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Volcano Fallout: Cisco Telepresence Helps Businesses Keep Moving

- May 13, 2010 - 29 Comments

The Iceland volcano has been shutting down airports again, most recently those in North Africa and Spain. The eruptions, which create ash clouds that threaten airplanes, are a powerful reminder of how best-laid plans can suddenly change, with little warning.

In addition to recent airport closures, the volcano, which began spewing a toxic plume of ash on April 14, grounded the majority of flights to, from, and within Europe for five days. So how do you keep your business moving forward when events beyond your control threaten to bring it to a sudden halt?

Many relied on technologies such as telepresence, videoconferencing, and WebEx as a way to keep going. 

Among those turning to Cisco TelePresence was Paul Dickinson, the CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a greenhouse reporting organization. The volcano prevented Dickinson from traveling to Beijing from London to interview three job applicants, according to Fortune. So Dickinson interviewed the applicants from London using Cisco TelePresence and ended up hiring one of them. 

“I realize now that you can even appoint someone remotely,” Dickinson told Fortune. “That’s pretty transformative.”

Cisco’s own executives benefitted from telepresence when grounded by the volcano eruption.

As fate would have it, Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Business Group Marthin De Beer was to fly from San Jose to Oslo to participate in a press conference announcing that Cisco had completed its voluntary offer for TANDBERG.

When De Beer’s flight was cancelled because of the ash cloud, he and Fredrik Halvorsen, senior vice president of Cisco’s TelePresence Technology Group and formerly TANDBERG’s CEO, held a virtual press conference together using TelePresence and TANDBERG equipment.

“I would have loved to have been in Europe with you guys,” De Beer said during the conference, as reported by international news agency AFP. “Thanks to telepresence, we are still able to do this, although it is two in the morning here and I don’t know how we can fix that.”

Only time will tell whether the Iceland volcano will mark a major transformation in how businesses bounce back after an unexpected event. One thing’s for certain, however. In an increasingly interconnected global economy, and our growing dependence on just-in-time supply chains, developing a solid plan for business continuity in the face of unforeseen events has never been more crucial.

“As the world (has) seen earthquakes, H1N1 and other disasters, it has really made businesses pause to think how they can use technology to create a sustainable business model,” De Beer told AFP.

One step businesses can take now, before the next unexpected occurs, is to test-drive telepresence, videoconferencing, and other collaboration technologies. Cisco’s Meeting on Us program provides a complimentary TelePresence meeting, while the TANDBERG FlyFree program offers a free videoconferencing meeting. You can sign up for a free 14-day WebEx trial, too.

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29 Comments

  1. Telepresence and this videoconferencing is the sign of the future even how far we can share our emotions.I am going to use this for some people out of state. This is creative problem solving powered by a CISCO communications system. Thanks a lot CISCO....

  2. I think these volcano activities in iceland will surely increase the number people who will use great software solutions like Telepresence. Fuel costs are one thing but the risk that some high rank business decision makers are sitting in (or near) an airport for days is too high in these days. This weekend again around 1,000 flights were canceled.

  3. Telepresence really would have been useful with this recent volcano issue cutting travel.If you want to know about 'how to last longer in bed'then just go to my url. thank you."

  4. This is creative problem solving powered by a CISCO communications system. The Internet, remote communications, and video conferencing combine to provide a backup system that allows businesses to cope with a communications crisis. I really enjoy seeing such works of art!

  5. Telepresence and this videoconferencing is the sign of the future even how far we can share our emotions. Even a disaster cannot stop the communicating and sharing emotions.

  6. Already many opt video conference for the first and second level interviews as it saves time and money from both sides. My husband usually requests for VC as preliminary selection as it can save lot of his time.

  7. Telepresence and videoconferencing is the future : businesses spend so much every year in travels for their employees... With the development of high speed Internet connection, a lot of time and money will be saved by companies. Thanks Cisco!

  8. I think these volcano activities in iceland will surely increase the number people who will use great software solutions like Telepresence. So people must be careful.

  9. Telepresence really would have been useful with this recent volcano issue cutting travel.

  10. I really like Telepresence, I think it helps cut down costs a lot

  11. I think had this incident happened 20 or so years ago, so of the business world would have be turned upside down. But, with today's technology you should have no problem getting everything done you need from a laptop and good internet connection.

  12. I can't believe how easily the world was ground to a hault by this ash cloud but it really puts into a perspective how much we rely on air travel to do business in foreign countries.Thankfully there's things like your Telepresence systems to fall back on when the worst does happen.Well done for keeping the world moving guys!

  13. We do around 75% of our meetings online these days, not because of the Volcano, but because of the spiraling fuel costs here in the UK. It saves us a lot of money and traveling time http://www.derszamani.net

  14. Well as per my knowledge air passengers are facing further travel chaos as airlines struggle to replace cancelled flights from the fallout from the Iceland volcano ash cloud & I think that Paul Dickinson from Cisco using Cisco Telepresence has done a fantastic job while taking the interviews & the most amazing thing is that he ended up selecting 1.

  15. Well the time zones are the only considerable downside to international virtual communications, but im sure that most businesses will be looking to implement this approach more and more over the next few years.

  16. As an agency continually trying to become more agile and streamlined, we are increasingly using online methods to replace face to face meetings when appropriate. It has definitely allowed us to focus more on what we need to, and has really had a positive effect on our costs.

  17. With the advent of true broadband, internet speed is getting faster these days and this is happening globally. We can now look forward to closing meeting online saving a lot of time and fuel traveling. Thanks for the link.

  18. I remember first seeing TelePresence in an episode of The Unit!We're not a massive company, but we do have a few workers around the country. We've been looking for decent online meeting software so I'll give WebEx a go.

  19. While there is nothing like face to face interaction to close a deal the ease and cost savings of online communication is leading to an increase in global sales for just about every business - but with a reliance on technology also comes a risk if the technology falters. And as David M points out global communication can be a challenge across time zones.

  20. I must admit with ever spiralling fuel costs we are looking to the internet more for solutions. Software is getting better and internet speeds are far faster.

  21. The volcano has erupted again and is causing problems traveling in europe again. The level og ashes is the highest ever meassured on Island.

  22. Yes, I agree that the volcano affected world-wide tourism alot. Especially, Asia tourism including Vietnam tourism. Many tourism could not come to Vietnam as they planed and many of them could not go home from Vietnam. I hope in the future, the prediction would be better. Tom Nguyen from: http://www.luxuryvietnamvacationpackages.com "

  23. Thanks for the link! I am going to use this for some people out of state. This is the future, we might as well get used to it.

  24. Outsourcing is a trend nowadays, Although I must admit that online workers are somehow a risk for the company because it's a no strings attach set-up, just make sure to look for the worker's online track records before hiring. Anyway, thanks for sharing free webEx trial link.Will try this and see it it will work out for us.

  25. My experience with Telepresence is very positive and it certainly reduces the travel budget. The only minor downside it the requirement schedule telepresence calls outside of the standard office hours, when linking to some countries.

  26. Cisco does it again. Who would think after all the people complaining that technology is taking over the world and ruining our lives, that it would help us through such troubling times.

  27. Telepresence really would have been useful with this recent volcano issue cutting travel. This must have been a bit of an eye opener for many businesses.

  28. Some of our staff are home-based and it can have an effect on team relations. Thanks for the link to the free webEx trial, we'll give it a go and see if it works for us.

  29. We do around 75% of our meetings online these days, not because of the Volcano, but because of the spiraling fuel costs here in the UK. It saves us a lot of money and traveling time, which ultimately can make us more competitive when quoting customers. Everyones a winner

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