provide 4 answers to the 4 questions at the end after reading this case: Cisco Systems: Telepresence and the Future of Collaboration If you want

provide 4 answers to the 4 questions at the end after reading this case: Cisco Systems: Telepresence and the Future of Collaboration If you want to catch a glimpse of the future of knowledge work in the twenty-first century, a good place to start is a small family homestead outside Germantown, Illinois, 40 miles east of St. Louis. That’s where Craig Huegens, director of architecture for networks, data centers, and unified communication services at Cisco Systems, lives and works. When Huegens moved there from northern California in December 2000, it was for the most basic of reasons: He wanted his newborn son to grow up around family, who now live just five miles down the road. Nevertheless, it was something of a revolutionary concept because Huegens was Cisco’s first full-time IT telecommuter. Back then, he got by using e-mail and Internet Relay Chat, a primordial form of instant messaging. It took some accommodation on the part of both Huegens and his colleagues back in San Jose, but they made it work. Over the last seven years, Huegens has become the spearpoint for the philosophy and technology at the center of Cisco’s biggest strategic shift since the tech bubble burst in 2001—“Cisco 3.0,” as CEO and chairman John Chambers likes to call it. Cisco 1.0 was all about getting people connected by selling truckloads of routers and switches, and it made the company, founded in 1984 by a small group of computer scientists out of Stanford University, one of the fastestgrowing in American business history. Cisco 2.0, Chambers says, was centered on business process change—using all that hardware and, of course, a few truckloads of new gear, like information processing telephones—to drive innovation and productivity gains. Cisco 3.0 employs even more hardware and software to transform business models, and Chambers, with characteristic evangelical fervor, says it will fundamentally change the nature of work, enabling productivity growth to soar back into the realms last seen in the economic surge of the late 1990s. “We believe that productivity can grow not at 1 percent or 2 percent, but 3 percent to 5 percent for the sustainable future,” says Chambers in an interview in his office in Cisco’s San Jose headquarters. That’s an audacious vision, and it will be driven, Chambers maintains, by the type of collaborative, Web 2.0 technology that now keeps Huegens in touch with his team in San Jose: interactive Web forums like wikis and blogs; IM; interactive “teamspaces” mounted on WebEx (which Cisco acquired in March for $3.2 billion); and above all, videoconferencing and its big brother, telepresence, which is a lifesize, high-def, multiple-screen system for face-to-face meetings among users in multiple locations. The question is: Is Cisco’s latest initiative just Videoconferencing 2.0, or is it really something revolutionary? The new emphasis on intensely collaborative technologies at Cisco, a company that epitomizes the catchphrase “eating our own dog food,” ups the ante for CIO Rebecca Jacoby. She assumed that post just over a year ago and has been the point person for rolling out telepresence and other new-age tools to the demanding in-house customers at Cisco. Jacoby, who’s been at Cisco for 13 years but is a selfdescribed nontechie (she came up through the manufacturing ranks), takes over at an interesting time. Not only is she Cisco’s first female CIO, succeeding the semilegendary Brad Boston, now senior vice president of the Global Government Solutions Group, she is also ing to lead Cisco through a transformation as radical as any in the company’s 24-year history. To do so, Jacoby says, Cisco is making itself the test bed for the next generation of collaboration tools. Like many Cisco executives today, Jacoby has a single-screen telepresence unit in a small back room off her office in San Jose. Since it began to roll out the immersive conferencing technology in late 2006, Cisco has deployed telepresence rooms in 160 of its offices worldwide. When Chambers first talked to Jacoby about taking on the CIO job, she wasn’t sure she really wanted the spotlight that goes with being the chief IT executive for one of the world’s most powerful and venerated IT companies. The prospect of transforming the entire company, however, “was irresistible to me,” she says. Jacoby realized that the conventional role of IT—acquiring and deploying new technologies and educating employees on using them—was now, at least in part, flipped. “When you talk about the collaboration tools out there, they’re not necessarily initiated by IT,” she says. Much of what Jacoby talks about is hardly earthshattering— she has become an enthusiastic user of video blogs, or vlogs, she says—but its pervasive use at a company of Cisco’s size and age is probably unusual. With a globalized workforce of highly connected, tech-savvy users, the adoption and learning flow both ways, to and from Cisco’s IT group. Jacoby calls it “creating an environment of directed participation,” in which the tools already being used by Cisco employees are adapted, refined, and sharpened to