MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Telepresence - Its Time has Come!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When it comes to video conferencing solutions, telepresence is king.  Telepresence is an immersive video conferencing experience with enhanced audio/video enablilng an experience as close to face to face as current technology will allow.  Why is telepresence so compelling?  It provides a customer experience that puts traditional video conferencing to shame.  The key differentiator is the ability to look your participants in the eye, even when they are in a room half way around the world.

Telepresence (or dedicated video conferencing) solutions typically run on a dedicated network, provide very high Quality of Service, include high end audio/video tools and studio style lighting.  All of this provides the endusers an impressive alternative for avoiding airports, travel delays and overall travel expenses.  Most companies that install telepresence already have some experience with video conferencing and use it primarily for internal communications.  However, those internal communications often include executive briefings with customers.  Telepresence improves employee productivity, enhances effective collaboration, accelerates decision making and reduces your company's carbon footprint.

When it comes to companies offering telepresence solutions, Cisco leads the pack.  With their acqusition of Tandberg earlier this year, Cisco arguably has the broadest set of video conferencing/telepresence solutions for business ranging from small to large (and pricing commenserate with size of rooms, number of people and locations).   I have not had the chance to experience Cisco's solutions but have been impressed by their overall strategy related to all things video (for both business and consumer). 

As a former HP employee, I often leveraged HP's Halo Rooms for executive meetings, training sessions and team meetings.  With a global team spread across 3 countries, Halo helped my team manage its travel budget yet still benefit from virtual face to face meetings for internal collaboration, quarterly reviews and hands on solution development.  HP's solutions target the large, multi-national enterprise who may select to install and manage the services themselves or have HP manage it for them.

I recently met with a new entrant into the teleprsence market, Vu Telepresence.  headquarted in India with a keen eye on the U.S. market, Vu is targeting SMBs who cannot afford the high-end, elegant solutions offered by Cisco, HP or Polycom.  I participated in a live session connecting NY, Silcon Valley and Bangalore.  While the system does not enjoy the studio style lighting of the high-end systems, it does provide high quality audio/video, the ability to share a laptop screen and connect up to 6 locations.  The Vu Telepresence solution is a good fit for individuals in SMBs that need to connect between georgraphically dispersed offices.  Think of small to mid size law firms and technology companies with off-shore development or manufacturing.

I'm encouraged to see the investment and growth in this market. I am a big fan of solutions that enable employees and business colleagues to connect and collaborate quickly and easily.  Solution pricing ranges from the low end (Vu Telepresence) of $1500 for one station to the high end (Cisco, HP or Polycom) of $350,000 for a dedicated, private networked, custom built studio. IDC forecasts the dedicated video conferencing and telepresence market to grow to $8.8B in 2014 from $1.9B in 2009.  This is a collobaration solution whose time is now.  The economic recession has forced companies to re-think their travel options.  These high quality video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to time and money consuming travel.

What's your perspective?