For many moons, the physical presence of a CEO has elicited a moment of fear and excitement in the hearts and minds of rank and file employees.
Having the boss in front of you can make the brain short-circuit as it attempts to process what to say. Should said employee grovel or try to impress? Will this interaction end in promotion or termination?
It's a big deal, and rare because CEOs are only men, not omnipresent beings beaming to and fro in the universe. Until now...
Busy globe-trotting CEOs often complain they can't be in two places at one time. But last week, Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme was -- at least digitally.
On Monday, Nanterme went to an Accenture broadcast studio in Paris, where he is based, and in a moment that seems more Star Wars than C-suite, had his image beamed to suburban Chicago, where 500 of the company's top executives were meeting. At the same time, the professional services firm's human resources chief, Ellyn Shook, was beamed in from New York, and the resulting three-dimensional "holograms" of the two executives chatted with each other about things like the company's new performance reviews and recent acquisitions, while answering questions from the audience.
How exciting for those employees! Their bosses are no longer constrained to the corporeal realm, free to apparate, interact and observe without warning.
Can you imagine a future in which a Jamie Dimon hologram can just materialize behind a junior trader with his eyes trained anywhere else but his Bloomberg Terminal? He's going to have quite the coronary when Jamie's holo-voice asks him "Hey! You using that or what?!?!"
Or picture a Bank of America board meeting, waiting for Brian Moynihan to show and growing increasingly perturbed. Suddenly, a shimmering Moynigram appears in the CEO chair. "Not today, jerks," he giggles. "Not today."
And this technology could make it so - a la Tupac - a CEO never really goes away.
Somewhere, AIG CEO Peter Hancock is living a waking nightmare that some day in the very near future, a strange feeling will grab him as he sits at his desk. Turning slightly, he will see the dreaded glow. After taking a deep breath, he will take in the full effect of what lies before him. The hologram of a man holding a small white dog smirks and a cackle fills the room.
"Hello Hancock," says Hologram Hank Greenberg. "I'm baaaaaack."