We know two things.
1) The world of airtravel is ripe for a revolution.
2) The company is place is not up for the job of fomenting this revolution. Cisco can't get the job done.
Proposition 1: the world of air travel is ripe for revolution.
Everyone has one or more horror stories: canceled flights, late arrives, missed connections, lost luggage, being forced to sit in a plane on the ground because the airline wants to protect its on-time departure rating. The list goes on. In the early days, air travel was something glamorous. Now it's more like a kidnapping by amateurs.
In Pip Coburn's view of the world, "current pain" is enormous. That's the pain caused by the existing technology. And "future pain" (the cost of adopting a new technology) is modest.
Yes, there will be some loss of information. Horrors, there may even be a loss of clients. But, wow, compare the investment you are obliged to make to get from your desk to the boardroom at the end of the hall to all the things you need to get from New York to and from Chicago. I believe this is what the economist's call a "good deal."
Cost recovery should happen very quickly. Think of all the costs there are to recover: air fair, taxi rides, hotel bills, food expenses. The high end solution for Cisco, a televisual suite, is $150,000. It simulates the meeting room with high fidelity.
If the average cost of a business trip is $300 air fare and taxi + 200 hotel and food, all we need are 300 trips to make back our investment. I would guess that for a small company, this is a year's worth of travel. And this takes no account of the increased happiness and efficiency of our staff.
Proposition 2: Cisco is not up for the job.
Cisco has a solution. Call it tele-precense or tele-communting. It is capable of doing to the airtravel industry what Amazon did to retail: disintermediating it.
Here's how Cisco describes what they do:
Cisco TelePresence™ creates a live, face-to-face communication experience over the network that empowers you to collaborate like never before. Cisco TelePresence helps people meet, share content, create high-quality video recordings and events, consult with experts and deliver powerful personalized services, all using the power of the network for an immersive in-person experience.
With Cisco TelePresence:
* Scheduling is easy-no IT support required
* Launching a meeting is as simple as making a phone call.
* People appear lifelike and life-size
The trouble here is that this is one of those tipping point markets. Right now the installed base of Cisco tech is small. And as long as this is true, it doesn't much matter that we have the technology. We can't use it effectively till others do too.
And this is where we come down to Cisco's insufficiency. What we need here is a marketer so smart that they can push this market over the tipping point. Cisco need an ace like Sergio Zyman or some other master of the art and science of marketing.
Here's what I know. Air travel is broken. Cisco can fix it. Please. Start. Now.
Maybe the problem is not Cisco but the ad agency. See a Cisco ad here.
Coburn, Pip. 2007. The Change Function: Why Some Technologies Take Off and Others Crash and Burn. New York: Portfolio.