Survey: Events of Sept. 11 won't increase virtual meetings

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Cambridge, Mass.--The events of Sept. 11 will not give a boost to the use of remote meeting Internet platforms, according to a new Forrester Research Inc. survey.Forrester's findings, based on interviews with more than 800 large and midsize companies, run counter to the conventional wisdom that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 would slow down corporate travel and spur the use of the Internet to hold virtual meetings. Indeed, the survey found that executives on average expected a 6% decrease in remote meeting technologies and a 6% increase in business travel spending.Forrester cited poor technology development in available virtual meeting platforms as one reason for the findings. "Take a closer look at that technology and you'll see it's too clumsy, awkward and impersonal to spark a major investment," said David Weisman, VP-global research, in a statement. As for business travel, Weisman said, "Company travel budgets are up because, although many people remain too frightened to fly, businesses are still committed to allocating travel resources to keep employees in the field." Separately, the survey found that companies across most industries have cut back IT budgets since the beginning of the year. Financial services companies, the biggest buyers of e-business technologies, have cut budgets by 1.7% since the beginning of the year; manufacturers have cut budgets by 6.3%. Distributors and business services companies have slashed IT budgets since the beginning of the year by 2.5% and 12%, respectively.

--Philip B. Clark

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