Travel Bans Must Not Deter Business as Usual
By Alex Zavistovich
Dec 24, 2001 - 10:09:00 AM
When President Bush vowed to the American public on the evening of September 11 that America's economy would be open for business the next day, it was a gesture that the
country would not be brought to a standstill by terrorism.
At the same time, press reports show a trend among companies, including Intel and Sun Microsystems, as well as many other large corporations, to suspend air travel indefinitely for the safety of their employees. Despite this increasing trend toward banning corporate travel, industry observers are urging America to heed the President and begin returning to "business as usual."
Geoff Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting, stressed the need for the American economy to quickly get back on track. Bobroff is a prominent consultant to the financial services industry. "It is likely that U.S. markets may decline as much as five or ten percent from our current levels as a result of the attack on America," Bobroff estimated. "The rebuilding of business needs to take place right away. We can't let the economy stop; too much depends on it."
Bobroff acknowledged, however, that with corporate bans on business travel and heightened security measures, "American air travel will become much more complicated. Businesses will need to look for alternatives. For organizations with global communications needs, it makes tremendous sense to use teleconferencing and any other technological tools at their disposal to quickly return to business as usual."
Andrew W. Davis is managing partner at Brookline, Massachusetts-based Wainhouse Research, a market research consultancy specializing in conferencing technologies and applications. Davis spoke plainly about the need to put American business back on track. "If we don't return to business as usual as quickly as possible, the terrorists will have won," Davis said. "American power is derived from economic strength more than anything else, and we can't maintain economic strength if we crawl into a business activity hole with our heads down. With technology, we have credible, viable, effective alternatives to travel, alternatives that can enable us to go about rebuilding America and American business." Davis, like Bobroff, cited advances in teleconferencing as a practical way to circumvent corporate travel bans.
In the hours immediately following the tragedy, Ken Hayward, CEO of V-SPAN, saw a 30 to 50 percent increase in demand for teleconferencing solutions. V-SPAN is a King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based provider of video-, audio- and Webconferencing services, as well as streaming media delivery. "American businesspeople have shown remarkable resiliency," Hayward says. "Almost immediately, they began to use a host of conferencing solutions to reach out to their employees domestically and internationally. Throughout this tragedy, they have done their best to not lose a step."
Hayward, who saw similar use of technology as far back as the Gulf crisis in 1991, predicts that demands for teleconferencing and similar solutions to connect worldwide corporate offices may spike as much as 100 percent over previous levels in the near term.
The experts remain confident about the future of the American economy, as business as usual returns. "Because of the vibrant nature of the U.S. economy in general, I'm convinced that this tragic stimulus will lead to more robust growth in coming years than might have otherwise been possible," said Bobroff.
"The American spirit will prevail," said Davis. "No limit on travel will deter American business from rising above this tragedy."
Added Hayward, "We are seeing a moving unity among Americans. We are all committed to business as usual. We are all up to the challenge."
Alex Zavistovich, is a freelance technology writer based in Silver Spring, MD. To find out more about how V-SPAN enables it's customers to conduct effective electronic meetings, events, and training visit www.vspan.com or call 888-44-VSPAN ExpertMagazine.com 2001
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