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Are You Ready to Bi-Locate?
Check this out: In an article on Cisco's collaboration strategy, our sister site, Information Week, describes how Margaret Hooshmand, executive assistant to Cisco Emerging Technologies Group leader Marthin DeBeer, works. She's "bi-located."
Check this out: In an article on Cisco's collaboration strategy, our sister site, Information Week, describes how Margaret Hooshmand, executive assistant to Cisco Emerging Technologies Group leader Marthin DeBeer, works. She's "bi-located."What that means is that she's sitting at a desk in Richardson, TX, but her image is conveyed, via high-def telepresence, to a cubicle outside DeBeers' office in San Jose, as the image at right shows. The connection is open and anyone stopping by the cube in San Jose can chat with her.
My thoughts about this are, first of all, it's nice that someone brought flowers to Virtual Margaret for her remote desk.
The real question, of course, is: Is this really necessary, or is it just a gimmick by Cisco?
My sense is that some high-def "desktop telepresence" may be a valuable thing for a niche of the market. Executive assistants are probably a good example.
But the whole cubicle thing is clearly a gimmick, sort of a demo to highlight the next stage that Cisco wants to take this technology. It runs counter to the real trend that IP communications and telecommuting has unleashed, which is office "hoteling," or several people sharing a single workspace, with each only using it occasionally. No company is going to start dedicating a significant amount of office space to people who never set foot in the joint, especially in high-rent districts like Manhattan.
So how would anyone actually use this take on telepresence? If lots of executives wanted their remotely-based admins on telepresence--and weren't willing to give them their own cubes at a site where they never are--would they really want to "share" their own executive office with this virtual soul? If not, where do they put the screen?
Maybe the executive has a high-def screen hanging on his or her wall in the office, and can toggle between views of various people: Admin, top direct reports, whoever. And maybe the system also has a "mute" function that lets the exec shut out sound and video when he or she needs privacy.
As we grow increasingly likely to see telephone sets disappear from the desktops of people who don't use them pretty constantly, I don't think lots of desktops are going to get high-def telepresence.
Still, Cisco keeps pushing the envelope, and I think they're going to be the leaders in opening up people's minds to new (and often expensive) ways of working.