In the late 2000s, Accenture wanted to streamline employee collaboration for its 180,000 employees distributed across offices in 40 different countries. They devised a plan: deploy high-end telepresence technology that would allow workers to interact face to face from anywhere in the world.
At that time, pundits predicted that video conferencing was poised to become a staple in every office and, as a result, business travel would substantially decrease. In fact, two environmental groups estimated that web-based and conventional video conferencing technology could reduce business travel by up to 20%.
That didn’t happen, however. Despite a steady increase in the adoption of video conferencing over the past decade, business travel also rose. U.S business travel costs increased from $262 billion in 2012 to $334.2 billion in 2019. It’s clear that corporate leaders still prefer in-person, face-to-face meetings over digital communications.
As we enter a new decade, though, the scope of business travel is changing dramatically. Several factors are poised to upend business travel, and this time things might be permanent. Let’s take a look at how communications technology has changed and what to expect in the coming years.