The business trip: sleeping on hard hotel mattresses, cramming into coach class,
attending endless presentations and lectures. As appealing as a root canal?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who thinks so. Chances are your company
is also rooting for you to stay in the office.
The ongoing battle with the balance sheet is making companies take a harder
look at T&E expenses. According to the National Business Travel Association,
corporate travel budgets have been cut 20 percent on average in the past year,
and 75 percent of these companies have turned to conferencing to control costs
and conduct business more efficiently.
Growing frustrations with business travel are prompting the surge in conferencing
use. What are the hottest growth areas in the conferencing industry? How are
It Just Makes Cents
exists to make our lives easier. If used right, it can save time, money, and
ultimately some headaches. There’s no better example than in the business environment,
where conferencing has quickly become ingrained into traditional ways of conducting
business as companies recognize its many benefits.
Take the business meeting, for instance. Whether the meeting is in-person or
on the phone, businesses not only incur "hard costs," like airline
travel, food and lodging, but "soft costs," such as the salaries of
meeting attendees. An MCI WorldCom Conferencing study profiled a typical meeting
with five participants from five different locations. The total hard and soft
costs differ significantly depending on meeting method. For example, if four
of the participants travel by plane to attend, the cost of the meeting adds
up to almost $5,200; if the group meets by videoconferencing, meeting costs
drop to about $1,700. By contrast, the same meeting conducted by audioconference
costs under $700.
Now consider this: The average "road warrior" takes nearly five plane
trips each month. Think of how many minutes, hours and days are spent preparing
for and traveling to these meetings. A recent study by International Data Corporation
found that one in 10 business trips – or six trips a year – could be effectively
replaced by Web-based conferencing. The time and cost savings from those six
trips alone is significant. When applied to an entire company, the savings are
A Growing Trend
Clearly the infiltration of conferencing in the business arena is not a
new trend, but it is a growing one. In 1998, conference calls in North America
amounted to $2.6 billion, a growth of nearly 23 percent from the previous year,
according to TeleSpan Publishing Corporation.
As one of the world’s fastest-growing providers of conferencing services, MCI
WorldCom saw a dramatic growth in its conferencing services in 1999. Overall
audio conferencing call volume grew 40 percent; videoconferencing grew 35 percent;
and Net conferencing volume grew an astounding 216 percent.
To wit, more than a third of Internet-savvy professionals have participated
in Internet conferencing, where presentations are viewed over the Web, according
to a recent study by MCI WorldCom Conferencing. The same study indicates over
70 percent of professionals are likely to use Web conferencing in the next year.
Emerging Web-based solutions are having a profound impact on the long-term
future of the conferencing market. According to a 1999 Frost & Sullivan
study, Internet-based conferencing is significantly less expensive than traditional
solutions, attracting the cost-conscious customers who before were hesitant
to jump into the market.
As businesses embrace Internet-based meetings, products and services will continue
to evolve. Look for live audio and video streaming of meetings, with opportunities
for real-time interaction.
For more information on electronic meeting solutions for your company, visit
e-Meetings Web site.