Face to Face Meetings/Rise of Web Conferencing

By Kimberly L. McCall

The hat trick of terrorism, war and inconvenience are changing travel habits. According to the survey, “Usage Trends of Collaboration Technology by Business Travelers 2004,” conducted by Wainhouse Research, 63% of business travelers are taking fewer trips and 79% are interested in alternatives to business travel. That’s good news for IVCi (www.ivci.com) LLC, a Hauppauge, New York-based company that provides video, Web and audio conferencing, audio/visual integration, streaming video solutions and IP conferencing network services. Selling Power asked Adam Zeitsiff, IVCi’s chairman and CEO about the decline of face-to-face meetings and the rise of conferencing technologies.

What are most of your customers asking for in meeting alternatives: video, audio, Web or a combination?

Zeitsiff: It’s really a combination of each of these conferencing technologies because each serves its own purpose. For example, companies use video conferencing to supplement face-to-face meetings where the tangible elements of human presence, body language and eye contact are active components of the meeting. This differs somewhat from Web conferencing, which companies are using almost exclusively to collaborate and share documents. Video and audio conferencing are used to make faster, smarter decisions. Web conferencing is used to get work done.

Face-to-face meetings are still powerful. How can a Web/video/audio conference compete with the human connection?

Zeitsiff: Face-to-face meetings are vital to the success of all business relationships. Conducting business in today’s fast-paced, ever-connected world, however, demands that business professionals be present in all places at once. The only way to maintain this level of communication and collaboration without ringing up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel costs and losing hundreds of valuable hours in productivity every year is by using video conferencing. Video conferencing is the new face-to-face meeting.

IVCi maintains that meetings are changing for the better. How?

Zeitsiff: With video conferencing, decisions are made faster than ever before. The ability to interact face-to-face with your customers, co-workers and business partners in a seamless, effortless manner allows your business to be everywhere at once. You literally have real-time visibility into your business relationships and can manage, resolve and enhance relationships at the click of a button. The only thing missing is the handshake.