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Interactions: Real vs. Virtual

June 13, 2007
at 12:00 pm PST

Cisco TelePresence. Cisco WebEx. Cisco MeetingPlace. Unified Communications. Cisco is strong and long in the collaboration space. This IS the way the new workplace is being managed, designed and implemented. However, as John Chambers said in his commentary in Forbes magazine: technology cannot replace a handshake.From a technology company, saying this might be sacrilege, and while Telepresence technology makes you feel like you are in the room with the other person and is the next best thing to being there, there is something about sitting across the table at lunch and talking that is tough to replace.I had lunch with a reporter today and we had a free-ranging conversation today about his newspaper, my company and many, many points in between. I’ve known him for a long time and we could have done a phone call, but I (and he) likely would have been doing e-mail at the same time or had other distractions that wouldn’t have focused us as much on the conversation at hand. We had no agenda other than catching up…he seeing what I was working on…me, the same for him.Could I have used TelePresence, WebEx or MeetingPlace to do the meeting? Sure. Would it have been as beneficial to both of us? No. However, after having met for lunch to catch up a bit, I think we can now use e-mail, phone and other technologies to tied us over until our next lunch somewhere down the road. Handshakes and physical presence is very important to relationships…we are social beings, but I have to say, technology is doing a heck of a good job re-creating the look and feel of “being there” and it will only get better.

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