Let me tell you a story about a friend of mine, we’ll call him Tom. What if I told you that Tom got in his car this morning, and drove into Manhattan. From there, he headed over to Frankfurt, Germany, to interview a project manager, then quickly jumped over to Bangalore to review the current status of his new product build. Both meetings were time sensitive, and took place face-to-face. Best part was, Tom was back home in time to have dinner with the family. Is Tom the head of a fortune 100 company travelling by private jet? Not quite. He is the owner of a small software company, and he travels by TelePresence, hosted by Marriott.
The trend of meeting virtually has continued to swoop upward as we move toward 2011 and beyond. Cisco’s hardware and software has allowed a new generation to work virtually, saving time, money, and the environment. While Cisco remains synonymous with networking, it has also become synonymous with collaboration. The growth of Cisco TelePresence has shattered early expectations, and its expansion has been well documented. In an earlier post, I covered how TelePresence has expanded from the boardroom and into the home. Today I will be discussing how TelePresence has grown again, this time expanding the footprint and accessibility of its private TelePresence network.
A new partnership between Cisco, Marriott Hotels, and AT&T was formed last year, to expand the accessibility of high-definition TelePresence to the public. Branded “GoThere Virtual Meetings,” this partnership will allow anyone to book a Cisco TelePresence 3000 equipped room, at strategic Marriott locations throughout the country, utilizing the AT&T nationwide backbone. For those companies who already own TelePresence systems, this partnership will dramatically increase the value by allowing them to easily connect to any of these Marriott locations. Marriott is the first major global hotel company to offer Cisco TelePresence meeting options with the AT&T network to its customers in locations worldwide.
In January, Marriott opened the first of their GoThere meeting rooms, one at the New York Marriott East Side Hotel and one at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center near Washington, DC. I had a chance to see the New York location recently, pictures are below. The unit is a model 3000, which incorporates three 65” high definition screens, multiple cameras, screen sharing capabilities, high-end mics, and specialized lighting. Even the paint color is recommended by Cisco. The GoThere studio is located in the same area as the conference meeting rooms, making it easy to incorporate its use with larger physical meetings. All locations will have an identical Telepresence model and room setup.
The rollout schedule is fast paced; the team responsible for this program expects to have 25 locations active in the next 12 months. This is great news for businesses who already own TelePresence rooms, but also for those who are not ready to purchase their own system. Once GoThere has a presence in most metropolitan areas, the ease of access will open the door to many who have not used the technology, as well as those who are very familiar with it. This technology really is a true replacement for business travelers who travel frequently for short meetings. A full day in a Telepresence studio could effectively replace two-weeks of air/hotel travel, and at a fraction of the cost.
Remember, this is public TelePresence, you don’t need a business meeting to reconnect with someone face to face. Birthday parties, first dates, even seeing a newborn baby for the first time, are just some of the unique TelePresence uses I have heard about. As the hassles of air travel increase, I expect more and more creative uses for face-to-face, real-time video conferencing will arise.
The environmental benefits are obvious. As both companies and individuals begin to track their carbon footprint, air travel quickly races to the top of the list. GoThere Virtual meetings can fit into any company’s sustainability plan.
Booking a GoThere meeting room is easy. Customers can go to https://www.gotherevirtualmeetings.com/ to sign up. The current rate is $499 per hour, for one room, meaning the hourly cost will multiply per end-point, as TelePresence sessions can connect to many locations in real time. Once the meeting is booked, starting the meeting is literally as easy as pushing a button.
Check out the following links to learn more about GoThere Virtual Meetings, and be sure to check one out when it comes to your area. If you have used Public TelePresence in the past, please leave a comment!