HSBC is on course to make big savings and slash its air travel by millions of miles as it begins a global rollout of Cisco's videoconferencing system, TelePresence.
TelePresence will be fitted at nine of the bank's offices worldwide by the end of this year under a plan to grow videoconferencing use by 16 percent each year and "significantly" reduce air travel.
The Cisco system uses life-size, high-definition images and "spatial" audio with the aim of creating a more realistic videoconferencing environment.
The system has already proven successful for HSBC: during one month of use between its 8,000-strong London HQ and its Hong Kong office, the bank saved $604,000 (£340,000) on air travel bills and reduced distance flown by staff by 522,000 miles.
Cisco TelePresence will be available in offices in London, Chicago, Hong Kong, Mexico City, New York and Dubai; with plans already afoot for three more installations, likely to include Brazil and China.
The bank has been trialling the use of TelePresence in London and Hong Kong for about a year and in 2007 reduced its CO2 emissions per employee to 0.557 tonnes from 0.62 tonnes in 2006.
Aside from the unit in Dubai, each HSBC system will be a Cisco TelePresence 3000 unit.
HSBC is now conducting a consultation exercise to see how it far it can reduce its travel with use of videoconferencing technology.
A spokesman for HSBC said: "We have always had a very conservative travel policy at HSBC and monitored very closely what is considered essential and non-essential travel, and where possible we encourage staff to use videoconferencing as an alternative.
"This is the first step towards TelePresence and other videoconferencing facilities achieving critical mass and reaching a point where you will see a significant drop away in business travel."