Cisco Blogs

I’m tired of TelePresence elitism, are you?

March 19, 2009 - 10 Comments

By David Hsieh, vice president of marketing, emerging technologies, Cisco.If I got a nickel every time someone says “Telepresence is great, but it’s only for top executives” I could solve the economic crisis single handed. There is this perception that telepresence is like a GulfStream jet or a luxury perk for executives — As if a great experience must only be for the high and mighty. Whoever is promoting this notion of telepresence elitism is sadly mistaken because the data shows otherwise.Cisco TelePresence customers typically average 4-5 hours of use per system per day and they report that the majority of the usage is from middle managers in the company. By the way, research shows that this means for most companies the cost per hour of usage is cheaper than inferior experiences like video conferencing. Within Cisco we hold approximately 4500 meetings via Cisco TelePresence every week. Our users come from every level of the company and every department. It’s not just executives.I’d like your help to dispel this view that telepresence is only for executives and that everyone else (meaning you and me) somehow deserve a lower quality of experience. Here’s what I’d like you to do:If you are a Cisco TelePresence user and you’re not an executive, we’d like to know how you use TelePresence in your job. Leave a comment and if we can follow up with you, include your email.If you have an idea about how we could make Cisco TelePresence even more accessible to anyone, anywhere, leave a comment and if we can follow up with you, include your email.We’ve got some pretty good ideas already, and we’ll be sharing them soon so stay tuned!

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  1. I'm not too familiar with Telepresence, but I have heard some buzz about it. How expensive is it to get set up for a small business?

  2. To show that it is mainstream, it could use an open room that is available to walk-in usage. Of course, open rooms can have short time limits per session (to be reset after opening the door) to avoid hogs.Sign-ups that require managerial permission give it more of the executive flair.

  3. @Ed L. Please feel free to write me a mail at Will be happy to review and give an 'outsider's' perspective. That said, my initial thoughts are, your paper is probably quite exhaustive given you have collaborated with Cisco in its

  4. David, My colleagues and I first discovered TelePresence 12 months ago. Inspired by its potential to change how we do business face to face, We have been working on a business case for a TelePresence solution this past year. Following multiple interviews with Cisco managers and partners, we have prepared a strategy paper for a TelePresence application that will greatly expand its availability and accesability. The paper has applications, use cases and ROI analysis. We would like to forward this to you for your review and feedback. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Ed LaughlinAccount Executive Nexus Technology Sales 1288 Hammerwood AveSunnyvale, CA 94089408-210-3907

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  6. Thanks for your insight. I have been taking the exact same approach to positioning Cisco TelePresence.The decision makers typically are executives from a business ROI perspective, but the actual end users are middle managers.In fact, I believe that the TP-500 is the device that should be in an executives' office so they won't have to leave their office to conduct meetings.The TP-3000 is the collaboration tool of choice, but if the price tag is too rich, then the TP-1300 would be something that I would very highly support.Each TP has a place and niche. Cisco needs to be very clear on how to position each of the units, as more models become available in the future.

  7. When I first saw Cisco Telepresence in action two years ago it inspired me to setup an organization to bring low-end (affordable) telepresence (i.e. video-calling) to the elderly, disabled and other socially disadvantages groups here in Ireland. Thankfully my project won the backing of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and we're currently rolling out a pilot program putting our systems in place at nursing homes and respite centers. Obviously we're aiming to get our services to elderly people living alone in rural areas eventually.Sadly the number of suicides among lonely elderly is a growing problem but we believe that video-calling, and eventually (when it's affordable) can do much to alleviate the issues.

  8. I totally understand your situation….it is perhaps ignorance that people have associated TelePresence with elitism. Cisco should consider educating the masses with facts, data and the like.Sometime ago, I read he only disadvantage of using TelePresence is that, you can't shake hands"". Super stuff!Often your CEO has gone in the open media and talked about how good the product is. Though it is a great endorsement, but given Mr. Chambers's stature, Cisco will have enormous amount of trouble shedding the 'elitism' surrounding TelePresence (if he doesn't stop). TelePresence is a good product. Period.I guess, Cisco is a leader in this space and given the current economic situation your product will gain great amount of traction if you do a few things right. I suggest, begin by looking at the Travel Management Company (TMC) Cisco is using to manage its airline negotiations. If it is a business travel industry expert like American Express, even better! Partnering with a TMC will give access to high quality business travel data of corporates. The quality, length and breadth of data a TMC will have will enable Cisco to deliver a more focused/incisive sales pitch. Leverage the relationship you have with a TMC to put a number to your story....tell the companies that ‘investing’ in a TelePresence unit will pay for itself. Every company's CFO knows, air travel is the biggest pie of business travel and video-conferencing is a tool that will directly reduce this component. My idea is based on one fact - Business Travel volume has grown over the years except for economic downturns. There are more airports, more TMCs, more planes in the sky and more travelers. Year after year these numbers have increased and will grow further as globalization pushes on. And, travel will continue to grow as the businesses move to more of relationship based selling over any other modes of selling into newer, unexplored markets. Same goes for video-conferencing - it has grown year after year and that creates room for money to be spent on innovation and the betterment of the product. To state the obvious, TelePresence may not eliminate travel completely but it sure has the potential to make every CFO do a rethink and look at the money spent by employees on company travel.Other points that may be considered in messaging (not sure if Cisco already does it): TelePresence leaves less carbon footprint compared to any other mode of company travel.TelePresence enhances efficiency of employees by eliminating the time spent by them in travel.Hope you find the above text useful. Please feel free to reach out to me…I will be more than happy to share more of my thoughts."

  9. David, Telepresence as a communication concept deserves to be used by everybody, as you stated above. Since you ask how we can get there, I do have a couple of ideas.- Stop positioning it for top executives only.- Lower the price or...- Make a more affordable peoples version"". Making a solid business case for general use will become much easier then.- make sure the product can co-exist and/or integrate with other UC solutions and devices from other vendors- Make it more plug-and-play (easier to get started)I have tried yours a few times and it is a great product. KR"

  10. Good idea Mr.Hsieh, unfortunately I cannot comment on the usage of the Telepresence but I really hope read others responses.