American Express is unveiling its virtual meetings eXpert, an offering that expands businesses' options for virtual meetings and helps companies determine whether a particular meeting would be better done online or face-to-face. The solution is designed to help businesses increase their collaboration capabilities while driving down travel costs. American Express' move comes at a time when some companies, like Cisco, are finding significant savings through virtual meetings.
American Express is jumping into the virtual meeting space.
American Express Business Travel is conducting a pilot of its new virtual
meetings eXpert offering, which will act as an aggregator of public
telepresence facilities and private networks that businesses may already have
In addition, the solution, announced Aug. 18, also will help businesses
decide whether a particular meeting would be best suited by traveling to the
site or conducting it online.
The goal is to offer businesses a way to save money in their travel budget
by increasing the number of meetings that can be conducted via the Internet,
according to Charles Petruccelli, president of American Express Global Travel
"Ultimately, we believe that both virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings
should be components of a best-in-class corporate travel and expenses program,"
Petruccelli said in a statement. "By being able to rely on an automated
process, companies can feel confident that employees are making the right
decision when it comes to travel versus virtual meetings, and taking advantage
of every opportunity to save while maintaining travel that is strategically
Petruccelli's comments echo those of John Chambers, Cisco Systems' chairman
and CEO. In several public appearances this
year, Chambers has extolled
of virtual meetings in increasing collaboration while driving
He also sees it as part of a greater trend toward the use of video in
business and the merging of consumer and commercial technologies.
At Cisco's Partner Summit June 4, Chambers demonstrated how the company's
Flip video camera and Telepresence online collaboration technology can be used
in a business scenario. He also said that Cisco has successfully used video and
Web 2.0 technologies to cut costs. When Cisco announced its Unified Computing
System in March, the vendor reduced the cost of the major event by 90 percent
through the use of video, Telepresence and other technologies.
Cisco also now uses Telepresence for its largest internal meetings, which
helps significantly cut costs for those events, Chambers said.
"Physical meetings inside Cisco are dinosaurs," he said in June. "We've done
our last big physical meeting. It will not happen again."
American Express' offering looks to help other businesses see similar
benefits. Using such criteria as the price, duration, purpose and environmental
impact of a trip, its virtual meetings eXpert solution, at the time of booking,
will give users a heads up on telepresence and virtual meetings opportunities,
and then will help businesses decide if it makes sense to send somebody to the
meeting or conduct it online.
The solution also enables larger companies that already have their own
telepresence capabilities to expand their reach, and gives smaller businesses
greater access to virtual meeting technologies, American Express officials
The company currently is running a pilot with a Fortune 500 company,