We recently discussed a study conducted by the Telework Exchange that revealed an impressive $13 billion per year worth of taxpayer dollars could be saved by adopting Unified Communications (UC) solutions, such as video teleconferencing (VTC), for just half of the federal workforce. The savings were a result of increased productivity, as well as the elimination of unnecessary business travel.

However, despite the fact that the federal government is strapped financially and can use every dollar in savings it can get, the government has yet to implement VTC across its agencies on a larger scale. Four of the main reasons cited for this lack of greater adoption included cost concerns, lack of available technology, cultural barriers and concerns about interoperability.

But now, these factors no longer have to be gating issues that stand between the government and VTC adoption.

Today, Polycom made a series of announcements that make VTC adoption inexpensive, VTC solutions ubiquitous and the user experience so simple that anyone can operate them. The announcements eliminate virtually every obstacle to VTC adoption and make it possible for people to stay securely connected via video from their home, home office, office, boardroom, and any mobile device.

The first major announcement is the introduction of the Polycom® RealPresence® CloudAXIS™ Suite, a new extension to the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform that extends enterprise-grade video collaboration to users of Skype™, Facebook, Google Talk™, and other business video applications via a browser.

This enables government employees that are teleworking to utilize consumer video applications to connect with the approved enterprise solutions in the office with the highest quality, reliability and security. Now all teleworking federal employees with an active Internet connection and a laptop or desktop computer with a camera and microphone can utilize Skype, Facebook or Google Talk to participate in video calls with their associates.

The next announcement involves other enhancements to the RealPresence Platform, including the addition of the industry’s first open standards-based Scalable Video Coding (SVC) protocol that delivers 3X the previous capacity for HD multipoint video calls. This provides increased scalability for government agencies, while significantly lowering their total cost of ownership. It also enables backwards- and forwards-compatibility, to protect the government’s investment in the future.

These RealPresence Platform enhancements also make it easier for government agencies to deliver video collaboration from private, public, and hybrid clouds and ensure multi-vendor interoperability. This makes it easier to implement video across an agency while eliminating the “video islands” that would arise when individual agencies embraced VTC solutions from disparate venders.

The announcements didn’t end there. Polycom also introduced their new Polycom User Experience (Polycom® UX™), which introduces a completely redesigned, easy-to-use interface, coupled with HD resolutions up to 1080p60. Polycom UX also enables Polycom® SmartPairing™ technology, which can enable government employees to control and interchange their video meetings with their mobile devices.

The new Polycom UX can help to overcome the cultural barriers that faced VTC adoption by making it as simple and easy to use video solutions as it is to use a tablet computer. It even enables users to take a video call with them by moving it from a VTC endpoint to their mobile device with the flick of a finger.

Finally, Polycom has introduced new endpoints designed to make video a part of every desktop, and to fill previous office niches that VTC solutions didn’t reach.

The new Polycom® RealPresence® VisualEdge™ is an executive desktop video solution with a 27” screen. This new endpoint solution takes up little desk space and is designed to seamlessly replace existing computer screens for executives.

The new Polycom® RealPresence® Group Series is designed to bring HD video communication into smaller environments such as “huddle” rooms, medium-sized areas such as classrooms and conference rooms, and larger spaces such as board rooms or large conference rooms. These solutions ensure that video can be a part of any conversation, regardless of whether it’s in the classroom, a large boardroom or a small conference room.

Polycom’s unprecedented announcements are making video communication mainstream and eliminating the major concerns and challenges keeping government agencies from implementing this cost-cutting and productivity-increasing technology.

Whether they originate from enterprise VTC endpoints in the office, or Skype from the home computer, video conversations are the way of the future. They’re expediting decision making, improving collaboration, increasing information sharing and making government agencies more effective and efficient. With the latest advances from Polycom, there’s no longer any reason why today’s government can’t make every conversation a secure video conversation.