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How Web Conferencing Is Helping HIV/AIDS Patients in Kenya

profile_dr_ndwigaThis post was written by Dr. Stanley Ndwiga, Outreach/Project Doctor at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. It was originally published on the Huffington Post.

Ten years ago, an AIDS epidemic was ravaging Kenya and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In one year alone, as many as 40,000 Kenyan infants were born HIV-positive, and only 30 percent of them could expect to see to their 5th birthday. Millions of Kenyan adults succumbed to AIDS, orphaning many millions more.

Today, thanks to better drugs, community outreach, and education, fewer Kenyans are acquiring HIV, and the number of those who have AIDS has fallen to 1.2 million, or 1 in 20 Kenyan adults. It is still a significant number, and we have a lot of work yet to do.

At Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi, clinicians have been given a big boost in that effort through web conferencing technology.

Photo courtesy Gertrude's Children's Hospital

Photo courtesy Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital

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Got Mobility? Check. Now What?

The mobility discussion isn’t fresh off the presses. BYOD isn’t something you have to look up to remember what the D represents. But much of the business-mobility discussion still focuses around smartphones and basic access. It’s a pretty limited view when you consider the potential beyond the petri dish of e-mail and calendaring.


Take me to your keyboard…

Having access to my work e-mail and calendar on my smartphone is good stuff. As is having my choice of phones. And even the simple tools benefit my productivity, while letting me have a life beyond my job. Surprise, surprise: Sometimes “work happens” outside the normal work hours of my particular time zone. And, yes, “life happens” during my normal work hours.

I could be productive on a laptop from home, but my dog would soon gnaw through my keyboard in protest. (Hastened by prodding from my kid and a jar of peanut butter.) But she doesn’t mind if I check and answer e-mail at the dog park.

She’s a pretty advanced dog. She even accepts the need for instant messaging and an occasional WebEx conference, although her presence typically requires liberal use of the mute button.

Beyond the Basics
So, what’s missing? Once people get over the novelty of e-mail and calendaring, they look for more. If they can slingshot birds across the universe, book airline flights, and deposit checks on these pocket-sized supercomputers, shouldn’t they be able to do more?

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From Product Strategy to Implementation

Looking at the history of video collaboration there are a few identifiable transition points.  The introduction of audio and video delivery over IP networks created opportunities for widespread affordable deployments and the video conferencing market began to expand.  The scale of deployments, however, was in general neither large nor pervasive.  In 2006/2007 new offerings (like the CTS 3000 from Cisco’s TelePresence team) introduced highly reliable, full HD (1080p), full motion (30fps) experiences with a level of simplicity making it operable by any user irrespective of technical knowledge.  As Full HD became available across the breadth of video conferencing platforms, the whole market rapidly doubled over the following two to three years.  This created another market pillar in collaboration.

Push the clock forward 6 or so years to today…

The distinction between video conferencing, unified communications and web conferencing is now very blurred:

  • The user community has matured.  They are no longer satisfied with connecting over audio, video or content.  They want to achieve the startup experience of small, tightly connected teams across a geographically dispersed workforce.  This means leveraging all of the above features where and when needed, in a simple and intuitive way.
  • IM, presence, audio, video and content collaboration are becoming Read More »

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WebEx and TelePresence – Better Together

At Enterprise Connect I was delighted to see the excitement generated by Cisco’s announcement that brings together our market leading Cisco WebEx and TelePresence  solutions.  Recently I discussed this initiative in more detail with a colleague, Richard Mullen, looking at how TelePresence and WebEx working together supports our vision of pervasive conferencing and enables users to meet with anyone, anywhere, on any device.

In particular, I highlight three key factors in a successful meeting Read More »

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Virtual Work Works, But Don’t Confuse Technology with Change Management

I was in a brainstorm meeting about my team’s next-generation strategy last week, and we made a number of random connections that knitted together a pretty big idea — the kind of dot-connecting that only happens when people with different (and sometime conflicting) perspectives trust each other in the pursuit of an important goal.

Five of us worked on the idea, but only two of us were in the room physically together. Yes, I’ll say it out loud:  three people were working from home.

Much has been said and written recently about the value of working virtually, and I don’t think you can sub-divide mobility into “at home” and “on the road.” Social technologies, video and mobile platforms make it easy to work from just about anywhere.

But as leaders, we have to resist the temptation to confuse technology with change management — despite our love affair with technology. Any time technology brings a sea-change transformation to the way humans do stuff, especially work stuff, we can’t forget that people work in organizations — and organizations are an amalgam of culture, processes and technology.

All of Cisco’s experience has taught us that Read More »

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