Cisco Hires the Doobies

6:00 PM -- Aw, come on. Wasn't Devo available?

Tonight, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is hosting a Doobie Brothers concert that doubles as a telepresence demo. They'll apparently be playing at Cisco, in San Jose, with the show being beamed to other locations via telepresence. (For telepresence-challenged sites, Cisco is also broadcasting it on Ustream.)

Here's a promo photo. These guys weren't from the 70s or anything, were they?

The band still has a following. A Cisco blog entry by Doug Webster notes that a few thousand employees put in requests for the available studio audience seats.

But man, if you want to pick a nostalgia act -- I'm not joking about Devo. Devo has a new album out, and it doesn't suck. (The Doobies, by contrast, have a new album.) Devo performed at last year's Cisco Live customer event. And Warner Bros. Records used tools from Cisco's Eos group to rebuild the Devo Website.

But Devo wouldn't fit the audience that telepresence needs to be marketed to. Even though Cisco wants to take telepresence mainstream, much of its high-end appeal is still best aimed at top executives. Those guys are more a Doobie Brothers crowd.

And I do think telepresence -- speaking of the technology, not just the Cisco product -- could remain a high-end tool. I think videoconferencing is going to head the way of phone conversations. Cellphones and speakerphones acclimated us to bad voice quality. Likewise, a middling Skype video call on an iPhone (once such a thing exists) is going to be the norm for person-to-person video, leaving full-screen telepresence as more of a tool for executives and large groups.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:16 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

Sisyphus - I think a lot of folks are in your camp about the band.  :)

Well, I did listen to the album preview, and I have to admit it didn't suck as much as I'd expected.  Track 3 was pretty darned good, actually (although you have to hear it past the first 30 seconds, so the preview sample on the Yahoo page isn't all that informative in that case.)

I give them credit for being able to still rock, to some extent. But Devo could still totally take them down.

Sisyphus 12/5/2012 | 4:22:17 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

Naw. I like about 4 Doobie Bros songs, and none of them are new. :D


I do however think predictable, higher end video -not pushing high end Telepresence per se- is a killer tool for us knowledge workers. We get stuff done faster with the people that matter that way. I wasn't a fan at first, but I am now, and I'll get the home system (guys check out the Tandberg site, no surprises there). :D

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:22 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

I appreciate the serious discussion of videoconferencing, but come on -- didn't anyone bother to check out the concert?  How was it?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:22 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

Thanks, Sisyphus.  I hear what you're saying about the non-immersive experiene of the iPhone. My guess is that people will be OK with that.  The convenience of not having to set up & deal with telepresence will trump everything.

For CEO-to-CEO summits, like the ones John Chambers always talks about ... sure, the HD quality and you-are-there illusion pay off.  For one guy talking to another guy for 15 minutes ... not so much.

Sisyphus 12/5/2012 | 4:22:24 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies


I love Telepresence. I didn't get it at first when it was announced. Video had never made that much of a difference in conference calls as far as I was concerned, the little webcam video feeds added little to communication, and good predictable voice quality was the truly important thing.

But over time Telepresence has truly saved me a lot of time wasted in airports that cuts into quality of life. It also has allowed me to establish far closer relationships with people in other offices. Of course, to achieve that effect, its use has to be widespread (Metcalfe's Law) within a company, which isn't a cheap proposition. Telepresence is no good if you can't get enough people to participate for lack of adoption or system availability.

It will be interesting to see if the experience gets watered down now that webcams can also feed into Telepresence calls, or with the product range being extended downwards for more mass market appeal.

I'd be interested in a study about how video can change knowledge worker business process efficiency - and hw video quality and environment play a role. Because I don't think the immersive experience is there when one of the participants enter the call on his iPhone from a crowded subway. :)

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:25 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

I agree with you, Netmeister, the high-end systems really are good.  And it's a suitable setup for large groups, or multiple groups that need to be on the screen at once.  But yeah - for most usage, it feels like overkill. 

ronjrcosten 12/5/2012 | 4:22:26 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

I have been A cable installer for nine years but its going nowere.And would like to look into something else. can someone give me some feed back?. Thanks In advance

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:22:26 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

I have Skype video on my mobile. It's okay. Impressive that you can do it, but not good enough you'd do it a lot. Also, my phone can only video call with Skype on Windows.

netmeister 12/5/2012 | 4:22:27 PM
re: Cisco Hires the Doobies

I agree with you that Skype on iPhone (when such a thing exists) will be far more the norm. But I will say, having experience both Cisco's and HP's telepresence in the last year, they are SWEET systems. They have really done a nice job making it look like everybody is seated around a big round table. When placed correctly and calibrated, the table top you're sitting behind locally merges seamlessly with the remote table tops. If you have a multi-way conference, of up to something like 4 sites, everybody is visible as if sitting around the table. The sites are also located in the correct relative positions at each such such that when somebody talks, everybody's eyes move the right direction to look at the talker. It's very realistic. Having been using video conference equipment since 1989, I can tell you that we have come a long way.

That said, I spend far more time on Skype and Google Chat calls than I do on those high-end systems.

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