Businesses prefer Skype to shaking hands -

Businesses prefer staring at screens over meeting face to face.

Web conferencing has seen a consistent boom since it started - and the likes of Skype making it easy to use is appealing for business. According to analysts at Ovum, web conferencing will grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 18 percent in the next five years as companies and their clients do their best to avoid literally greasing each other's hands. 

By 2015, global business spending on web conferencing will be close to $2.7 billion by 2015 - compared to the $1.2 billion spent in 2010. 

The growth in web conferencing makes sense, says Ovum: with globalisation and home-based working, staff and businesses are spread all over the shop and it's worth spending money on a Cisco teleconferencing product, for example, over a business-class round-trip jolly from the States to Japan. While cost is a factor, cutting carbon spending scores browny points too. 

As video streaming improves so does the popularity of web conferencing. "The technology is maturing and can now offer a quantifiable and much strong return on investment," says report author Richard Thurston, "Because of this, we expect rapid growth in web conferencing to occur over the next five years."

While businesses may favour teleconferencing, a recent survey by Cable & Wireless reveals that plenty in the UK at least think they are more likely to clinch a deal if they meet in person.

Matt Key, managing director of enterprise at Cable & Wireless has said in a statement: "What this research demonstrates very clearly is the importance that people still place in actually seeing peers and associates to discuss business matters.

"Both telephone and video communications have an important role to play, particularly in the workplace. However, this research clearly shows that telephone conference calls are best suited for a shorter conversation while video conferencing can ensure that people are focused for longer.

"It seems video calls are better for discussions where it is important to not only hear what is being said but also see how people on the other end are expressing themselves. Video conferencing is particularly well suited to greater numbers of participants and meetings where visual props need to be discussed."

According to the report, 87 percent of Brits think meeting in person is a winner when sealing the deal and closing sales.