Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cisco's pipe dream: mainstream enterprise adoption of telepresence

I've written before about why Cisco's push to bring video to the desktop won't achieve critical mass in the enterprise. While telepresence might be justified as an investment for large conference rooms in global enterprises, it fails to address major cost and complexity problems and human factors issues that have historically prevented large-scale video deployments from achieving mainstream adoption.

Joel Stein reminded me of this in a recent Time Magazine article he wrote. He covered problems surrounding Skype and video presence, saying, " ... Skype breaks the century-old social contract of the phone: We pay close attention while we're talking and zone out while you are."

That's just one of several funny, yet compelling comments Stein makes in a great op-ed column that, I think, is a must read for anyone interested in the human factors that drive communication and collaboration.

You can easily say the same of Cisco's WebEx, Microsoft's Live Meeting, and other screen- and app-share tools. How many times have you been on a WebEx or similar conference and put the phone on mute, checked e-mail, surfed the Web, took a mobile phone call, or walked away from your desk?

The fact of the matter is, we don't want to do video all the time. Cisco's pursuing a pipe dream, just like AT&T before them. The first video phones were shown at the 1964 New York World's Fair. They're still not mainstream. And they never will be.

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