drive innovation and growth. “Our biggest challenge,” she says, “is just keeping up with where these ideas are going and seeing how we can participate in how they are shaped and focused.” One of the initiatives Jacoby and her team have undertaken is to create an online “communications center of excellence,” where new collaboration tools—from wikis to vlogs to telepresence—can be deployed, tested, and refined. Video, she says, is “phenomenally effective,” particularly when communicating with employees outside the United States. Equally powerful has been Cisco’s I-Zone wiki, a companywide forum for new business ideas launched not by IT but by the Emerging Technologies Group, headed by Marthin DeBeer. Live for 18 months, the wiki has produced 600 ideas for potential one-billion-dollar-per-annum-size ventures (the minimum level for Cisco to get behind a new business), suggested by the company’s more than 61,000 employees. Reflecting Chambers’s mantra that to lead the next phase of the Internet Cisco must constantly reinvent its own processes, the focus on collaboration has also spurred a reorganization of the company’s hierarchy. Beginning in the painful 2001 meltdown, when Cisco posted a net loss of $1 billion, Chambers led a shift from the usual product, sales and marketing, and other functional groups toward a more horizontal, less command-and-control structure of “councils, boards, and task forces.” “The councils focus on $10 billion-plus opportunities, the boards on $1 billion opportunities, and the task forces are the implementation of any of the above,” Chambers says. It sounds like a somewhat communistic way of reshaping a $35 billion-a-year company, but for Chambers this new structure is key to the company’s regeneration. “The first few years were pretty painful,” Chambers admits. “It’s like anything you do—usually it’s not the technology that’s your limiting factor, it’s people, and getting them to change from, instead of command and control, to collaboration.” Cisco, however, makes its living leading technology changes, and the key to Cisco 3.0 will be the most sophisticated and expensive: telepresence. DeBeer’s executive assistant, Margaret Hooshmand, can be found almost every day outside his office in San Jose. Only she’s not really there ; she’s at the Cisco office in Richardson, Texas, and she bilocates via telepresence to the cubicle adjoining DeBeer’s office. You can walk by (in San Jose) and chat with her any time, and if you don’t remind yourself, you’ll forget to ask her how the weather is in central Texas. Telepresence was the first new product to emerge from DeBeer’s Emerging Technologies Group, and it ramped up in record time, from hiring the first engineer in February 2005 to shipping the first external system in December 2006. Among the design principles, or “Telepresence Rules,” DeBeer’s team devised were: “People will always appear lifesize” and “To initiate a meeting you have to do just one thing,” for example, press a button on the handset. If you look behind the curtain, as it were, you’ll see that the whole thing runs through a single Ethernet cable. It’s a superb piece of technology. “Cisco is betting on a proprietary approach,” says Michelle Damrow, head of product marketing for competitor Polycom’s telepresence group. “We think standardsbased communications will win eventually.” Indeed, Cisco faces strong competition in this nascent market from the likes of HP, which introduced its Halo telepresence system before the Cisco product launched, and from videoconferencing leader Polycom, which offers a high-end telepresence system with merged, seamless displays, as opposed to Cisco’s three-separate-screens approach. Damrow notes Polycom is betting on a standards-based system that will interoperate with any standards-based video codex on the market today. The answer, as you might expect, is that Cisco believes its installed base, its brand power, and its marketing muscle will push enough TelePresence units into the market to allow it to become the de facto standard. Telepresence itself, says Chambers, will be offered as an on-demand managed service at off-site locations for companies that can’t or don’t want to invest in their own systems. When interoperability among multiple vendors does come, it will be on Cisco’s terms, not industry-imposed. If that’s not quite Web 2.0 enough for you, well, welcome to John Chambers’s world. to a threescreen, high-definition, surround-sound theater near you. What are the main business benefits of the collaboration technologies described in the case? How do these go beyond saving on corporate travel? Provide several specific examples. Michelle Damrow of Polycom notes Cisco is betting on a proprietary standard for its TelePresence product, while competitors are going with interoperability. Do you agree with Cisco’s strategy? Why or why not? Defend your answer. Think about the I-Zone wiki described in the case, Cisco’s forum for new business ideas, and its seeming success in that regard. Why do you think that is the case? Do these technologies foster creativity, provide an opportunity to communicate already existing ideas, or both? Defend your answer.

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