By now, many people have had a glimpse of Cisco TelePresence, whether in the workplace or on Fox Network’s television show 24. Cisco TelePresence creates a live, face-to-face communication experience, with ultra high video and audio quality that makes it seem like you’re meeting in-person. You can hear a subtle change in voice tone or see a skeptical look as well as you could if you were sitting across the desk. The in-person experience makes interactions much more effective because around 60 percent of communications comes from body language, which you just can’t see on small, low-definition video window.
At Cisco, employees can join together from any of more than 890 Cisco TelePresence rooms in 228 cities in 57 countries. I can point to myself as an example of the difference that Cisco TelePresence in how we collaborate internally and with customers. I have a Cisco TelePresence system at home that I use to meet weekly with team members in the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and India. Since Cisco adopted Cisco TelePresence technology, my team has been able to meet more frequently, reduce travel costs and carbon emissions. And avoiding travel allows me to be home at night to help my children with their science projects.
At work, Intercompany Cisco TelePresence has enabled me to interact with more customers, more frequently, strengthening relationships. In a typical week, I participate in three customer briefing sessions, and now two of those are with Cisco TelePresence technology. (More impressively, John Chambers credits the technology with enabling him to interact with double the customers each week, 30 instead of 15.) If customers don’t have their own system, they can visit the nearest Public Cisco TelePresence room or a nearby Cisco office.
Just like any other company, we had to cost-justify the investment in Cisco TelePresence, especially given the number of endpoints we deployed. By using models developed by our Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), we have performed a return on investment (ROI) analysis and calculated we’re getting a solid 5.5 times return:
- US$615 million in travel cost savings so far since we began the deployment, and growing as we add more Cisco TelePresence endpoints.
- Productivity gains from avoiding time in airports and airplanes.
- Sales cycle reduction. From 2007 through 2009, the average sales cycle for all Cisco products decreased by 9.7 percent when account teams used Cisco TelePresence. For large sales, that translates to 30 to 32 days earlier revenue realization.
We’re receiving a lot of requests for home Cisco TelePresence systems, mostly from executives and engineers who need to meet with global teams late at night because of time zone differences. Instead of connecting over the Cisco WAN, they’re connecting over their home cable, fiber, or DSL broadband connection, using the same Cisco Virtual Office gear they already have. I’ve experienced good results with my home cable connection, with 50Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream bandwidth. We’ve found that even employees with a relatively slow 1.5Mbps home connection can enjoy a good experience if their systems are configured for 720p resolution, the minimum standard for HDTV, instead of 1080p, which we’re using for Cisco TelePresence internally.
One of the new ways we’re using Cisco TelePresence technology is to record high-definition video, which saves employees from having to rent time in a professional recording studio. They just press a button in the Cisco TelePresence room to start and stop recording, and automatically publish the video on Cisco Show and Share, our internal social video sharing application. These video recordings are becoming a very important part of information sharing at Cisco today. Cisco employees share about 4000 videos every quarter, with about 100,000 views every quarter.
One of the projects we’re currently engaged in is building Active Collaboration Rooms, where people in Cisco TelePresence meetings can behave even more naturally, including scooting back their chairs, standing up, walking around, and writing on smartboards, for example. The overall plan going forward is to continue adapting technology to human behavior instead of making humans adapt to technology.