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5 Reasons Cisco And Polycom Are In Trouble In Telepresence

May 4, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
May 3, 2012 by Eric Savitz via -- Guest post written by Jeff Cavins

Jeff_Cavins.pngJeff Cavins is CEO of FuzeBox.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a videoconference with the members of a Fortune 500 company that has invested million of dollars in top-of-the-line telepresence systems (special rooms that use cameras and TVs to make it seem as if meeting attendees are all sitting at the same table). While some executives joined from telepresence rooms, other members of the company were testing some newer videoconferencing technology from other providers and joining into the same meeting via their laptops and Apple iPads.

Ten minutes into the meeting, the 90-year-old chairman made a decision on the spot: his company would stop investing in telepresence systems and networks and immediately move to a next-generation videoconferencing platform from another provider (there are several companies with disruptive technology in this space). From the chairman's point of view, there was no reason to sink more money into telepresence. In a line that I won't forget anytime soon, he stated that telepresence was the equivalent of having a single "e-mail room," from which all of his employees had to go to in order to send and receive their e-mails.

Due to its high cost, telepresence has become the private jet of company boardrooms across the globe. Fortune 1000 companies, seeking to cut down on airfare and travel costs and have their employees speak face to face over high-definition video, have invested anywhere between hundreds of thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars on these complex videoconferencing solutions and the dedicated networks required to use them. Thanks to these systems, telepresence has grown into a 4 billion-dollar per year industry. Today, however, the juggernauts of the market, such as Cisco and Polycom, are being outmaneuvered by a number of upstart companies.

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