brockmann-telepresence_voiceconThe large plenary room at VoiceCon Orlando was its fullest all week when Al Gore and John Chambers gave their impassioned pleas for corporate (and policy) changes in support of reducing carbon emissions. By some estimates, there were 2000-2500 communications professionals in attendance in Orlando. The main stage was setup as shown in our sketch, but screens were blank at the start of the session. There were two very large screens at the extreme left and extreme right of the stage (not shown) onto which PowerPoints, demo screens and camera shots of the speakers were projected. From time to time, the telepresence feed was delivered to the large screens as the meeting producers discretion.

John Chambers, CEO Cisco participated from San Jose, former VP Al Gore participated from Nashville, a British journalist (not Ron Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell), but I couldn't find a reference to the journalist or his name) participated from the UK (with an auditorium full there) and a host of other participants webbed in from around the world including Dubai.

The format was a short introduction by Sue Bostrom, the Cisco CMO who participated live in Orlando. She introduced herself and her role in the panel and then with a single button on the Cisco phone (the conference can already been prescheduled and preconfigured), all three monitors blipped to life to the delight of the audience.

Sue introduced Al Gore, John and then the journalist, who began to ask 'softball' questions of Al, John and Sue. Softball? Well, not the hardball questions like I asked in this earlier post, but easy to answer questions like, 'Mr VP, where would you say the world is today in terms of its progress to mitigate the factors in climate change?' or 'Mr Chambers, what is Cisco doing to take its corporate responsibilities seriously and reduce carbon emissions?'

Overall, it was an impressive use of a demonstration at the heart of a keynote. Nice job Cisco. Nobody ever accused Cisco of having poor marketing.

Aside: At Nortel's Inform 2000, I was the MC (together with my carrier marketing counterpart Al Safarikas (now at Cisco)) and introduced our CEO John Roth who came to us live via video. It was a very solid demonstration of our networking prowess nearly a decade ago. 

Implications going forward:

  • Frequency of the use of telepresence in keynotes is going to increase. 
  • Emphasis on telepresence will increase demand for high definition (the more practical option).
  • Networks will proliferate while airlines will struggle to fill seats ($120 oil doesn't help either).
  • Demonstrations rock! Shame on the technology show keynoter with out demos.

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