October 12, 2018

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

As regular readers know, I love technology. Like many of you, I couldn’t run my life the way I do without texting and email or my favorite gadgets. And Marcum would be in dire straits without our secure systems, client interfaces and remote access to keep our business moving.

Maybe that’s why I’m so intrigued by holograms. Now that there’s a Roy Orbison hologram going on a national concert tour, it’s very possible they’ll start catching on in the business world.

It may happen sooner than later. Pierre Nanterme, the CEO of Accenture, is already sending his hologram to conferences. Maybe it’s time for me to start holding my team meetings that way, too. I’ve been looking for a better way to get more facetime with our offices across the country and overseas.

Keynote speakers are also getting into using holograms, and who can blame them? It’s a great way to multiply speaker fees. Peter Diamandis, MD, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation – named by Fortune magazine as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” – has already created a “hologram keynote offering” because he doesn’t have a lot of time to travel to speeches. (He offers the hologram speech at a discount). With the right technology, it’s possible to do a live Q&A in real-time. If speakers can pull this off in a way that really works, I can see plenty of companies going for this option.

But it’s not just the rich and famous who could put holograms to work for them. Think of all of the times you’ve had to give a presentation to different groups of colleagues and maybe even flew to another city to deliver the same ideas in person because a videoconference, while better than the phone, is still a little too impersonal. What if you could send a life-size, 3D hologram instead? People say the holograms are more like being in the room together than a video chat. It’s only a matter of time before the price comes down and holograms can be used routinely.

When that happens, using holograms could potentially lower travel costs. By keeping employees back at the office, holograms might also help companies that are focused on sustainability to lower their carbon footprint from greenhouse gas emissions.

There are plenty of other practical ways I can see businesses using holograms. A company that can’t send a salesperson to do a live pitch to a far-away client could send a hologram as the next best thing. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, we’d have to work out the bugs. Think about what mandatory group videoconferences would be like for the managers running them. What would stop employees from sending a hologram in lieu of actually showing up on a call where they’re not expected to do any talking?

We might also have to start thinking about whether holograms have rights. Could holograms be considered a new class of worker at some point? It sounds far-fetched, but why not? There’s already plenty of talk about robots’ rights. Talk about a can of worms for HR and legal! Maybe the holograms would unionize? Have their own hologram-only annual conference, golf outing, happy hour…the possibilities are limitless.

For the moment, I’m glad that when I’m meeting with someone, whether face-to-face or on video, I know I’m talking to a real person. Going to meetings with holograms is going to take some getting used to.

Then again, if Roy’s hologram plays New York City, I may just check him out. I might pick up something I can apply to our business at some point in the not-too-distant future.