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Tele and web conferencing: IT company has the green ‘wow’ factor

Louise Bateman
6th November 2008
The IT industry still has some work to do to improve its own green credentials, but the demand for IT solutions that lower a business’ carbon emissions is increasing all the time, with one UK company winning business off the back of the trend.
Powwownow was founded in 2004 with one simple offering for business customers: low-cost conference calling facilities with no requirement for booking or billing. But, whereas before, customers were using Powwownow for its easy-to-use, cost effective IT services, the company is now increasingly drawing in customers that want to reduce their carbon footprint as well.

“We are finding our customers want to save money by cutting business travel but are also keen to make their business practices help reduce their carbon footprint,” says Powwownow joint chief executive officer, Andrew Pearce.

Powwownow, which now operates in 12 countries across Europe and the US, counts among its UK clients the Council for the Blind, Court Service, Friends of the Earth, Imperial College and Keystone Law.

Turnover for the company, based in Richmond in Surrey, rose to £5 million this year and the company now employs 25 people. Its services are appealing to small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in particular, because they require no bills for organisers and no contracts, with each participant simply paying for their own 6.7p per minute call – the same as a national rate call.

Powwownow has just launched a new web-conferencing service, Showtime, enabling the sharing and presentation of documents via the web to one or more web conferencing participants, thereby enabling business customers to cut down on business travel even further, according to Pearce.
“Our new web-conferencing service is proving hugely successful as companies can now share files and present data over a conference call securely and without leaving their office,” says Pearce, adding that visits to the website have increased by 120 per cent and sales by 15 per cent in the last three months.

One satisfied customer is Keystone Law, a commercial law firm that has a network of solicitors working for it across the UK. It wanted a conferencing service to enable its solicitors to communicate with other teams and clients based around the UK and internationally.

“We use a range of backbone technologies to ensure that our teams can focus on delivering excellent legal counsel – the Powwownow service is one of those. For us and our clients, it offers financial benefits as well as saving time on travel and being better for the environment,” comments James Knight, managing partner at Keystone Law.

Knight adds: “I can see immediate opportunities about how we will use the Showtime service as it will enable our teams to share and review documents. It will be particularly useful for discussing complex issues with clients internationally.”

With 50,000 SME users opting for voice conferencing at any one time and recent research by Recycling Waste and Management showing that nearly three quarters of SMEs have plans to cut their carbon emissions, Powwownow is expecting to see its customer base grow in future.

However, like much of the rest of the IT industry, Powwownow still has some way to go to improve its own green credentials. The company has not yet measured by how much its conferencing services can help a company reduce its carbon footprint and has yet to audit its own environmental impact.

However, it says as a small business it takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. As well as having an effective in-house recycling policy it also uses hybrid cars for business travel.

“As a small business we are trying to be as green as possible and are keen to look at measuring our own carbon footprint in the future," says Pearce.

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Tele and web conferencing: IT company has the green ‘wow’ factor
Powwownow's new Showtime web conferencing service is winning over customers looking to cut their carbon footprint
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