Ava Slideshow 1

Imagine you’re an executive in San Jose, Calif., and your assistant is in Richardson, Texas.

Cisco Systems, Inc. senior vice president of software strategies and operations John Brigden doesn’t need to imagine that scenario because he lives it every day – his assistant Hollye Taylor, known around Cisco’s San Jose headquarters as “Virtual Hollye,” is based in Richardson, and collaborates with Brigden using Ava 500, their company’s remote teleconferencing robot, a collaboration between Cisco and Roomba developer iRobot.

Brigden and Taylor aren’t the only Cisco employees who enjoy having a robot around, either. Read on.


Ava Slideshow 2

Social media communications specialist Brittany Coletti uses the Ava 500 to walk around Cisco’s headquarters during National Hug Day (Jan. 21).


Ava Slideshow 3

Cisco senior vice president and chief marketing officer Karen Walker gives the Coletti-controlled Ava a friendly wave.


Ava Slideshow 4

Senior vice president and chief human resources officer Fran Katsoudas gives it a high-five.


Ava Slideshow 5a

Executive assistant Hollye Taylor rolls through a kitchen at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters, controlling Ava from Texas.

Speaking to Cisco editorial producer Stephanie Chan, Taylor says that Ava can feel so human, sometimes her supervisor Brigden forgets the robot lacks arms and legs.

“When John is in [Cisco headquarters] Building 10, I’ll come into his room and I’m able to put the robot in sit mode, so it’s like I’m sitting at the table,” she tells Chan. “After we have our one-on-one, he’ll say, ‘Ok, thanks!’ And then I say, ‘Well John, you’re going to have to open the door.’ And he goes, ‘I’m sorry! I just thought you were here. I wasn’t even thinking. I just expected you to get up and open the door.’”


Ava Slideshow 6a

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins chats with executive communications specialist Justin Riray, an avid gamer known around Cisco headquarters as its “resident Ava driver.”

What do you think about the prospect of a robot coworker at your office? Are the teleconferencing benefits (and reported $69,500 USD price tag) worth it?


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Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of ITBusiness.ca turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.