider of visual communications, has a stated mission of developing products that reduce CO2 emissions, traffic congestion and unnecessary business travel, while maintaining or improving productivity.
How is the green movement changing the way your company operates?
We’d been using videoconferencing to reduce the need for business travel and improve productivity since 1989. As we grow exponentially, it becomes even more essential that we address our carbon footprint. Recently, with the introduction of Tandberg Movi, all employees with a webcam can join the enterprise video network. Not only does this cut carbon emissions by reducing travel, it promotes visual telecommuting programs.
In addition, we are implementing company-wide programs to recycle, use environmentally friendly business materials and reduce printing. Also, two European Union directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) have been critical to our operations teams.
We are conducting a third-party audit of our environmental record measuring travel, energy use and production factors to discover more areas to improve.
Have customers been pushing your organization to produce more green products and services?
Yes. A number of our customers, such as Vodafone, have corporate-wide climate change programs and are looking to TANDBERG to help them measure the impact that video, and its associated travel reduction has on their CO2 emissions. In the U.S., we’ve been talking with our government customers for some time about how to visually enable their growing telecommuting programs so that more employees and managers stay connected. We’ve put tools and services in place to help customers track and show results, such as our microsite, www.seegreennow.com.
How long has your company been focusing on providing green technologies?
To be frank, when TANDBERG debuted its first video system almost 20 years ago, we did not think of it as a green technology. We viewed it as a tool to enhance business productivity and reduce cost. We are humbled to realize that what we have been producing all along can be a measurable environmental solution for business.
What customer pain does your company take away for customers?
In short, we increase productivity by making communication more natural. Visual communication accelerates decision making by reducing the time to gather information and materials. It helps scale knowledge, so that companies can access expertise immediately. It unifies organizations. Companies that communicate well eliminate a lot of wasted time and empower their workforce. Finally, it improves work/life balance, with less travel and higher employee engagement — that means less employee turnover too.
For many companies, being environmentally responsible is not foremost in their mind. They are interested in doing what they can, but it is the combination of productivity gains and cost reduction, PLUS the green factor that addresses their concerns.
What is the most effective green technology in your opinion?
That is very hard to say. It is very exciting to see innovation around this topic taking place in all areas, from green data centers to eco-friendly building materials. I think the technologies that are going to be most successful are those that are cost-effective, easy to implement, use and provide a measurable ROI for customers. Videoconferencing is certainly high on our agenda!
What has surprised you most about the green movement?
It seems that we get a green “cycle” every generation. When you look back to the 1970’s we all talked about the ozone layer and the energy crisis, and then it seemed to fade away from the mainstream. This time around, though, it seems like market leaders in all industries are truly embracing the movement. It is about action not words.
Did you get a chance to see/hear the Live Earth concert?
I did and I really enjoyed it. In talking with employees the next day it seemed like the event did its job to raise awareness of the issue and get people excited about doing something. Education and action are the keys if we are to make a difference.
Can you make one prediction about the green movement in five years?
I think that we are going to see more companies recognize the growing demand for green products and services and begin to enter the market. Those that treat it like a gimmick are going to get drowned in the “green wash.” Consumers are well informed and trends show an affinity with green organizations that are committed and involved in making a difference.
What will you be covering in your presentation at the Green Technology World Conference this September in Los Angeles?
I am going to share some results from a global survey we have just completed with Ipsos-Mori on environmental attitudes in 15 countries. We are seeing some compelling results about people’s preference for green products and green employers and some surprising results about how different countries stack up in their engagement on the issue.
I am also going to share some case studies of companies we have worked with to reduce their carbon footprint.
What do you want the industry to know about your company?
I think that we are serious about the green issue and we are acting on it with significant investment. We recognize that we are far from perfect ourselves and that prioritizing environmental responsibility is an operational issue as well as a cultural one. Our green audit is a first step for us and we are interested in becoming more involved in the global conversation around the green topic.
Where will your organization be over the next 3-5 years?
At the forefront of the industry, leading by example and continually adapting to the demands of our customers and employees. We will be innovating in the ways we address environmental issues as well as issues of workforce engagement, and competitive advantage.
In the next five years we expect everyone will have the ability to be visually enabled, supporting the need to reduce CO2 emissions through reduced business travel, while maintaining business continuity. Video will become an integral part of natural communication for everyone in an organization, allowing people to have that intimate face-to-face discussion as if they were in the same room.
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