I had the chance to join 50 other people at a telepresence event last week. This one took place in real-time using Cisco's TelePresence rooms. (Okay, full disclosure, it was a Cisco industry analyst event held on December 9th.)
(This is a long post, so for those looking for key lessons and gotchas, just scroll now to the bottom.)
For those of you who've been asleep for the last 4 years as first HP and then Cisco followed by LifeSize, Polycom, RADVISION, Tandberg, and Teliris demonstrated the like-being-there experience of telepresence, it's pretty amazing stuff. Video conferencing with near face-time quality. You can in fact see the whites of their eyes.
Companies like P&G, GE, and Dreamworks are using telepresence technology to slash executive travel and give technical staff the tools to collaborate across massive distances with almost the same experience as being there (save the ability to shake hands, share a meal, and have a side conversation).
I first experienced telepresence in 2004 at HP's Corvallis, OR, lab, and it blew me away back then. It's only gotten better. (Colleague Claire Schooley has calculated the ROI of telepresence for those thinking about this technology.)
Back to this telepresence event:
Cisco used 12 telepresence rooms in at eight cities: Boston, New York, San Jose, Toronto, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Bedfont outside London.
Much a'twitter today about a possible Google phone — not just another Android "with Google" phone like the various existing models from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, but a phone solely branded and sold by Google. TechCrunch has reported that the phone will be made by HTC and sold unlocked (that is, direct to consumers rather than through operator channels) beginning in January 2010.
I must emphasize that these details are speculation at this point, unconfirmed by Google (other than a validating post that Google gave out this model of phone to a number of employees). Nevertheless, it's worth considering the implications of this, should it prove true. The most important question is:
Will the phone be sold at full retail price, or will it be subsidized?
Since 2004, I have been arguing in my research that the tech market would enter a new cycle of innovation and growth starting in 2008. This thesis was based on my review of the US tech market since the 1950s, which showed a pattern of eight-to-ten year cycles of strong growth in tech purchases, followed by eight years of modest growth. This pattern had repeated three times, first with the introduction of mainframe computers in the late 1950s and 1960s, then with the arrival of personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s, and then with ERP software, client-server systems, and the Internet in the period from 1992 to 2000. Based on this pattern, I predicted that the tech market (at least in the US) would grow at about the same rate as the overall economy from 2004 to 2007 as business "digested" that third wave of technology, then decline in 2007 or 2008 due to a recession in that period ("IT Spending Outlook: 2004 To 2008 And Beyond -- Waiting For The Next Big Thing": http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,35063,00.html; "Expect A Tech Slowdown Before The Next Boom -- Forrester's Long-Term IT Spending Forecast For The US, 2005-2010": http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,37816,00.html). While not all aspects of these predictions have come true, overall I believe they were a generally accurate forecast of what happened in the tech market from 2004 to 2008.
Do you truly understand your workforce and what they need from technology? Hint, it's a loaded question. You might think so, but you'd probably be wrong. They're not like you. Not at all.
We weren't sure, either, which is why we surveyed 2,001 US information workers -- people that use computers in their jobs to find out what technology they use and what they need to be successful in their jobs.
We discovered something that consumer market researchers have known for generations: Not everybody needs or wants the same stuff. So we drew on our decade of experience with quantitative analysis and created a segmentation that highlights the differences between employees based on their need for location flexibility (mobility) and their application use:
Location flexibility, a.k.a., mobility -- drives differences in the need for smartphones, wireless networks, collaboration tools, and telecommuting support.
Application use drives differences in social computing, consumerization of IT, and tolerance for virtual desktops.
Just thinking about Mexico and the cards it was dealt getting blamed for swine flu. I was recently in Europe, and was surprised to hear friends refer to H1N1 as the “grippe mexicaine” or “Mexican flu”. There is even a dedicated website by the same name — http://www.lagrippemexicaine.com/. You don’t hear that in the US. We may demonize the swines but not our neighbors, the Mexicans. But, even the Mexican press attributes the outbreak to local pigs, hence the theory this particular flu had its origins in Mexico. That theory or the flu itself is blamed in part for the severity of their economic downturn – along with the global financial crisis (and in particular its dependence on the US) and domestic drug wars.
Maybe it’s because it’s planning season. Maybe it’s because they’re just tired of focusing on cost-cutting and incremental improvements. Or maybe the IT to Business Technology (BT) shift – where the boundary between IT and the business is blurred as businesses become ever more technology dependent and technologically savvy – is becoming a reality and pushing CIOs to stay even further ahead of their business counterparts.