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Cisco Launches Updated TelePresence Systems and Telepresence Interoperability Protocol - What Does it Mean? Howard Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

January 27, 2010 | Howard Lichtman
Cisco new, enhanced 18 seat telepresence classroom: The Cisco CTS 3210 with LCD screen, lower power consumption, faster installation, & better bandwidth management

Cisco has made a number of new TelePresence product announcements including releasing a new signaling protocol that will allow other vendors to effectively connect with and inter-operate with Cisco TelePresence endpoints while keeping the correct eye-lines, spacial acoustics, and data collaboration capabilities.  The company has also announced a new, enhanced version of its flagship six seat telepresence group system: The Cisco CTS 3010 and a new enhanced version of its 18 seat classroom: The Cisco CTS 3210.  Cisco has also announced five new telepresence "experiences" or application specific customizations of its existing systems. 

  • The Classroom of the Future-  A Cisco TelePresence experience for classrooms, lecture halls and corporate training rooms.
  • Cisco TelePresence Active Collaboration Room -  A collaborative environment where the virtual meeting experience is combined with collaborative applications such as Cisco WebEx for brainstorming on virtual interactive whiteboards and a document camera for design meetings across multiple locations.
  • Cisco TelePresence Remote Demonstration Center- A unique way for businesses to use Cisco TelePresence and other video technology to showcase new products and solutions virtually, and potentially over great distances, without requiring on-site demonstrations.
  • Cisco TelePresence Live Desk- An instant in-person concierge service where help can be accessed via a softkey on the in-room IP phone.
  • The Cisco TelePresence Streaming Service - live webcasting or recording services from any size Cisco TelePresence meetings to any type of desktop or mobile device, Cisco Digital Signage, or social video system.

The TelePresence Interoperability Protocol - Probably the biggest news of the announcement was that Cisco is releasing an interoperability protocol that will allow competitive telepresence offerings to connect with Cisco TelePresence systems while maintaining the eye-line, spatial acoustics, data collaboration, and other features that differentiate multi-screen telepresence group systems from traditional videoconferencing.  the specific features that Cisco has announced are:

  • H.264 720p and 1080p interoperability
  • Auto Collaborate
  • Triple-screen interoperability
  • AAC-LD and G.722 audio
  • Point-to-point and multipoint support (in both transcoded and switched environments)
  • Cisco TelePresence Extended Reach

  RadVision, TANDBERG, and LifeSize Communications have all announced that they will be adopting the new Cisco protocol.  

Read the official Cisco Press Release Here.
Cisco Telepresence Interoperability Protocol FAQ


Telepresence Options Publisher Howard Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis

We have predicted that 2010 will be the year that telepresence and videoconferencing inter-operability takes off and Cisco's announcement confirms that we called it like another Babe Ruth homer.  Cisco's decision to open up their previously proprietary telepresence platform and providing the tools to ensure an enhanced experience between disparate systems is one more piece of the puzzle that will enable the telepresence innovators and early adopters to begin connecting their organizations to their partners, vendors, and customers for effective global inter-company visual collaboration.

In addition to the release of Cisco's Telepresence Interoperability Protocol we see a number of technical, economic, and geopolitical factors converging that we believe will lead organizations to begin connecting together using telepresence and visual collaboration in what we believe will be a virtuous cycle of increasing utility and greater ROI:

Crash2.jpg1. The continued collapse of the airlines and the soaring hard, soft, and opportunity cost of physical travel - The International Air Transport Association announced this week that International airlines suffered their biggest decline in traffic since 1945 as passenger demand fell 3.5% and freight fell 10.5%. The IATA estimates that Airlines have collectively lost $11 Billion dollars in 2009 and will suffer losses of $5.6 Billion in 2010.   Japan Airlines recently declared bankruptcy and announced 15,600 job cuts.  As the airlines continue to hemorrhage cash you can expect to see further bankruptcies, downsizing, and consolidation which will continue to make physical travel more expensive and less convenient.  Expect less direct flights, more delays, more travel restrictions, and less capacity in the system to reroute travelers who suffer mechanical trouble or missed flights and/or connections.      

