spicing up events with telepresence, 3D video conferencing and social media: today and tomorrow

taginlineimportThe 2010 session of the annual conference of the Confederation of French Industry (Medef) which took place last week was kicked off with an interesting innovation based on the usage of Cisco's telepresence. This version of the annual conference was dedicated to globalisation, hence the need to resort to this new breed of video conferencing service.

After a few words of introduction, Laurent Parisot (President of the Confederation of French industry, Medef) and her teams had organised a round-table with opinion leaders from all over the world (see transcript hereafter), from a virtual Cisco telepresence "room" which was set up on the stage of the main conference room (see picture above).

The first opinion leader to take part in this round-table was John Chambers himself, talking from his Cisco telepresence room in San Jose, Calif. This kind of events mixing virtual and real speakers is in fact not really new; I remember organising such events on behalf of the teleconference arm of what was not yet called Orange Business 10 years ago by mixing video conferencing and web conferencing in order to make interaction possible as well as enabling groups of attendees in remote places to attend the conference without travelling. Of course, the technology has improved significantly since then, but the principle has remained the same. This kind of events, mixing virtual and IRL(*) interaction, will be more and more commonplace in the future. But real innovation is just around the corner...

(*) IRL = In Real Life

When we organised the Orange Business Live event in Amsterdam in June 2010 - re. our live coverage on our Posterous realtime vlog - innovation had indeed been taken one step forward with the introduction of real-time 3D telepresence (see our Orange Lab representative per below and click this link for a video taping of her 3D speech).





Could we possibly dream about fully virtual events entirely organised on the Internet with all delegates attending from behind their desktop? In fact, this too already exists. And you can even see an example of that on our YouTube channel, with an episode of our Virtual Sustainability Summit dedicated to Green IT.

Having said that, one of the main reasons why delegates are registering and travelling so many miles to attend an event, is the possibility to meet with prospective customers, clients and partners, and not just attend presentations, be it telepresence presentations on a large screen. I may be wrong, but I don't believe that fully virtual events will replace real events in the near future, and we see - and will see more and more - digital enhance IRL events rather than replace them.

Innovation and Social media in that respect can also help bring pizazz into events with the possibility for users to interact and ask questions via twitter for instance. Real events such as the annual conference of the Confederation of French Industry will still be there tomorrow, but you should also witness more 3D, more digital and more social media in the event mix.






transcript of the various presentations by the participants to the round-table

John Chambers : recovery around the corner?
  • Jan 2009, Cisco was one of the 2 optimists at the World economic forum (Cisco had been the one of the 1st to feel the recession)
  • the trends are good if you look at the numbers but businesses are spending on capital, not on jobs
  • As business leaders we have to find new forms of revenue and adjust to bumps along the way: speed & flexibility
  • Social Business Networking is getting very important, this is one of the major trends
    • we train our leaders to move from business to business
    • 70,000 people at Cisco worldwide
    • our key thoughts are market transitions, differentiators (both long view and short term execution)
  • JC is optimistic about the resilience of the economy on a global basis. Also optimistic about technology & the Internet allowing job creation, changing the way we teach our kids, and the way we work. (Cisco delivered a 25% cut in CO2 emissions by using technology). JC thinks that technology will transform everything. Governments and businesses around the world must also work together to tackle the economic challenges that the world is going through.
Jürgen R Thumann (President, Business Europe) : "the credit crunch doesn't exist anymore"
  • financial situation is getting better, we have the worst behind us, but it doesn't mean the economy cannot dip once more.
  • But JT thinks that the credit crunch doesn't exist any more
  • we have now possibilities to move forward and finance our investments
  • JT is optimistic and thinks we have no risk of getting into a "double dip" recession
  • Germany expects 3-3 ½ % growth this year which is a very good number for Germany.

Hari Bhartia (Head of Confederation of Indian industry)



  • last quarter results showed 8.2% growth in Indian and AB thinks this is sustainable
  • In the last two years, because of the uncertainty, Indian companies hadn't invested in the way they should have. Now things are changing.
  • next five years, infrastructure spending in Indian will move significantly
  • Last five years, the emphasis was on social issues: education, job security etc. Now Indian consumers are growing in numbers which weren't expected before
  • Agriculture is buoyant as well, thanks to a good mansoon, with output going up 4%
  • despite this growth, India sees challenges though but overall, the domestic market is bullish and we'll continue to witness growth in India

Tom Donohue, Washington DC (President, US Chamber of Commerce)

  • the bottom line is you can't create jobs in the US if growth is below 3-4%
  • some industries (like agriculture) are doing very well but the US needs 20m jobs in the next five years
  • summary: great deal of uncertainty in US business, people are worried about the changes in health care, economic growth etc. and they are sitting on their money.
  • We have to be practical and understand that taxes have to be raised
  • Europe is the US' major trading partner and therefore we have a to have robust trade agreements

Wang Yan, Sina.com, China (founder)

  • largest general information portal in China
  • are there any risks of the economy overheating?
    • there are positive and negative signs in the economy
    • behind our growth in China, there are issues
    • in 2009, GNP was supported by investements (8%), consumption (9%) and exports (3%)
    • if we look into the details of this growth, we find that there is too much public investment and not enough private investments.
    • small businesses are still going through difficult times. The middle class, i.e. those who buy stuff, is still hit by the recession and consumption is still low.
  • Is China still an emerging country or a leading economic power now?
    • China's potential is still great and we can develop that potential throughout the coming years
    • internal modernization of China with regard to infrastructure and energy: the demand is huge with more than 800m citizens which need to be catered for
    • Internet usage: we have now outstripped America
  • Is there business for us then?
    • yes this is an opportunity for western counties too

Jacques Diouf, GM of UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

  • we are out of the raw material speculation crisis but the situation is still impacted by weather conditions: drought in Africa, floods in Pakistan etc. Hence Wheat and Corn prices are way above what they should and used to be.
  • however there are reasons for optimism: there are many opportunities with regard to getting new varieties of crops and in many developed countries are producing enough food to feed their population and export to poorer countries, in which local production of agricultural products does not cater for 80% of internal populations (hence requiring imports)
  • there is still reason for optimism though, despite difficulties...
Yann Gourvennec

I specialize in information systems, HighTech marketing and Web marketing. I am author and contributor to numerous books and the CEO of Visionary Marketing. As such, I contribute regularly on this blog for Orange Business account on cloud computing and cloud storage topics.