5 Myths of Telepresence and what they mean to your business

If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you have more than a passing interest in collaboration, video conferencing or telepresence. Confused? You’re not the only one. You can’t use search terms like collaboration, or telepresence without coming up against different definitions, methodologies or applications. You walk away from a search like that inevitably asking: “What’s the right definition?”

That is the problem with terms like collaboration and telepresence. They are broad and sweeping and you will be hard pressed to find many people who have the same definition. But that isn’t a bad thing.  Creating authentic communication and collaboration isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” industry.

5 Myths of Telepresence

Recently, Cisco published an article on their blog debunking five myths around telepresence. These myths are things that we, at ET Group, have come across time and time again when talking to clients. The Myths Cisco talks about are:

Myth #1. “It’s unaffordable and only for the enterprise”

Myth #2. “Web-based consumer services are good enough”

Myth #3. “Software vs. hardware”

Myth #4. “Telepresence is too complex to set up and use”

Myth #5. “The payback is limited to travel”

Debunking The Myths

Debunking the myths is important for three reasons:

  1. It gives existing telepresence users a way to gauge their investment.
  2. By putting the myths under the microscope readers can take stock of any preconceptions they might have.
  3. It helps people to make good decisions when developing a technology roadmap for the next five years.

Myth #1. “It’s unaffordable and only for the enterprise”

I’m going to leave the telepresence ROI discussion to my peers. I’m going to focus on Myths 2-4 because they’re centered more on the technology involved behind the scenes and the user experience.

Myth #2. “Web-based consumer services are good enough”

In previous blog articles We’ve discussed the pros and cons of consumer grade services for your business Video Conference needs. Recently, Microsoft began folding its MSN messenger application and pushing those users towards their Skype platform. The only announcement which improves Skype’s business readiness as a result of this move is an improved mobile application. Mobility without security isn’t going to offer businesses a new experience with Skype. In fact, it would be my guess that the fanfare of the new Skype user base may impact performance with the sheer number of subscribers. Why do I say this? Skype and MSN have had high profile outages in the past due to congestion. It’s worth thinking about what would happen with their combined user bases.

Myth #3. “Software vs. hardware”

This question is at the heart of every video conferencing roadmap, and it feeds into three key questions:

  1. How do you want to collaborate? For an example read 3 Real-Life Solutions to Ensure Video Conferencing Adoption.
  2. Where do you want your teams to work? See a previous blog Do you Lack Meeting Room Space? Without Exception, Every Company or Agency I Speak with has This Problem.
  3. What can I leverage today, for tomorrow? Further discussed in the blog Conference Room Audio Visual Solutions are an Integral Part of a Well Executed UC&C Platform.

People often ask, how do I ‘future proof’ my investment? Do I go with a desktop client like Jabber, Lync, or Vidyo; or invest in an integrated boardroom solution? After we start discussing the three questions above, we often find that clients want to do both.

The reasons clients may wish to do both vary, but it boils down to one thing: In many telepresence deployments there is tremendous investment overlap in the requirements for mobile versus office deployments. Understanding this allows clients to prevent the conversation from starting as a “this or that” discussion and making it about workflows and where collaborative technologies can enhance productivity.

Myth #4. “Telepresence is too complex to set up and use”

I think that it is important to recognize the difference between complex, and flexible. Yes, there are many different ways that you can deploy telepresence. But, that’s true of your Phone System or PBX, and it’s just as true of your computing environment whether its Windows, Mac or Linux based. Options don’t inherently mean complexity, and anyone that tells you differently is avoiding the question.

Options mean that you have to take a very sober look at where your company’s deployment is starting from, and where you want to develop your collaborative ecosystem too in the next five years. But building the ecosystem is only half of the battle.

The other half of this myth is using telepresence; the user adoption of the technology. User adoption is a microcosm of how companies adopt new technologies. Most, will have a few highly evangelical adopters who will win over the office over a period of time. A few will adopt a technology and have it sit unused while they try to figure out what its business application will be. Rarely will everyone see the need to make a change and jump in with both feet. At its heart, user adoption is a battle of perception. Developing adoption comes down to three things, dispelling fears and doubts, kicking the tires, and users finding what’s in it for them.

What will Telepresence mean for your business?

A lot of what I’ve talked about, and Cisco’s blog post can be summed up into one question: What will Telepresence mean for your business?

If anything, this blog has shown you that there isn’t one-way to answer this question to satisfy everyone. The next time you go to search for collaboration or telepresence, instead of asking “What’s the right definition?”, ask yourself “How will my business define it?”

Cisco has done an excellent job of trying to dispel fears and doubts.  If you’re still stuck on the definition we at ET Group can help you with the rest.

Comments
  • The suppliers will, of course say no, arguing communication is such a vital part of business that it needs to be highly available and reliable, giving users that must-have peace of mind that it will not fail.

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