Friday, 13 February 2009

Video conferencing to replace 2.1 million airline seats per year by 2012, losing the travel industry $3.5 billion annually

Gartner, one of the world's leading information technology research companies, has published a report predicting that innovative new technologies are set to replace 2.1 million unnecessary business flights by 2012.

The report focuses on a technology known as Telepresence - essentially high resolution video and audio conferencing, which allows "a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location" (Wikipedia).
Clearly, the key use for this technology is face-to-face business meetings - users get a very real feeling of "being there" without the need to hop on a plane.

Gartner goes on to explain that...

"...not every meeting needs to be face to face and there is no doubt that telepresence and other approaches to virtual collaboration such as Immersive Workspace, which is built on top of Second Life, or yet to be released solutions will provide a real alternative for many businesses"

One of the arguments given for the third runway is "increased competitiveness" and the growing demand for business flights in and out of London. Even if you ignore the environmental impact of unnecessary air travel and the dropping demand for flights, there are a number of other clear benefits to using this technology:
  • Cost savings on travel
  • Executives can stay at home with their families
  • Less man hours wasted through travel and therefore productivity gains
  • Health aspects - no jet lag (maybe a few late evenings in the office!)
Although global travel in a job may sound quite glamorous and attractive, I'm sure many executives can tell you how tiring and inconvenient it becomes over time. You rarely get a chance to see the cities you visit and you spend much of your time holed up in your hotel.

Through innovation in communications and IT, global business travel is now becoming less of a necessity for business and will continue to do so as technology improves.

Isn't it time Gordon Brown focused more of his efforts into fostering science and technological innovation in the UK than folly such as the the third runway at Heathrow?

More details here:

1 comment:

  1. well said

    My heart's bleeding for those in the travel industry, but their gloomy outlook can't justify the impact on the lives of millions in and around London.

    Gordon should move to Hounslow, really. This would be the most elegant move from him to prove he doesn't rubbish the locals' claims of noise from a convenient distance. More importantly, he wouldn't be in Number 10 anymore! :)