Five Myths of Telepresence Debunked!

February 8, 2013 - 4 Comments

The wide adoption and interest in telepresence has made it the target for some of the greatest myths in technology today. To respect your time, I thought it would be best to recap the five most common that I hear.

Myth #1. “It’s unaffordable and only for the enterprise”

Telepresence offers an easy and dynamic way for dispersed teams to innovate, troubleshoot and collaborate in real-time and is affordable for companies of just about any size. The development of technologies, especially via the cloud, is making the benefits of telepresence accessible to businesses around the globe. Smaller organizations are rapidly realizing the business value and rapid ROI that telepresence solutions offer and are integrating this with their broader collaboration strategy.

Myth #2. “Web-based consumer services are good enough”

Consumer-grade video services fall short of what businesses need in a video solution in several key areas, including security, quality, flexibility and feature richness. Consumer video suppliers have always promised lifelike experiences, but the reality is most solutions offer poor image and audio quality that are likely to be fuzzy and jerky. While this is generally acceptable to consumers because it’s low-cost or free, it’s not a plausible solution for conducting business.

Myth #3. “Software vs. hardware”

Market trends are showing a pickup in software-based telepresence solutions, but this should not be a “this-or-that” discussion. We are in a 24×7 global economy where software and hardware video endpoints are needed to work in concert to deliver scale, mobility and the desired experience. Having a hardware-only or software-only strategy limits the collaboration experience — it is about having the right mix and flexibility to connect in-person from a desktop, meeting room or on the go.

Myth #4. “Telepresence is too complex to set up and use”

Telepresence deployment models are designed to be tailored to the customer’s needs and level of IT support. With flexible deployment offerings — such as the cloud, on-premise, or hybrid — the infrastructure for telepresence doesn’t have to be complex. New developments have made it easy for users to initiate video collaboration inside and outside the organization, join via mobile devices and share content in real-time.

Myth #5. “The payback is limited to travel”

With telepresence, potential ROI goes well beyond travel. Virtually any workflow process can be improved with video, producing results that are measureable and quantifiable. It can improve relationships, build morale, decrease product-time-to-market, support a dispersed workplace and more quickly resolve issues. Video collaboration applications exist for virtually every aspect of a business, from management and sales and marketing to human resources and R&D.

While these myths are not exhaustive, they represent what I hear the most. Next time you are confronted with a statement about telepresence, don’t take it at face value. Do the research and you’ll find out what you need to know!

Do you agree with these five myths? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below.

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  1. Hi Snorre

    This is mostly agreeable. However something that is often overlooked are the “dangers” of a low user adoption.

    Keys to drive the usage further in my opinion are (more and always more) interop, managed services tailor-made for each organisation and an instance that engages and assists users to “learn to like” that bit of technology that we already all love.

    Thanks for the post and best regards,

    • Chris, thanks for your comments. I couldn’t agree more. Telepresence is certainly a technology that is better appreciated with increasing use, and that happens as your calling circle grows which is why interoperability becomes critical. Easy and accessible B2B and B2C capabilities will drive the video communications pervasively. As you know, Cisco is at the forefront of supporting standards and enabling flexible deployment models, including on-prem, cloud, hybrid and managed services for easy customization.

      As you and I both know, once we use telepresence, we very quickly wonder how we ever lived w/out it. Anything less just feels insufficient.

  2. My 2 cents: There is a point or “myth” #2.5 here – although you (I) may think that professional Telepresence / VC is superior – often the other party does not agree or has no access to professional-grade services => enter lowest common denominator = Skype (or similar). And as long as ad hoc interoperability is still to be achieved between professional solutions and consumer-grade offerings, Telepresence will unfortunately remain less pervasive than it could be.

    Finally, #2 “Web-based consumer services are good enough” is not a myth, it’s absolutely true for a vast number of SMEs out there. If they think these services are good enough and they use them for business, then they are in fact good enough (for them). One may like it or not – but it’s still a fact that one should take into consideration. I have a paid Jabber account, a GoToMeeting account and also other services. For me, this is not “religion” – rather the opposite. It’s all about being available and accessible with rich interactivity features for the broadest number of existing and potential collaborators.

    • Hi Kjetil,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I completely agree with your statement: “It’s all about being available and accessible with rich interactivity features for the broadest number of existing and potential collaborators.” In order for video to be pervasive, it needs to be a viable business solution – one that offers interoperability, a quality experience, scale, and flexibility for differing business needs. The more people use video to collaborate the better the experience they will expect, even at the consumer level – much in the way the mobile and IP phone industries evolved. Users won’t settle for good enough for long. I believe their expectations for a better video experience will drive innovations for feature richness, security and interop at every level – business and consumer.

      Cisco is working to deliver pervasiveness with a video collaboration portfolio that offers everything from a soft client, for scale and mobility, to fully immersive three-screen telepresence rooms, and flexible deployment models – on-prem, cloud-based or hybrid – to meet the differing needs of the user whether they’re at Starbucks or the boardroom.