Cisco And Hewlett Packard Need Better Business Models For Video Conferencing.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on August 5, 2008

Flying to business meetings and conferences is not only hugely expensive these days, it is hugely polluting. Yes, I know that TED, the World Economic Forum and the Oscars are all “carbon neutral,” meaning that they pay people in poor countries not to cut down trees (right, I’m cynical about the rich paying the poor to save the planet as they jet around talking about saving the planet).

We need a way to communicate without actually going anywhere. And we have it. Both HP’s Halo and Cisco’s Telepresence video conferencing system are amazing high-tech systems that enable you to communicate with people around the world in a deep, emotional way. You can read faces, get the tonal nuance of voice—all the things that physical meetings give you.

The problem is that they are very expensive. The business model is for Cisco and HP to set up a dedicated video conferencing room for a company and charge them lots of dough every month for the service.
What is needed is mass production of the technology so that anyone who has, say $50,000, can install video conferencing in the family room or den—or around the office. Or hospital. Or university. Or store.

We focus these days on battery innovation or automobile innovation. But video conferencing could elminate a lot of transporation entirely.

So how about it Cisco and HP? Can we move your great video conferencing technology from the elite exotic to the mass produced—and save the planet too?

Reader Comments

Dean

August 5, 2008 6:11 PM

"What is needed is mass production of the technology so that anyone who has, say $50,000, can install video conferencing in the family room or den—or around the office."

I for one will not be spending $50,000 for my family room or den or my small business for video conferencing any time soon. How about say for $500 ... this would bring it into the do-able for all sorts of uses. I can do video on my laptop and that was included in the cost of the machine.

B Gleason

August 5, 2008 7:31 PM

There is already a more immersive, scalable, and much cheaper solution on the market then HP's and Cisco's. It's called the IOCOM Grid, Check it out at www.iocom.com

ZORRO

August 5, 2008 9:24 PM

By far the best Web 2.0 PC Communuication system available at a fraction of the cost. "a webex / IP communication system on IP Steroids..."
www.webmeetingstoday.com

Eric Quanstrom

August 6, 2008 5:03 AM

I think the figures discussed here are completely unrealistic. Pushing businesses with high-margins (Cisco, HP) to drop their cost (and profit) and change their entire infrastructure seems a fools errand. Why not write about companies working from the bottom up?

My bias comes working for such a company-- SightSpeed(www.sightspeed.com)

While other providers of business-grade video conferencing require dedicated, high-capacity bandwidth – often T1 and above – or a co-located server to make their systems work, SightSpeed Business requires nothing more than consumer broadband. SightSpeed Business users, with only built-in or plug-in Webcams and microphones on their laptops or desktops can participate in up to nine-way (9 location) high-quality conferences.

Oh yeah, and the cost is I think the figures discussed here are completely unrealistic. Pushing businesses with high-margins (Cisco, HP) to drop their cost (and profit) and change their entire infrastructure seems a fools errand. Why not write about companies working from the bottom up?

My bias comes working for such a company-- SightSpeed(www.sightspeed.com)

While other providers of business-grade video conferencing require dedicated, high-capacity bandwidth – often T1 and above – or a co-located server to make their systems work, SightSpeed Business requires nothing more than consumer broadband. SightSpeed Business users, with only built-in or plug-in Webcams and microphones on their laptops or desktops can participate in up to nine-way (9 location) high-quality conferences.

Oh yeah, and the cost is

Give it a try. My guess is you will find a unique solution to rising gas prices, without sacrificing face time.

Chris Cooper

August 6, 2008 9:26 AM

Bruce--

You are referring to ultra-high-end video conferencing (aka telepresence). Both Polycom and Tandberg (the two most popular video conferencing brands) produce HD systems that start in the $10,000 range. And while quality has improved markedly over the last few years, the entry price continues to drop. One company that carries both Polycom and Tandberg is IVCI (www.ivci.com). Keep in mind that once you are in HD the conference quality is more or less limited only by the bandwidth alloted and the quality of the display.

It won't be too long before everyone has one in their den.

