Does Web Conferencing Hurt Business?
I just saw a short online article summarizing results of a survey sponsored by CareerBuilder.com. The article had the provocative headline “Survey: Cutting business travel cuts business.”
It opened with two bullet points in bold face on a highlighted background:
- Less business travel adversely impacts their business, say more than a third
- ‘Some companies are revisiting their policies’
Wow! Sounds pretty bad. Especially when combined with a lead-in sentence of “… But such penny pinching might have had unintended consequences, suggest results of a recent survey…”
However, when I read into the article, I found that things were not as glum as the sensational audience grabbers suggest. First of all, the survey showed that only 30 percent of the surveyed companies had cut back on business travel last year. That’s less than I would have thought. And of that 30 percent who said they reduced travel, only 37 percent of them said it negatively impacted their business.
So my interpretation is that almost two-thirds of the companies who have tried reducing business travel find that they are able to maintain or improve business results while saving costs, time, and employee inconvenience. Nice!
Deeper into the specifics, the article says that 42 percent of companies say they rely more on phone/web conferencing now to conduct business with clients. 31 percent of them say they get “just as much out of virtual meetings as face-to-face meetings.” Again, this is impressive. Virtual meetings are not and should not be replacements for every type of meeting need. But the fact that a third of respondents say they work just as well as F2F shows the huge current and potential benefits in virtual collaboration.
Oh, and that quoted fragment in the opening bullet points? Turns out the full quote is that some companies who have NOT yet reduced travel are revisiting their policies to “maximize the effectiveness of their business travel initiatives.” Sounds like there is a lot of room left for further reductions in travel, to be replaced by something just as effective (in some – not all – cases), but less costly and disruptive.
If I were writing this same article, I might headline it: “Survey: Cutting business travel shows great potential”
But that wouldn’t be as alarmist and wouldn’t fit in with the media’s fixation on playing to fear and doubt. Tsk.