Hewlett-Packard Telepresence: The Wall Street Journal Missed the Point

The VAR Guy

March 21, 2008

3 Min Read
Hewlett-Packard Telepresence: The Wall Street Journal Missed the Point

Generally speaking, The VAR Guy loves reading The Wall Street Journal. He welcomes longer in-depth reporting and investigative pieces. But he was recently shocked to read a misleading blog entry about Hewlett-Packard and Telepresence on The Journal’s Web site. The piece is a disservice to everyone — vendors, resellers and customers — who are evaluating Telepresence systems at the moment. Here’s why.

The Journal’s blogger attempted to analyze a recent partnership between Hewlett-Packard and Marriott, which calls for the hotel chain to deploy the high-end video conferencing system. But the Journal got everything wrong about the relationship and its business impact.

First, the headline:

“H-P and Marriott’s Confusing Video-Conferencing Deal”

There was nothing confusing about the deal. Marriott is deploying Telepresence systems for business users who want high quality, high-end video conferencing, but can’t afford to buy such systems on their own.

Next, this statement within the Journal’s blog entry:

“Perhaps it’s because we’re posting this blog from a hotel room while on a business trip that we have a hard time imagining going to the lobby to teleconference.”

Somehow, the Journal overlooked the fact that these Telepresence systems are positioned for use in executive meeting rooms, private suites and other private areas. Nobody — except the Journal — mentioned hotel lobbies as a potential starting point for these systems.

Here are three scenarios where the Marriott Telepresence systems make sense. Alas, the Journal didn’t anticipate any of these.

  • Company Crisis Control: Imagine, for instance, if your CEO and board of directors are scattered around the world and a company crisis occurs. Instead of flying everyone in for an emergency meeting, your key executives could head to Marriott hotels and communicate “face to face” over secure Internet connections to discuss the situation in real time.

  • Small Business Development: You’re a small business owner in New York who wants to communicate more effectively with developers in India and suppliers in Asia. You can’t afford to hop on a plane every month, nor can you afford a $250,000 video conferencing system for your office. Instead, you simply head to a local Marriott — and so do your partners around the globe — to hold high-def video discussions.

  • Corporate Events: You’re a business that wants to hold regional events simultaneously across North America. Yet your executives and guest speakers can’t be in multiple places at the same time. Yes, you could do a pure Web seminar. But you want the ability to build closer relationships with your existing partners and customers, and that typically may not happen through a Web browser. So, you ultimately host face-to-face events in multiple hotels, and a few of your key experts are able to participate in the events using the TelePresence systems.

The VAR Guy isn’t suggesting that TelePresence is perfect. Initial sales have been soft, some prices are lofty, and many of the systems only support videoconferencing within companies — and not between companies.

Those would have been fair points for The Journal to raise. Instead, The Journal described why nobody would want to travel to use TelePresence in a hotel lobby. Talk about missing the point entirely.

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