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Telepresence - What's Now and What's Next for HD Video Conferencing? An Interview With Conferencing Advisors, Inc.

August 11, 2011 | William Zimmerman

If you've been keeping track of video conferencing technology, you'll know that it's been evolving at nearly break-neck speed as of late, becoming not only a luxury (like it was 10 years ago) but a critical communications component of any successful company.

At a recent TMCnet Editorial Open House held in San Jose, California, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) took some time to sit down with Walter Somsel, director of Sales at Conferencing Advisors (News - Alert) Inc. (CAI), a value-added reseller (VAR) provider of conferencing solutions, products and services including high definition (HD) video conferencing, telepresence, audio visual integration and managed conferencing services.
What's "Now" in Video Conferencing?

Tehrani first asked Somsel what the broader factors acting on the video conferencing industry are right now. Somsel identified several.

"Our industry is growing very rapidly," noted Somsel. "If you look at the macro-environment of video conferencing within the economy in general, [companies] have to get more stuff done with fewer people...and faster." Somsel also pointed out that it's not uncommon for employees of a company to be spread out all over the country, or even the world. Given the competitive nature of today's economy, it's not only the office-based employees who need to be in constant contact, but also mobile employees carrying devices such as tablet computers and even smartphones. These factors, all combined, have been huge drivers for HD video-conferencing, says Somsel.

Tehrani suggested that another factor might be a desire on the part of companies and employees to reduce their reliance on costly and frustrating travel, as well.

"People are avoiding air travel now more than ever," noted Tehrani. While costs have come down a bit, he said, ticket prices tripled and quadrupled [earlier this year]. "Companies are always looking to reduce costs," he added.

Somsel agreed, but also said it's not only about reducing costs, travel time and intrusions into employee personal and family life, but that today's video conferencing solutions offer productivity enhancement features that are incredibly valuable. In addition, while once interoperability issues between legacy equipment was a huge problem, more and more video conferencing vendors are choosing to standardize, making implementations with a company's legacy equipment, and multiple vendor solutions, much easier.

Where To Start?

Next, Tehrani asked how a mid-sized company, for example, would even begin to choose a solution, given the dizzying array of vendors, platforms and applications in the market today.

Somsel said that CAI begins by analyzing the customer's needs. Next come the three most critical determinants: the cost of the deployment and how it fits with the company's budget, the ease of use of the solution and bandwidth efficiency as it relates to the company's bandwidth resources. CAI is equipped and experienced in evaluating all these factors and fitting a customer with the best possible combination of resources to meet its video conferencing needs.

"Video Conferencing Is About 'Who You Can Call'"

In its earliest implementations, enterprise video conferencing was primarily an internal company resource, said Somsel: sales personnel on the road communicating with the home office, employees in disparate offices including one another in staff meetings. While this has always been useful, CAI believes that it should also be about inter-company calling, said Somsel. CAI enables its clients to call company to company, as in one enterprise communicating via video conferencing with its partners or prospects, for example.

What's Next For Video Conferencing?

Somsel indicated that one big driver today in video conferencing - and which may indicate future direction - is that more and more people are inquiring about how they can engage in HD video conferencing not only from their office, but from their homes, as well, on their personal devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
And then, of course, there's the 3-D. Wait...3-D video conferencing? How cool is that? Well, yes, it would be cool. But you may have to wait a bit longer for that, says Somsel.

"Wearing the [3D] glasses might be a problem," he added.

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