Why we are at the beginning of the beginning for video conferencing – with Rowan Trollope

Rowan Trollope

If you don’t know who Rowan Trollope is, you’re probably only starting to get your head around Collaboration.
CEO of Five9, previously Senior Vice President & General Manager responsible for the Collaboration Technology Group @ Cisco (they’re behind what is now known as Webex Teams).
For me personally, he’s a rock star in the Collab market. As he describes himself “a geek at heart”, that is fun to watch and listen to. A renaissance man.
Without further ado, let me introduce Mr. Rowan Trollope.

Maciej Wilk: Rowan, thank you for accepting the invitation. It’s a real pleasure having you @ tipsycollab.com. Before we get going, tell me about your beginnings in the IT industry. 

Rowan Trollope: I started at a company called Peter Norton computing. We made a product called Norton Utilities and then Norton Antivirus 

MW: The name of the blog in other words is Tips Why Collab. Why has it been Collaboration for you over the past 8 years?

RT: The mobile and consumer internet revolution was on my mind in 2007. Since I spent most of my time at work I was frustrated that the collaboration tools available to enterprises seemed to be decades behind their consumer counterparts. I felt that it was a massive opportunity to bring the innovation we were seeing in the consumer space into the enterprise. Video in particular was an area that I was excited about. Specifically because it seemed that this was one area where businesses were actually ahead of consumer tech (this was pre FaceTime and etc).  We can see this now where business video tech actually moved back into the consumer world with Zoom becoming an overnight sensation for all kinds of consumer use cases in the covid pandemic. 

MW: You’re definitely a leader people look up to. I most certainly have in my days @ Cisco and still do. What’s your secret?

RT: No secret! I truly love my job and am a geek at heart. If I wasn’t doing this stuff for work, I’d be doing it at home on the weekends and as a hobby. That’s what I was doing before I started getting paid to build technology. 

MW: I love your story about experiencing weightlessness. Does technology still create those magical moments for you?

RT: Absolutely – everyday I look around at the tech I use and see dozens of ways it could be better and more effective. Take video conferencing for example; we are at the beginning of the beginning for video conferencing. There will be easily 50-100 years of innovation in meeting software and hardware before we get to the ultimate destination which is something like the Star Trek holodeck. Buckle up!

MW: Why is curiosity so important in the tech industry?

RT: It’s as important in tech as it is in life. Research has shown that brain plasticity continues throughout your entire life (albeit at a slower pace as you age).  Curiosity and learning are what drives the plasticity. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I feel much more alive when I’m learning and exploring new ideas, and exercising my mind. 

MW: What career advice would you give to Collaboration focused engineers like myself and many of my readers?

RT: Think about how much is left to be done. The biggest and most important ideas have yet to be discovered and turned into businesses. Bet on yourself! Go start a business. Shoot for the moon. 

MW: If you could start your own career again, what would you change?

RT: I would have slept more. 

MW: How does the pandemic affect the Collab market?

RT: The most notable effect has been vaulting video conferencing to the mainstream. 

MW: What do you say to companies that want to keep everything on-prem?

RT: The benefits of the cloud are clear and undeniable. 

MW: What does the future of Collaboration hold according to Rowan Trollope?

RT: Technology enhancing human potential with compounding improvements 

MW: What are your goals for the future?

RT: To make customers happy with amazing technology that brings the world together 

MW: I’m currently based in Switzerland so have to ask – have you ever climbed the Swiss Alps? 🙂

RT: I have. I did the haute route ski mountaineering in 2018

MW: Last but not least, do you still paint?

RT: No 🙁

MW: That’s a pitty 🙂 Thanks so much for the interview!