TelePresence Meets Managed Services
As video moves onto IP networks, managed service providers are exploring new opportunities in TelePresence — the next-generation video conferencing systems that bring distant parties together into a single virtual conference room. Here’s how TelePresence and managed services will converge in 2008 and beyond.
I participated in a TelePresence demonstration about a year ago, and was blown away by the experience. In an ideal TelePresence setting, you forget about the technology around you — and feel as if people on the other side of the world are seated across the table from you.
So, where do managed service providers fit in? TelePresence can be pretty darn expensive to deploy — about $300,000 per custom executive board room. Some systems (from companies like LifeSize Communications) are less expensive. Plus, I expect TelePresence time shares to emerge over the next few years.
In other words, businesses will be able to pay a room fee or service fee to use TelePresence board rooms in upscale hotels, airports and other types of travel centers. I also expect commercial landlords will install TelePresence systems for their business tenants to use and share on a fee-based system. And you should expect TelePresence pods — located in health care clinics, banks and other remote branch offices — to surface over the next few years.
That’s where VARs and managed service providers enter the picture. TelePresence systems require managed services contracts to maintain and support. They also require back-end management systems and remote monitoring systems, to ensure demanding customers get what they pay for.
Already, major telecom companies are evaluating opportunities in TelePresence. VARs and managed service providers would be wise to do the same.
If you’re evaluating the TelePresence market, try to look beyond managed hardware. The real action will take place at the application level. For instance, it’s safe to expect WebEx partners to take a close look at TelePresence, since Cisco is now integrating WebEx with its unified communications strategies.