[Tom Davies, director of data center services for Tata Communications, the telecom arm of the Indian conglomerate Tata] does use Web 2.0 and social networking tools to interact with his global team of 12 product developers who help architect Tata's data center services offerings, tools such as instant messaging, voice over IP, Web conferencing, and PC-to-PC videoconferencing over Skype. Also, at least once a month, Davies, who works out of his home in Orlando, Fla., travels to Tata's Herndon, Va., corporate office to participate in a videoconference with company officials in India using Cisco's high-end, room-sized TelePresence system.
The Wall Street Journal has an article today about the competition between Cisco and Hewlett-Packard for these high-end telepresence systems, which cost more than $100,000 each and, the Journal reports, can run $9,900 a month per location. I haven't used one of these systems, but every single person I've spoken with who has says the performance is amazingly good. The ROI's built on travel costs and time savings; Polycom cites a court system using one of its more mid-level systems to avoid transporting prisoners from jail to court and back for routine pre-trial hearings.
This idea of commuting to telecommute is something more, though, blending the in-person contact we crave as human beings with the cost savings telepresence delivers. It's going to become much more common, especially if high-end telepresence gets cheaper for one-off use. Think simultaneous West Coast and East Coast team meetings, where the telepresence piece isn't just the CEO beaming in a speech, but also the small team breakout sessions where real interaction can occur.