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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Jun 24th 2011

By Sramana Mitra and guest authors Siddharth Garg and Rahul Nagpal

Sramana: What about the higher-end cutting edge collaboration functionalities? Let me go to the absolute other extreme, desktop tele-presence. How far are we from desktop tele-presence in the cloud?

Frank: I don’t think we are that far, because a lot of the pieces are falling into place. Right now, I am talking to you from my laptop at a third-party training facility that owns a Wi-Fi connection. If you are on the same technology we use, we could be doing this call in a video session on the desktop. We have about 25,000 video enabled m-points as webcams. So, we are already doing desktop video across the company. We have tele-presence at the high end. I think you are going to start seeing the cost point on the cameras dropping. When that happens, I think you are going to see a lot of the webcams move to high definition, and that experience will be similar to the quality of the experience you get with tele-presence.

Sramana: We already had desktop video conferencing. The bottleneck for tele-presence is the quality of the camera, in your opinion?

Frank: It’s a combination of the quality of the camera and the price point. Right now, the cameras are still expensive. As cameras get to below $200, below $100, it becomes less of a compelling issue, right? And then there is bandwidth. Bandwidth has gotten relatively inexpensive, so that’s less. With high definition you would need about a megabit or so. It’s expensive if you do a 720 P or 1080 P, which, by the way, doubles your bandwidth requirement. It turns out that 720 is actually pretty good quality.

So, I think you will see perhaps the bandwidth. I think it’s going to come down to a combination of what people are comfortable with. I think the bigger challenge is that the technology is going to show up pretty straightforward. Then it’s actually going to happen. The harder thing is changing behavior, people being comfortable being on video. I think the cultural change will be harder — and I don’t know if culture is the right term – but for example, right now would you be comfortable if this was a video session?

Sramana: I would be very comfortable, but that’s because we are heavy-duty users of these kinds of technologies. In the One Million by One Million program that I run, we do a lot of work by video conferencing. We have people all over the world, the One Million by One Million entrepreneurs are all over the world at least twice a week we have significant video conferencing session and so forth. But I take your point; that that’s not a normal reaction to the question that you just asked.

Frank: Right, because I have a lot of people say, I am not really dressed for work. I am working remotely today. I think it’s getting used to doing video, and I think you are going to see that. People are more comfortable doing it in a personal setting, like talking to grandma is okay but talking to a business colleague when you are at home and in a T-shirt isn’t. I think you are going to see the need for us to think about how we work and how was video introduced. I think you’re going to see generational differences. I think you are going to see different generations being more comfortable with it and another generation saying, I like being on a phone call, and I can walk around when I am on a phone call, but I can’t walk around when I have video.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture
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