"The knowing guest who goes to the feast,
In silent attention sits;
With his ears he hears, with his eyes he watches,
Thus wary are wise men all."
-- From "Havamal," attributed to Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology.

And so the knowing guest and every wise man would rather do business face-to-face than by throwing a context-free voice across the ether. The Vikings and those before them knew it -- and the value of full-flavored human interaction has not lessened since those ancient times.

Networking giant Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) tapped into that need for quality communications when it bought video conferencing expert Tandberg in a $3.3 billion blockbuster deal that Cisco announced was closed as of Monday morning. Cisco's interest in the teleconferencing sector stretches way back as the company's TelePresence systems have been the apple of CEO John Chambers' eye for years. This buyout raised public awareness of video conferencing as a concept, helping send the share price of Tandberg competitor Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) skyward and possibly scuttling a private-equity buyout that Polycom had brewing. It's safe to say that teleconferencing is a hot topic right now.

The eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekul plays right into this burgeoning technology's rise to stardom. With airline traffic stopped across northern Europe on a scale not seen since 9/11, business meetings are being canceled by the jetload -- or rescheduled as some form of teleconference.

In a delicious serving of cosmic irony, transportation ministers of the European Union are meeting via video conference to discuss what to do about this massive disruption. Cisco representatives report that interest in its telepresence facilities spiked when the eruption hit, and the event is forcing many businesses and governments to give video-powered teleconferencing a try.

The industry is maturing and consolidating rapidly with players like Logitech International (Nasdaq: LOGI) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) dipping their toes in video-conferencing waters. Polycom is the last of the big, independent operators here and seems destined for some sort of merger or buyout in the near future.

Eyjafjallajoekul is hurting airlines that have heavy European exposure like Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL), and large disruptions are never good for business in general. But this eruption is perfectly timed to get potential customers to try out this newfangled video conferencing idea at a time when the technology itself and the worldwide networking infrastructure seem just about ready for a turn in the global spotlight. Cisco and Polycom should send thank-you cards to Odin and Thor.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, but he does appreciate a chance to work some Viking verse into this year's National Poetry Month. Polycom is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Logitech is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation, Motley Fool Options has recommended a write covered calls position on Logitech, and The Fool owns shares of Logitech. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.