2.  The Ongoing Depression  and the Need for an "Economic Disaster Recovery Plan" -    We advise our consulting clients to view their telepresence and visual collaboration investments as part of an "Economic Disaster Recovery Plan" which offers the ability to continue international operations in the event of numerous potentially disastrous scenarios: collapse of air travel, public health emergencies, war, terrorism, false flag terrorism, currency collapse, economic collapse, etc.  For all the MainStreamMedia's talk of recovery the world's economy hangs by a perilous thread:  Standard and Poors has recently raised the prospect of downgrading Japan's sovereign debt, they have already downgraded Greece and Portugal and both countries are being discussed as possible bankruptcies, and there is a growing political movement in Iceland pushing the government for a debt moratorium. In the United States 34 states are being forced to borrow from the federal government to keep the lights on.  I could go on and on and on... We think investments in a global inter-company telepresence capability is economic disaster insurance that pays for itself in good times and becomes invaluable in bad.

3. Telepresence Exchange Capabilities - The sophisticated carriers and managed service providers who support enterprise deployments of telepresence and videoconferencing are now deploying exchange services that connect together disparate networks to allow secure, quality connections for high definition inter-company calls. Important Note:  The Human Productivity Lab and Telepresence Options are publishing the first comprehensive review of the services next week and this is the last week to get a 20% pre-release discount on the report prior to publication:

4. Supply and Demand Chain Demands - We are already hearing reports of companies that have large supply and demand chains notifying their suppliers and customers that they expect their partners to have the capability to do business via telepresence and video. It doesn't take too many large organizations requiring their suppliers to deploy telepresence and visual collaboration capabilities before Reed's Law kicks in and others join as well. 

5.  Growing Utility - As telepresence and effective visual collaboration networks grow and inter-connection between firms increases who you can connect with and what you can do in a telepresence environment grows as well.  Growing utility improves the ROI which lowers the threshold for companies to invest in a virtuous cycle that continues to improve as more companies join and applications are developed.  One example is ConnectFN (From the NetRoadshow team) which is launching a telepresence financial Community of Interest Network in Q2 that will connect companies with institutional investors, mutual funds and leading investment banks to improve the Investor Relations process. Right now it has been estimated that the average public company CFO spends 25%+ of their time on deal and/or non-deal roadshows and other IR activities. Reduce their personal burden in addition to all the other benefits that telepresence offers and I'll bet more will buy... Expect to see more and more telepresence applications like this that will drive adoption.

HPL_Brockmann_Handbook_Cover.jpg6. Knowledge of how to do Inter-Company Telepresence and Visual Collaboration Right is Spreading - Telepresence Options and the Human Productivity Lab have recently published The Inter-Company Telepresence and Videoconferencing Handbook and are conducting a conference and working group on setting up an Inter-Company Telepresence and Videoconferencing Program on April 22nd in Reston, VA.  We are also offering consulting for organizations that are interested in setting up their own Inter-Company Telepresence and Visual Collaboration Programs and organizing private conferences and working groups for companies with large supply and demand chains.  We are also publishing the first comprehensive review of Telepresence Exchange providers next week that looks at secure, cost-effective ways for organizations to connect their networks with partners, vendors, and customers.

Put all these factors and others together and 2010 becomes the year that the business world begins connecting together to do business... at the speed of light.

About the Author
HSL_Headshot.jpgHoward Lichtman is the Publisher of Telepresence Options and the President of the Human Productivity Lab, an independent consultancy that helps organizations develop telepresence and effective visual collaboration strategies. Mr. Lichtman is the author of The Inter-Company Telepresence and Videoconferencing Handbook.  The Lab provides corporate clients with acquisition consulting, RFI/RFP creation, and ROI/TCO financial modeling on telepresence systems, telepresence managed services, and inter-networking telepresence. The Lab also provides investors with prescient insight into the rapidly growing telepresence industry.  Mr. Lichtman is also the Editor of the monthly newsletter Telepresence Options Telegraph

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