HSBC introduces virtual conference rooms

HSBC is boosting its green credentials by introducing virtual conference rooms to reduce the amount of air travel by employees.

HSBC is boosting its green credentials by introducing virtual conference rooms to reduce the amount of air travel by employees.

The virtual conference rooms, which use Cisco technology, will enable people in remote locations to participate more fully in meetings via the internet.

"Our current meeting and collaboration tools provide significant increases in productivity, but are no substitute for in-person meetings," said CIO Ken Harvey. "This gives us the experience and benefit of actually being in the room with colleagues on the other side of the world, without having to pack a suitcase."

HSBC estimates that an online meeting between three employees who would otherwise need to travel from Hong Kong to Chicago would save $50,000.

HSBC and other large companies are leading the way in using technology to reduce the carbon emissions of businesses.

In October, HSBC said it would save 500KW of power - equivalent to the consumption of 500 electric fires running simultaneously - in its data centres by using virtualisation software.

Last year Barclays said it was replacing 10,000 PCs with thin clients to reduce CO2 emissions by 15,000 tonnes and save £5.2m.

Tesco said it has committed £100m to reducing its 4.1 million tonne carbon footprint and is applying IT in other parts of the business to reduce overall company emissions by an estimated 20%.

John Higgins, CEO at IT trade association Intellect, said although basic strategies such as turning computers off when not in use will go a long way, businesses can go a step further. He said there is technology available to help cut carbon emissions across the business.

"Good analysis of where your energy costs are racking up and matching your IT developments to these would be good start," he said. "Vehicles and buildings are usually the biggest emitters of carbon."

Vehicle routing technology that will minimise the consumption of fuel as well as energy technology to make buildings more energy efficient, such as systems to automate turning off systems and lights, can cut carbon emissions.

Read more on IT efficiency and sustainability

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