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Technology / Networks

TelePresence blows into Tornado Market

Networking infrastructure vendor Cisco believes that unified communications is set to soar in 2009 as companies look for ways to beat the credit crunch.

The company is pushing its unified comms offerings, video telephony, web-based video conference, video conferencing and TelePresence, in anticipation of a surge in demand this year due to enterprises cutting costs and undertaking quick ROI projects.

Cisco itself has implemented its TelePresence platform across the company and employees now only travel to meetings if they are going to see customers. The company now has 337 TelePresence rooms throughout its offices in 135 cities in 40 countries.

Cisco estimates that it now hosts over 9,000 meetings a month. Cutting back on travelling to and from internal meetings has saved the company about $260m (£183m), Tim Stone, Cisco’s European head of collaboration solutions, told CBR.

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Stone added that the company is marketing the product heavily at the moment in an attempt to take advantage of the current economic crisis: “TelePresence is one of the passions of John [Chambers, Cisco’s CEO], he’s a very strong advocate for it and that filters down the organisation.”

“The sales teams have had a lot of training and we’ve got a lot of specialist sales people pushing it. It’s got a very strong ROI, in terms of cost and travel savings. The video side is something we think will thrive in the downturn,” he told CBR.

With most of Cisco’s revenue coming from switching and routing technologies, TelePresence is not yet making a significant impact on the company’s finances, but Stone thinks that may change as the technology takes off.

“You could call TelePresence a Tornado Market, a market that is really accelerating. Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption lifecycle theory, Crossing the Chasm, states that you have innovators and early adopters, then a Tornado Market, where it goes mainstream. Some technologies go into the chasm and never come out, others cross and become Tornado Markets, which means they grow exponentially and take off. That’s where we believe TelePresence is.”

Cisco has also released the results of a survey that suggests video communication tools can boost openness and discussions in online meetings, leading to more creativity and faster decision making.

The study, called Successful Video Communication, was carried out by business psychologists Pearn Kandola and the findings were unveiled at Cisco Networkers 2009 in Barcelona.

It found that video conferencing, where participants can see each other, can help build stronger relational bonds and improve rapport between attendees, when compared to telephone and other audio conferencing.

Stuart Duff, the head of development at Pearn Kandola, said: “The factors that contribute to success during video communication relate to individuals and their mindsets, how teams are managed through their leaders, and how the organisation can create a supportive culture. We observed the value of visual cues in successful meetings, and video technologies that maximise this, such as TelePresence, are ideal for maintaining excellent relationships.”
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