Change the Need to Travel

Business travel seems to have taken off again. But the truth is that jet-setting executives may soon go the way of the dinosaurs.

Not long ago almost every business function required a trip.

I used to cover Asia Pacific – and that meant over 20 countries. I hated it after a while. There were even times when I made day trips to India – I would leave Singapore at night, arrive in India in the morning, Indian time, and leave India around midnight Indian time.

But there are those who relish being road warriors; I guess it gives them a sense of importance.

People flew for the slightest reason – to meet with clients, to meet with suppliers, to meet with colleagues, for training, to connect with the troops, etc.

Thousands of trips add up to millions of dollars, not to mention tons of CO2.

But now, by using world class unified communications and collaboration solutions and services any meeting anywhere can be just a click away.

Indeed, in this day and age, where very technological advanced and powerfully effective communication and meeting tools are cheaply available, do you really, really need to travel?

Of course, nothing can replace human presence, but I have often found that a private personal phone call is a great way to make a direct connection with someone.

Nowadays, technology can even enable us to hold entire all-hands-on-deck town hall meetings – which have their purposes – but lots of work-related issues can also be resolved with a phone call, no need at all to mobilize the troops.

With ever escalating operational costs, companies should be wary of execs who insist that they have to travel. They can’t be too wise, can they?

Remember, people are hired to be part of the solution, not to become a part of the problem!

In fact, nowadays, in enlightened circles, business travel is actually frowned upon when, extended across an enterprise, unified communications and collaboration capabilities have the potential to transform traditional work and travel habits.

Cisco, for example, realized many years ago that 49% of travel was for internal reasons. It has practically eliminated travel for internal meetings, reducing it by 99%. The company has also reduced training-related travel by 98%.

So in this day and age, if someone complains with an exaggerated shake of the head and a loud sigh that he’s living out of a suitcase and traveling too much because of work, as if it’s such a curse, (“but what to do, someone’s got to get the job done”), he’s probably not working for a very enlightened organization or he’s doing it to inflate his own ego, or worse, he’s taking his company for a ride, finding excuses to go on vacations on company expense and pocketing per diem money, air-miles and whatnot. (Yes, there ARE people like that, and most of them have lost their jobs!)

Whenever I come across such “international jet-setting” execs, I immediately form a negative impression of his or her company; I can’t help thinking it cannot be a very well-managed company.