Thanks for listening.

Chris

Scott

August 6, 2008 10:08 AM

Cost of production is a seperate issue and will resolve itself over time. Telepresence is the future and will overtime become part of the standard travel mix of business as there is now a compelling alternative to flying with Telepresence. Bandwidth and management is the bigger problem, with both Cisco and HP's solutions drawing 15 Mb of QoS. This is at least $90k p.a. opex in pure bandwidth. Then there's also the problem of interoprability, MPLS network interconnects and reservation and management of these solutions. Our best solution, short and medium term is Public Access where a sufficent network of standardized Telepresence is made available for people to use on a pay a you use basis.

Goodyear

August 6, 2008 2:15 PM

LifeSize Express is a fully functional High Definition system for MSRP $5,999. LifeSize Room MSRP $12,999. All these system will work over the public internet. All will do 1280 x 720p at 30fps. Best price performance available today, period.

Raul

August 6, 2008 6:09 PM

The challenge isn't just buying the room, or the network bandwidth, or the ongoing support, or breakthrough ease of use, or ... It is putting it all together into a true telepresence solution that companies will use. HP appears to be the one company that understands that and has put it all together with their Halo system. Yeah, the cost is high today, but as more people use this, the cost is sure to drop dramatically. This really can go a long way in helping save the planet. Finally someone doing something to eliminate the need to travel so much!

Brent

August 6, 2008 9:42 PM

For a demo of the LifeSize HD video conferencing solution, email me a brent@theofis.com Find out why LifeSize is the price performance leader in the marketplace today.

Duke

August 6, 2008 11:02 PM

How can a company justify a proprietary technology from cisco or hp that will cost them over 15k a month in managed services!? In order for videoconferencing to be scalable to the masses it needs to be easy to set up and work on readily available networks that are inexpensive (FIOS 15/2 circuit is $50/month). The system must provide a high quality, high def experience at a low cost. The LifeSize Express with an MSRP of $4999 is the only system by any manufacturer that can accomplish this. You can pay twice as much for other manufactures systems and still only receive standard def resolutions!

Stefan

August 8, 2008 7:32 AM

I agree with Bruce! Relying only on telepresence is an expensive proposition that does not make business sense for many organizations that can benefit from video: companies, schools, hospitals, etc.

We are committed to make using video as easy as dialing a phone for the end user and as easy to administer and manage as an e-mail account for the IT staff. This is the reason we offer a complete portfolio including ‘the solution for the business masses’ CMA 4000 that lists for $100/seat in a 200-seat configuration and as low as $85/seat in a 400-seat configuration.

You can read more about CMA here:
http://hdvoice.tmcnet.com/topics/unified-communications/articles/35395-polycoms-visual-ip-communications-vision-comes-life-with.htm

Stefan Karapetkov, Emerging Technologies Director at Polycom, Inc.

Billy

August 11, 2008 2:55 AM

WTF are all those people using the comments on Businessweek.com to advertize their own product or solution??
Is there a moderator here??

Billy

August 11, 2008 3:02 AM

By the way people, your IOCOM, SightSpeed, LifeSize and other softwares are not better than any Skype or MSN. Software is nothing when talking about video conferencing, you basically need a good video compression, and HP already have the technology with remote graphics for exemple. What you really need is a good networking solution that gives you broadband internet access. That's what HP and Cisco are selling.

Wayne Shipman

August 11, 2008 3:14 PM

All very interesting comments... from a vendor's perspective. Where are the users?

Corporate America has invested, but people only use this technology when it benefits them. They built the facilities, but never trained people to effectively manage meetings done this way. Sure, people trained how to USE the technology physically, but not make the technology WORK FOR THEM.

There is also the question of trust-building. This needs to be established before the technology is used. It works for established relationships, but not building new ones. My guess is that 90% of the video conferencing is mis-used or could be replaced by voice conferencing. Any takers? Any studies?

mike

September 23, 2008 4:30 PM

obviously no moderator, Billy. Another POS BusinessWeek/Nussbaum self-congratulatory crap.

Post a comment

 

About

Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!