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New Cisco Offerings for SMBs - Taking Telepresence From the Boardroom to Everyroom
October 26, 2011 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
Cisco, celebrating 5 years of Telepresence offerings, has just announced new products and services designed to increase the availability and range of the Cisco Telepresence experience. Traditional videoconferencing has been long viewed as a replacement for travel. In order for C-level execs to substitute video for travel, the experience had to be flawless. The ROI of keeping high profile execs working, rather than traveling, was easy to justify. As a result, expensive full immersion rooms, providing as close to a face to face experience as possible, saw impressive success and adoption over the last five years.
Meanwhile, the rest of the business world wondered when video would be available for them as well. The lower level managers in smaller meeting rooms, the SMBs, and everyone at their desktop have been clamoring for video. It isn't about saving travel costs anymore, it is about increasing productivity, making stronger human connections, and improving quality of life. People have experienced the power of videoconferencing through the numerous free commercial applications at home and want to leverage that power at the workplace.
Over the last few months, there has been a wave of announcements from Cisco's competitors regarding videoconferencing services, endpoints for SMBs, and desktop / mobile clients. With Cisco controlling over half the market share for enterprise videoconferencing it was only a matter of time before they weighed in on the issue.
Cisco Telepresence for Small and Medium Business
Cisco is leveraging their TelePresence Callway subscription service (starting at $99 per seat, per month), to make telepresence managable for SMBs who can not afford expensive infrastructure or IT support. Callway is a hosted (cloud) service offering interop with standards based systems and multipoint (up to 12 participants) support. In addition, Cisco is offering financing and leasing options for certain VC endpoints to help SMBs avoid a large, upfront, expense. Find out more about Cisco Telepresence for SMBs.
Cisco "Beyond the Boardroom" Endpoints
The Cisco Telepresence MX300 (shown above left, next to the MX200) is designed for small to midsize (9ish people) meeting rooms and workspaces. Cisco claims it is "Easy to use, easy to manage, easy to deploy." You could say the MX300 is a high end, 1080p, telepresence endpoint in a plug and play form factor. Expected to cost $27,600 when it is released in Q1 2012, it is certainly more affordable than a 6 figure immersive telepresence room, but may still be a tough call for many SMBs, even with financing.
Cisco's Jabber Video for Telepresence software application will be in beta testing Q1 2012. When available, Cisco customers will be able to send an invitation to their co-workers, customers, partners, etc. allowing them to join a videocall for free from their desktop or mobile device.
Telepresence Isn't Just for Meetings Anymore
Cisco is also leveraging their videoconferencing technology create products for specific markets. For example, their TelePresence VX Clinical Assistant (shown above) is designed to enable remote healthcare services.
Today's announcement from Cisco incorporated several elements, some new and some pre-existing. But the overall message was clear. Cisco hears the call to provide mid-range videoconferencing. This requires making endpoints more affordable and easier to use, providing services to eliminate infrastructure and IT headeaches, and extending reach to the desktop and external contacts. Cisco is working hard to address each of these items.
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