The quest for a competitive advantage drives every business on the move. That means reducing travel costs, making faster and better informed decisions and helping employees balance their professional and personal lives. The most direct way to attain these goals is to make it easy for colleagues, customers or associates to manage their time more efficiently.

Time management has been a business buzz-phrase since the early ‘90s when companies were challenged to improve profitability on shrinking budgets. Efficiencies were put in place to reduce costs, including streamlined travel and reduced T&E expenditures. What product of the ’90s has better increased office efficiencies than the Internet?

The Power of the Internet
There’s no doubt that the Internet is permanently changing the way business is conducted both in the United States and around the world. In a recent MCI WorldCom Conferencing study on Internet usage among technology-savvy business people, these professionals are increasing their reliance on the Internet as a tool to save time and reduce costs.

The independent study "The Internet’s Impact on Business Productivity and Individual Work Habits" surveyed nearly 300 Internet-connected business professionals on their Web usage. The results show that American businesses are rapidly embracing the Internet. More than half of the respondents say the Internet is central to their companies’ daily business practices; only 13 percent say their company limits or discourages Internet use.

A majority of survey respondents use the Internet for a variety of business tasks. For instance, business travelers use the Web frequently to access online maps (94 percent), obtain flight information (89 percent), conduct research on other companies (82 percent), make hotel reservations (67 percent) and purchase airline tickets (58 percent).

"The business benefits companies gain from the Internet are staggering – from both a financial and work-life standpoint," said Tim Reedy, vice president, Finance and Marketing, MCI WorldCom Conferencing. "More than 68 percent of the respondents of the study say the Internet reduces costs; 63 percent say it improves customer service; and 61 percent say it reduces travel. Furthermore, over half say it helps improve job satisfaction and quality of work, and reduces stress."

Conferencing on the Internet
While most business professionals already use the Internet to help plan business trips, an increasing number are also using it to participate in meetings and collaborate with others. In fact, more than a third of respondents have participated in Internet-based conferences, where presentations are shared and viewed over the Web. Web conferencing enables hundreds of people at dispersed locations to meet as a group, using only an Internet-connected PC and a separate telephone line. Because no one needs to travel to attend, companies save time and money.

Other uses of the Internet for meeting-related tasks:
75 percent have e-mailed a presentation to meeting participants
46 percent have met via online chat
40 percent have participated in a distance learning session
29 percent have attended a virtual seminar

Online Organizational Tools
With use of the Internet growing, the virtual space is becoming a crowded one, and keeping track of all these activities can be challenging. But new online time-management tools, such as, can make it easier. is the perfect companion for Internet-savvy professionals who need to schedule a meeting – on the Internet or in-person – especially when faced with the usual time crunch.

For example, setting up a last-minute online conference with colleagues around the globe is as easy as a click of the mouse button. When the conference coordinator adds the meeting to, it’s automatically added to all participants’ schedules. It can also remind each participant a half-hour before conference time. Because it’s an Internet-based tool, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is completely secure. was created in response to the demand of the online calendar market, which International Data Corporation predicts will grow to almost 60 million users by 2002. offers individuals and groups powerful, integrated, easy-to-use time-management tools, including a calendar, an address book, a reminder service, group scheduling and publishing features, and a task manager with an event directory. It also can be synchronized with popular handheld and desktop organizers – such as Palm Pilots, IBM Workpad, Windows CE devices, Lotus Notes, Lotus Organizer, MS Outlook, Symantec ACT, and Goldmine – letting you access up-to-the-minute information.

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.


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