In a world where technology is getting smaller, lighter and faster (think about the Zach Morris cell phone vs. your iPhone or bulky desktop computers vs. the MacBook Air), it’s a wonder to me that companies are still investing in three- and four-screen telepresence solutions to collaborate over video. The rest of the tech world has realized that smaller, faster and lighter is the way to go, but why hasn’t the video conferencing industry? Trends like BYOD are plunging ahead at the speed of light, smartphones are estimated to reach the billions in just three years and software-based solutions are more popular than ever. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the days of the three-screen, bulky video conferencing solutions are over. Telepresence is dead.
Sorry, telepresence we hate to tell you, you are dead and we’ve got the numbers to prove it. Telepresence started the year with its worst showing in four years. Cisco’s results from last quarter showed another decrease in telepresence and since Cisco controls a large portion of this specific market, we think it’s safe to assume that this portends to a decline in the industry category as a whole. Honestly, is anybody surprised? Telepresence technology has always been outrageously expensive, inconvenient, impossible to scale and unnecessarily complex. When you are looking to deploy video conferencing in your organization, would you want a solution that will grow with your company or a $300,000 investment that will sit in a conference room and collect dust?
With so many affordable video collaboration solutions on the market today, there is no reason video needs to be confined to a corner office or an executive board room. Video conferencing can be available anywhere, on any device with any budget. Let’s say you have a $300,000 budget for video collaboration, wouldn’t you want as many employees in the organization enabled to collaborate over video? Mobile, desktop and affordable room-based video solutions help the many rather than only a select few.
Imagine if you treated audio phones in the same manner in your organization: only reserving them for a select few employees. How productive would your organization be then?
The only way video can truly benefit and boost collaboration is if it becomes as ubiquitous as the phone. If everyone in your organization has easy access to it, then it stands to reason they’re more likely to use it for enhanced collaboration and BAM… productivity improves, employees have a more efficient work day, projects get completed faster, decisions happen more quickly, etc. This is why mobile video conferencing is becoming such a hot trend. Can you imagine carrying one of those bulky telepresence units in your pocket? Of course not! But with smartphones and camera-enabled tablets, you can. Desktop, laptops, smartphones, tablets, UC solutions like Microsoft Lync and affordable room-based systems like the LifeSize Unity Series: that is where video conferencing is the most accessible and that is where the industry is heading. The folks still building and selling telepresence solutions refuse to acknowledge telepresence has outstayed its welcome. It’s just not the practical solution companies need. It’s dead. Sorry, telepresence. The world has spoken. It’s time to rest in peace.
This article was syndicated on the website, Telepresence Options, on November 30, 2012.