Airline Hype vs. Collaboration Reality

Published 7/10/2012


David Danto


Principal Consultant - AV / Multimedia / Video / UC,

Dimension Data


Director of Emerging Technology, IMCCA



Just recently the airplane manufacturer Airbus Industries released results of a "two year global consultation" that came to some interesting conclusions. Apparently:

·         Social Media won’t replace face-to-face meetings.

·         Aviation is the real World Wide Web.

·         Over 60 percent of people will fly more by the year 2050.

·         People want to fly more than they do now despite social media and collaboration tools revolutionizing how people keep in touch.

Airbus came to these conclusions after speaking with 1.75 million people in 192 countries.

Umm... OK, but were any of those they spoke with people who actually use social media and collaboration tools? Even more than that, were any of those people recently at an airport?

Speaking for myself -- and I know I fly a lot more than most -- those conclusions seems way off-base. The business travelers I meet at airports and in airplanes are for the most part totally fed up with the airline industry. If I told them they could do their jobs without flying they’d break into spontaneous celebration.

What was once a glamorous perk is now -- quite literally -- a pain in the rear. Commercial business travel is at best a necessary evil. If you give a traveler access to effective tools for videoconferencing and collaboration he or she will opt to use it whenever possible. It will allow people to work as effectively as if they are in the same location.

If that means I can take even one less trip, deal with even one less underpaid, over-stressed, and surly airline worker, put even one less dollar in the pockets of an overpaid, clueless airline executive, or stand in even one less TSA line for the privilege of emptying my pockets and having my privates scanned -- then I’m in for sure.

Social media, unified communications tools, desktop video, telepresence -- all these tools most definitely will cause me to fly less and commute less in general as they inevitably continue to improve.

Using the devices in my home office now (desktop video appliance, two PCs, one iPad, and a myriad of really innovative Bluetooth/USB headsets, speakerphones, cameras, and accessories) I can give presentations to clients, collaborate with my full team, and be as effective a teammate as any one of my neighbors who waste a couple of hours a day commuting to an office. Now there’s the real travel saver -- not the elimination of the occasional flight but the elimination of the daily commute.

As for the airlines, I believe people will fly much less in the future, not just because of how good collaboration tools are and will continue to be, but also because the flying experiences will continue to get worse as airline firms keep cutting capacity, reducing costs, and unbundling charges. As for Airbus and its two-year global consultation... well, perhaps they should have consulted a mapmaker, as apparently denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.



This blog was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. It originally was published at UBM’s “The Video Enterprise” website that was closed down November 1st 2012.  Here is a link to the Google cache of the page with comments.  I do not know how long Google keeps these pages.


David has over 30 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He recently joined Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at or, he can be followed on Twitter @NJDavidD , and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at