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Icelandic volcano angers thousands while proving a point

- April 27, 2010 - 0 Comments

Many companies and government agencies that have been hesitant to embrace telework and video teleconferencing (VTC) got a real wake-up call over the course of the last few weeks as an ash cloud has caused more than a few travelers some heartache.

The problems started when the ash cloud, the product of an eruption from an Icelandic volcano, was declared a safety threat for air travel. The result was shuttered airports and grounded airplanes across Europe. The fear was that ash could clog important instruments and gauges, or could cause in-flight damage to engines and other parts causing mechanical failures.

Although safety is always a concern for travelers, the week-long delays are more than an inconvenience. Newspapers are reporting about individuals trapped at their vacation destinations with no additional funds to pay for the unexpected charges such as hotel stays and food. Business travelers are growing increasingly concerned about work and meetings missed. Overall, the entire air industry in Europe has grinded to a halt, costing those companies, and many others significant funds.

Although airplanes are once again taking to the skies, this recent incident is incredible validation of a point we’ve raised many times on Break Down the Walls … air travel for business is just so 90’s.

If business travelers and government employees stuck in Europe instead chose to meet face-to-face via VTC, they could still enjoy the natural communication experience of meeting in-person all from the safety of their own desks or conference rooms.

VTC enables the same collaboration and communication as an in-person meeting without the need to be in the same room. This means less air travel, and less chance of something like a randomly-erupting volcano in Iceland trapping employees in foreign countries. This also saves significant amounts of money by eliminating the need for expensive plane tickets, hotel rooms and other travel expenses.

In today’s economic and political environment, where the federal government is being pushed to cut expenses by the Obama administration, and where state and local governments are hard-pressed for tax revenue, that savings can go a long way.

Volcanoes may not have killed the dinosaurs (cigarettes did!) … but they just may kill business travel as we know it. VTC breaks down the walls between people and allows them to communicate naturally regardless of the miles separating them. Now that’s a new way of working.

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