For Brian Currier, assistant vice-president at Merrill Lynch in Portland, Oreg., the best marketing tactic is looking a potential client in the eye. So when a client at Intel suggested that Currier try out Intel's videoconferencing equipment (ProShare, $1,995), he jumped at the opportunity to make his everyday cold calls more personal. The videoconferencing unit has done that -- and less.

The problem is, right now there's nothing like a 1-555-1212 information number for videoconferencing customers. Currier spent more time trying to find people to talk to than actually doing the eye-to-eye thing. He did manage to track down one Intel exec who had the videoconferencing unit, with excellent results: one video call was all it took to get the exec to agree to a personal meeting. Currier was also able to do an entire portfolio review, via videoconferencing, with one of his clients.

If the people you do business with are hooked up, "this form of communication is incredible," he says. But until this is true on a large scale, Currier thinks he would wait to invest in videoconferencing.

A videoconferencing directory is in the works. According to Larry Gast, Intel's director of original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) marketing, Intel is working with other companies to put together a list of people and companies with videoconferencing units. Guess Currier's not the only lonely videoconferencing user out there.

-- Sarah Schafer

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