The true story about global companies and whether they really like to talk to the troops via satellites and other such gizmos is soon to be told.
The sellers of these fantastic wares - British Telecom, Mercury and British Aerospace - would have us believe that we are entering hot times for long-distance videoconferencing and business television. (Closed circuit TV is the means by which companies like BMW and Federal Express cheer on and inform their staff worldwide.) A survey in late 1990 suggested otherwise - estimates for the videoconferencing market were downgraded to £650 million, from £1.4 million 18 months previously.
But British Telecom says that the Gulf war - during which time many executives refused to fly - appears to have brought a permanent upturn in the market. BAe also reports that for UK business television to have attracted 10 major clients in just one year is a promising start. (The United States has only 21 networks going.)
So what is the true story for the future? Aspen Business Communications and KPMG Management Consultants are now surveying 20 of the world's top 100 companies to see what their five-year plans on internal communications are. Is it still to be planes, post and face to face for our global firms? Or will the heyday of electronics and long-distance talk-ins really take over? Watch this space.