Friday, February 22, 2008

CISCO's Renaud on Working Virtually

From Information Week; "Another problem that virtual worlds can help solve: Isolation of remote workers. Renaud works in an Iowa home office for a company based in San Jose, Calif. He said that virtual worlds can replace the hallway encounters and water-cooler conversations where most work in a company gets done. "You can bump into people serendipitously in a virtual world," Renaud said. Renaud said he is baffled why companies are leaving Second Life. "I get a chance to talk to a trade show's worth of people for a tenth of the cost of a trade show, all the time," he said. "Second Life is for any company that has customers." Renaud added that he frequently has random encounters in Second Life with Cisco customers. "In 12 years, I've never had a random encounter with a customer in the Cisco parking lot," he said. (We wrote about Cisco's Second Life initiatives in April.) You can't have those kinds of encounters with videoconferencing or telepresence, Renaud said. "I've done those Hollywood Squares or Brady Bunch videoconferences, where everyone is three pixels by three pixels. They're useless. At that point, give me an avatar." Cisco sells videoconferencing and telepresence equipment, and views virtual worlds as complementary.

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