Cisco TelePresence Is Dead. Long Live Cisco TelePresence!

May 22, 2012 - 2 Comments

A high five to Zeus Kerravala for hitting the nail on the head in his response to a recent Forbes article predicting the demise of telepresence as we know it. Here’s the key quote:

“The real question to be asked here is whether there is enough innovation left in telepresence to allow Polycom and Cisco to stay ahead of the commodity curve, and I think the answer to that is yes.”

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a dancing elephant.  Why, just a mere five or so years ago, telepresence was just a twinkle in John Chamber’s eye.  Allow me to meander down memory lane. . .

Take a look at the videoconferencing growth numbers from a Wainhouse report from the end of 2003:








It’s basically bumping along—revenue in Q403 is not much higher than revenue in Q1/00.

Now, take a look at the same report from end of 2007:

I’m not saying that Cisco was solely responsible – HP came out with its ill-fated Halo in December 2005 – but I’m going to go out on a blogger’s soapbox and say we contributed in a big way.

So, what’s the point?

The point is: Cisco is constantly looking to disrupt markets — even those that it’s already in.  How are we doing that for Cisco TelePresence?

1.  We are taking interactive video use cases beyond meetings.  This means we’re talking about truly business-impacting use cases, from remote interviewing (hey, I’m hiring!), to expert-on-demand applications for retail banking, to training and live events.

2. We are expanding the uses of video.  With our portfolio of enterprise video content products, telepresence becomes one video use case among many.  Telepresence can transcend distance, but technologies like recording and streaming can transcend time and scale.

3. We are introducing truly novel — and useful — innovations.  So you’ve recorded your telepresence-enabled company meetings.  How can you make it useful?  Cisco is innovating with technologies like Cisco Pulse video analytics, which uses voice recognition to automatically detect different speakers and keywords.  That makes it easy to scan, browse, navigate within videos, as well as finding nuggets of video information in a large cache of videos.  Take a look at an example from this winter’s GOP presidential primary debates.

It’s a brave new video world out there, and it would be wise not to underestimate the power of innovation at Cisco.



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  1. In my opinion, the innovation will come from integration into the overall UC solution. CUCM 9.0 starts to make that a reality by incorporating video-centric features into the leading UC platform.

    In order to convince end users to utilize video, you have to make it easy to use. Cisco has done that both in hardware (the TelePresence Touch controller is a thing of genius…it is so far beyond the competition that end users can’t imagine going back to the old IR remotes) and in access to the technology through solutions such as Jabber.

    • Totally agree, Mark! You know when technology is successful when even a toddler can figure out how to make a telepresence call!