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Cisco CEO, John Chambers, in Second Life:
“The Power of Collaboration”

Wed, Jun 25, 2008

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, after his Cisco Live keynote, held a question and answer session in Second Life yesterday. It was a packed house and Chambers’ responses to the questions were amongst the most powerful endorsements for the role of virtual worlds in positive global development and our futures that I have heard in a while!

The Cisco virtual worlds blog had been indicating this would be a strong statement from their CEO in support of virtual worlds (see Virtual Worlds: Are they really dead? ). But listen for yourself to see how deep and far reaching this vision for collaboration in general, and the role of virtual worlds in particular, goes with Cisco.

The whole Q and A will be posted here and covered many interesting topics from reducing emissions to the power of collaboration to change our lives in ways we can barely imagine now. But here are a couple of extracts.

First the answer to Matt2 Ultsch’s question. Matt2 is the Second Life avatar of Matt Hamblen, Computerworld in “real” life. Then, not surprisingly, I have transcribed the answer to my own question – asked by my Second Life avatar Tara5 Oh. And, finally, a clarification of a main theme of the “The Power of Collaboration,” in a description from John Chambers of “communities of interest” prompted by a question from Dannette CiscoSystems.

Matt2 Ultsch: My question for Mr. Chambers: A thoughtful blog by Bruce Damer recently questioned whether virtual world platforms could be facing a downturn in use and popularity…Do you have any reaction, now that Cisco is showing a strong interest in Second Life interactions?

John Chambers: …..very often if there is one thing that I have learned in my thirty years in high tech is sometimes concepts are a little bit too early but when they do take off they take off with tremendous speed and efficiency.

This where I think it is important especially for the business communities and the entertainment industries to understand what is possible because when the market does move it usually moves at speeds faster then anyone anticipated.

I would compare it to the first stages of the internet. If you look back to the predictions made by Cisco and others in the early nineties and mid-nineties almost all of them not only came true but ended up being even lower then we expected in terms of under estimating the market opportunity.

So I think when you think about interfacing to your customers, interfacing to your family, interfacing to your piers and the communities of interest we will have both in our business world and our personal life, I think we are at the very, very beginning stages of what is possible.

Might there be some bumps along the way, yes. But I would disagree with the overall commentary. I think you are going to see a world that explodes into many types? of utilization.

But to refer back to one of your other colleague’s earlier comment. You are going to have more ubiquitious band width, processing power, and more people that see the value of bringing this.. whether it is the value of bringing to education, health care, productivity or entertainment.

I think that what you are seeing is the very front end of a very large wave of opportunities.

Tara5 Oh: What is Cisco doing in terms of research and development in terms the use of virtual worlds for creating new ways for people to interact with data, i.e., 3D data visualization and even 3D virtual operation centers?

John Chambers: Well, if you watch what we are beginning to do is we often get our best ideas from our customers and through our partners. And, clearly, while we have just been a member of Second Life since 2006, at our last partners conference earlier this year we had a 3D virtual partner capability which we continue to expand.

And if you watch what we are doing, we are instead of talking about video capabilities in companies we are really bringing that virtual capability into our customer environment as the primary way we will support them in the future and the primary way that we will interface in our company.

So we are not just using the technology we are changing the organizational model to be much more collaborative and rewarding people based on that and restructuring. In fact, if you watch what we are doing as a company while we are organized in traditional ways in terms of sales, engineering, legal, and supply chain, our organization structure of the future will be all around communities of interest – will be based upon market opportunities in the enterprise, or the consumer, opportunities in terms of video, or opportunities in terms of software, etc.

So we are restructuring are whole company around these concepts and we think it will have a huge future. And we clearly intend to not only lead in this area in terms of using it ourself. We intend to lead in terms of bringing it to our customer set.

I need to in the interest of self disclosure remind everyone that this requires a lot of bandwidth and lot of ….. devices and that we will be into it in a big way in terms of the capability that this type of technology brings to our ….(last few words inaudible).

John Chambers elaborated on the role of “communities of interest” in a response to a question from Danette CiscoSystems who was fielding the questions from the audience.

Danette CiscoSystems: What is exciting you at Cisco Live? What is getting you revved up?

John Chambers: What is getting me revved up at Cisco Live is seeing a concept come true. We started down a collaborative path at Cisco literally 7 years ago with most people in the company not believing this was the right way to go and all of us having been successful in command and control, but that is not the future at all.

The future is going to be built of communities of interest and how you can access any data from any device and share that not with a machine or another person in a one to one transaction but share it among a community of interest where you think together. I think this will forever change business models. I think it will forever change entertainment and it will change every aspect of our lives in a way we are just starting to imagine.

I think what is exciting to here is that where last year we were talking about that in theory and this year we are beginning to see people grab this is going to happen. We may disagree on the time frame but it is not longer a question any more of if, it is now a question of when.

Some of other interesting questions to John Chambers from the Second Life audience and Cisco Live were:

(name inaudible): As collaborative technologies have grown so has the demand for increased bandwidth however rural education systems still struggle to meet those … connective needs. As urban school systems continue to grow more connected to global collaborative environments rural systems are being left behind the curve how do you see these technologies being implemented by rural schools and governments?

John Chambers noted in his detailed answer to this question that one of the reasons Cisco bought a WiMax company was to respond to this need.

Movies1963 Beck: Gartner reports the total number of pcs in use has broken one billion mark and grows? by 12% a year. What are your thoughts on that?

Tao Takashi: What are the obstacles we are seeing right now regarding virtual worlds. What are we experiencing? What needs to be solved before they get adopted more?

Beyers Sellers: What real life policies do you think, if any, are going to be crucial to the success of virtual worlds – these might include net neutrality, government investment in infrastructure etc.

Beyers also asked: What is Cisco’s investment strategy for virtual worlds?

For the answers to these questions see the recording that I hope will be posted on the web soon. I will put in a link as soon as I have one.

categories: 3D internet, Second Life, virtual communities, Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0, Web 3D, Web3.D, World 2.0
tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments For This Post

  1. rightasrain Says:

    Great to see Cisco promoting virtual world and 3D web ideas! I guess question is how/if SL will participate in the future if it is mired in the present. Has LL opened the doors, but will not get to the table (is it like netscape all over again?).

    We run the largest public area in SL now. So look at recent SL data here http://rezzable.com/blog/rightasrain-rimbaud/looking-linden-sl-data-and-trying-be-excited-about-sl5b

    New tech truisms: market adoption always takes longer than expected (even by VCs)…you can always spot the pioneers they have the arrows in their backs…

  2. Tish Shute Says:

    Rightasrain – thank you for your comment. I am very happy to see you commenting here on Ugotrade – http://www.rezzable.com are, I know, true geniuses of the metaverse and I hope the conditions for your work to contnue and grow become better and better.

    John Chambers Q and A was IMHO a wake up call to everyone but particularly to all the pioneers of the metaverse LL included. (eeek the pioneers with arrows in their back is a disturbing metaphor/ tech truism ).

    I am trying to find the link for the audio on the whole session – there were some very good parts I did not transcribe. If I do not find a good weblink I will post the audio file I made, even though the quality is low.

  3. Tish Shute Says:

    Great! the link in my post will lead to the full archive of the event that will be posted on http://slcn.tv/ later today. Well worth a listen!

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. eightbar Says:

    Cisco CEO John Chambers on future of virtual worlds…

    Tish over at Ugotrade has just posted some transcripts from the an event in Second Life yesterday. The Cisco CEO John Chambers appeared and answered some questions. Now I know I am biased, but it is good to hear many of the same themes and reasoning I/…

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