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NASA: Virtual Conferencing Can Cut Costs

June 25, 2014

In October 2012, NASA conducted its first Virtual Executive Summit. Through its own human resources portal and Adobe Connect, the agency allowed participants to access prerecorded and live sessions and activities. By creating an event that was entirely virtual, a recent article at FCW says, it saved $750,000 in travel expenses and $250,000 in logistics and venue costs.

The savings did not end there. NASA reportedly announced plans last year to reduce its overall travel expense budget by $20 million by taking advantage of similar videoconferencing solutions.

Furthermore, not only was NASA able to save money during its first virtual summit, it was able to use that same technology to conduct more events than it normally would have been able to undertake. The agency reportedly was able to conduct six times more events in 2013 than it could in 2011.

This change is not entirely on NASA's shoulders. Although it has shown itself capable of properly and effectively using modern Web-based technologies, participants in its events have also shown themselves receptive to the switch to virtual events.

Estelle Dodson, integrative sciences and technologies manager at NASA's Astrobiology Institute, commented that virtual meetings are beginning to match up with changes in culture. They allow event participants not only to save money but also to relieve themselves of the burden of possible travel and scheduling restrictions. The technology itself, she continued, is also keeping pace with modern expectations -- it is simple to use, it is reliable, and the video and audio participants’ access is crisp and clear.

“There's been a real change in people's receptiveness to videoconferencing,” Dodson said. “Also, improvements in videoconferencing ability itself, the reliability, the quality, all these things increased at the same time that the generation was entering the workforce about five years ago, that had really spent a lot of their life online already and were really comfortable with video.”

In addition to cost savings, TMC has reported that virtual meetings can help reduce carbon emissions associated with travel. They can be equally as productive and effective as face-to-face meetings, and at a fraction of the expense, teleconferencing is showing itself to be an increasingly-attractive collaboration tool.