Repeat After Me: TelePresence Is A Managed Service
TelePresence — that fancy term for next-generation videoconferencing — hasn’t gone mainstream yet. But I believe the TelePresence market is reaching a tipping point, thanks to falling prices, integration work between networking vendors and service providers, and webcasting capabilities from Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard’s Halo. But here’s a question for managed service providers: Are you going to make a TelePresence move? Before you answer…
… Consider these four TelePresence trends:
1. Falling Prices: A year or two ago, TelePresence conference rooms cost $300,000 or more to build out, plus monthly maintenance service fees. Now, aggressive start-ups like LifeSize Communications are pushing personalized TelePresence systems that cost $10,000 or so. In fact, we’ve been hearing rumors that Cisco is taking a close look at LifeSize.
2. Any-to-Any Connections: When TelePresence first launched, videoconferencing connections could only be made within a company intranet. It was like having an internal phone that couldn’t dial the outside world. But that’s changing. BT, for instance, has completed an Exchange that allows inter-company TelePresence sessions.
3. TelePresence Room Rentals: Hotels are rapidly building out TelePresence conference rooms. Imagine the following scenario:
- You’re a small managed service provider in New York that has a customer in Florida.
- Instead of hopping on a flight for an extended face-to-face meeting, you visit a New York hotel with TelePresence capabilities, and your customer visits a Florida hotel that has similar TelePresence capabilities.
- Now, you play a flat hourly fee for the room and the TelePresence connection.
These on-demand TelePresence rooms are finding homes at airports and on college campuses. Similar to finding a WiFi hotspot five years ago, people will soon search Google Maps for local TelePresence centers where they can conduct TelePresence sessions.
4. Webcasting Capabilities: HP already evangelizes managed services for its Halo TelePresence systems. And just this week, HP introduced webcasting capabilities on Halo — which sounds to me like HP is countering Cisco’s integrated TelePresence-WebEx strategy.
Virtually all customers are now familiar with webcasts. So TelePresence could be a next logical move for them.
The Managed Services Opportunity
There are multiple TelePresence opportunities ahead for MSPs.
- First, most corporate networks will require significant switch, router and software upgrades to handle TelePresence sesssions.
- Second, businesses will need somebody to actually build out TelePresence conference rooms, home offices, etc.
- And third, businesses will need somebody to actually maintain the TelePresence systems — monitoring and troubleshooting Quality of Service (QoS) issues before they go from minor issues to major problems.
The TelePresence market is still a niche. And I’m sure I’ve skipped many challenges facing the TelePresence market. But I’m keeping the faith.