I recently had the opportunity to present a demo to a customer during their national sales convention.
The format was akin to a convention like CES, Cisco Live, etc. where you are given small slices of time with people who come by the booth to check out what you are pitching.
Therefore, the challenge was – given only a couple minutes of interaction, leave the end users (the audience was regional leadership at a national company) with a taste to spark their hunger for some of the solutions we were asked to show. The collective hunger of the regional leadership will then help us build a compelling solution for the organization based on the leaderships direct feedback.
We were focused on three different topics for the discussion:
- Unified Communications/Collaboration
For this post I’ll review the Telepresence Messaging and demos.
The key message I wanted users to leave with was that “Telepresence is Personal, Mobile, and Integrated“.
Telepresence is Personal
In the past days of video conferencing and immersive Telepresence one would need to go to a public area or room to take advantage of the richer visual experience. This results in scheduling conflicts and a general sense of video being “unreachable” for most employees. It is seen as too expensive, and only to be used for large meetings – which limits the positive impact it can really have on a company culture.
In my opinion video is most effective when used in smaller groups – a large meeting means the camera isn’t really looking at anyone, or it is switching between people all the time which keeps the technology “in the way” during the experience.
Cisco and Tandberg’s immersive systems did a great job of constraining the number of people in the meetings to eliminate this issue – and as a result the technology fades to the background.
However while the immersive systems were great at limiting users, there were horrible at making video available for “average” personal interactions. Those immersive systems came with a sizable price tag, and were expected to be utilized at a high degree, which meant that they were out of the question for your run of the mill conversations with customers, coworkers, and friends around the world.
Enter Telepresence in 2012…
The first choice for personal telepresence is the unit I’m typing this on – an EX90. That was the centerpiece of the products we were showcasing, and without fail the response was extremely positive (although nobody came close to guessing the price…)
The experience on an EX90 is one of having a large monitor that transforms into a HD video endpoint – magically and on the fly – FOR ME. It is used when I want to have interactions with someone across the country, world, or office – I don’t need to head down the hall, find out a room is booked, and reschedule my interaction based on the availability of a scarce resource. I’m able to place a phone call – and have a HD video experience.
Dan Stephens (my new coworker) argues that video is exploding because:
- Bandwidth is now more common
- Quality matches our expectations
- We finally get the need for a visual vs. audio experience.
I would add that another huge reason is that the ease of using technology is finally coming in line with where it should be. The use of touch pads vs. remotes is a MAJOR step forward for UX – which makes it possible for a video endpoint to be my main communication device.
Telepresence is Mobile
As I’ve mentioned above, video conferencing historically stayed in the ivory tower and walls of either an executive suite, or a public conference room – hardly something that you could take with you. In order to use video capability – you had to travel to the technology vs. the technology traveling with you.
Enter Telepresence in 2012…
As I’ve posted previously, I’m using Telepresence on my iPad2. Now that might be breaking some marketing laws since I’m technically using a Polycom client on my iPad2 to tie into Cisco Telepresence, but through the power of open standards, my Telepresence capability is now mobile.
In addition to Telepresence on my iPad2, I’m able to use Telepresence (Cisco blessed this time) on my Cius. The quality is better on the Cius than on the iPad2 (you’re welcome Cisco), however the key point here is that Telepresence goes with me. When our CEO was traveling around to all the INX offices to discuss the pending acquisition in November, I was on the other side of the country and unable to show up in person. So I used my Cius sitting in the hotel lobby to call our Tandberg C40 at the office and participate in the meeting. Telepresence is Mobile.
Telepresence is Integrated
I had a life changing experience with telepresence in late 2010. That is to say, I finally jumped on the telepresence bandwagon. Not that I wasn’t a fan of it before, I just truly didn’t see much of a difference between “Telepresence” and say…Video conferencing. I’m somewhat cynical about marketing efforts, and was feeling like the current “Telepresence” marketing efforts were rather thin. So sue me. Wait. Nevermind.
The life changing experience happened while I was supporting a customer who was deploying 9971’s to international locations – specifically Australia. We had a 9971 at the Santa Monica office I was at, and the technical contact at the other end plugged in theirs. We called it.
The oceans evaporated.
Perhaps not literally, but it was as if the oceans separating us and the employee in Australia were suddenly irrelevant. We were talking to him in person, and we hadn’t gone to great lengths to do so. We simply called him. There is power in placing a call, and seeing someone. Power that gets you hoooked. Power that makes you realize what a waste of time it is just talking on the phone. Power that makes you understand that a key strength of Telepresence is that you don’t need to place video calls – just calls. Let the system that is integrated to the endpoints figure out what to do – and how rich of a call you get. Simply call, and see.
Telepresence is integrated. (Perhaps Unified even?)
So…what do you think?
What else is Telepresence to you?