Tuesday, November 6, 2012


New age of conferencing
            I read an article about a new way that companies are cutting costs when it comes to meetings. An increasing number of firms are starting to use a  “new” technology for video conferencing: Telepresence. Simply put, it is the next generation of video meetings.
            The idea of telepresence has been around for a long time. The first company that got formed in 1993, Teleport, started the real move towards implementing this technology. The company ended up shutting down and being sold to Polycom, the leader in conferencing technology.
            For now the telepresence equipment is being put into big boardrooms of large companies. The system consists of a big wrap around screen or multiple little screens that are supposed to create an immersive 3D experience. The screen or screens work in collaboration with sophisticated cameras that track every movement of the individuals in the room. This allows for a very life like experience that phone and Skype conferencing don’t provide.
            I think that that this technology will become essential for companies in the near future. The companies that have adopted it have come back with a great deal of positive feedback. The travel costs for their company is greatly decreased, since the installment of the system. There was no way of really getting around traveling up until now. Since face-to-face interaction is very important in the business world, employees would travel to meet with people. This is so that they would be able to read body language, which really isn’t possible with things such as Skype, due to the mediocre video quality. Telepresnce not only allows the businessmen to read body language better, but it also creates a life like atmosphere. Another essential part of business meetings.
            The next generation video conferencing also increases the company’s productivity by increasing the productivity of their employees. They don’t have to endure long travel and can take care of many meeting from one place, which saves them a great deal of time. If they can take care of many things from their main location of employment, then in turn their work/ life balance greatly improves. Again increasing the productivity. Another positive to using telepresnece is the ability for the company to decrease its carbon footprint. By decreasing its carbon footprint the company could become more desired by others who are interested in the increasingly popular topic of global warming and pollution.  
            Although there is a great deal of positives, there are also a few negatives that come with the switch to telepresnece. Cost is really the only main negative. The costs for installing the system range form 200,000 to about 500,000 dollars.  It all depends on how many seats the boardroom is supposed to have. To help out with this problem, until the installation becomes cheaper, the service providers have created public meeting rooms. The interested party can rent these rooms for about 5,000 dollars an hour. Another two rare downsides to this system are that for now, hackers are able to get into it and the potential for failure, but like a lot of technology, it will improve over time.
            Overall the pros of the system greatly outweigh the cons and this system is expected to take over in about 5 years.





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  2. With corporate social responsibility and cost savings driving the agenda for businesses of all sizes, companies are always looking for ways to use new technologies to help them meet these objectives. As today's business is more global than ever before, meeting face-to-face can often be a costly venture and put a big mark on a company's carbon footprint and this is why I think that telepresence is such a wonderful thing! While in some cases there is no substitute for meeting face to face, but Polycom and other technology vendors have come up with a communications solution that takes video conferencing to the next generation. Using high definition audio, video and other interactive elements, even down to the lighting, furniture and paint on the walls, the customer can have an in person meeting experience over a converged network without having to leave their office.

    In our Selling Scholars class this past Friday we were discussing how technology is having an effect on the way we communicate with one another, and this fits in perfectly. I think that it is extremely important to be able to read body language of others during a conversation or business meeting. The body language of the other company will give you sense on the true feelings about what is going on. Phone conversations, and emails are not up to par anymore in the business world. I think that this technology will be revolutionary and will increase the globalization of companies.

    The time spent traveling from country to country will now be used to do other work. As said in your blog it would cost $5000 per hour to rent a room. If you think about it, that’s a bargain compared to what the price would be if you flew six people out to china and back! Not only does it save money but time that could be used to get more clients or improve the company. The cost should be a pro, not a con! $500,000 sounds like a lot of money, but thinking about the money and time saved and also the convenience of this technology it is very reasonable. Also, having this technology will bring the companies accreditation up, showing that the company is willing to continue to stay with up to date technology. The company shows that they are looking into the future of what is best for them. I think that know the company has new technologies would encourage me as a shareholder in the company.

    I am excited to be a young businessperson watching the impact that technology has on the business world. The technology coming into the world is changing the approach people have to making money, talking to one another and the way they live their lives. I am eager to watch what is to come if telepresence is just the beginning!

  3. Telepresence is very interesting and could revolutionize the business world. It has many benefits for companies and society. It is far more convenient for people to gather in a room and talk to their company’s branch in Tokyo than to actually fly to Tokyo. It is almost as personal as going their, accept for the physical aspect. You can see who you are talking to and their facial expressions. It brings people from around the world together in a matter of minutes. Meeting with Telepresence is more personal than a conference call or an email. Furthermore, by meeting with Telepresence a company can save countless dollars on hotel and travel expenses.
    Though this machine can do a lot of good it does have some costs. It is a very expensive piece of equipment. A couple hundred thousand dollars may be nothing to a big company but to smaller companies, that is a lot of money and many will not buy into it. Furthermore, this is a large and fragile investment. If this system were to break, you would need a specialist to fix the problems. Companies have the option to rent the machine but even that is expensive and probably not worth the hassle.
    This machine, if used by many companies, can cause major profit losses to hotel and airline industries. Businessmen make up a large chunk of travelers. If businessmen are not traveling and using Telepresence instead of meeting in persona then they will not be paying airfare and staying in hotels.
    This software could also be used for the military. If Generals or even the president could speak to commanding officers in foreign countries face to face it would be more authoritative. This software could also be used for UN meetings when certain representatives could not make it.

  4. I think Telepresence is a great technological innovation to have in the workplace. I feel that no matter how hard we try to keep face-to-face communication alive, we have to accept that this form of communication is slowly being lost. I believe Telepresence is the next best alternative.

    One article I found mentioned how “organizations that leverage the video conferencing experience also have higher business performance: higher revenues per employee, higher customer satisfaction and higher employee satisfaction.” With these positive outcomes you cannot go wrong with Telepresence. These are improvements that companies want to see and if some of these improvements are coming from Telepresence, then the investment is well worth the price. I agree that the money and energy saved from travel has a great effect on these positive outcomes.

    The article I read also mentioned how it eliminates miscommunications. “Meeting participants
remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they
see, but 70% of what they see and hear.” I found this very interesting and if Telepresence really aids in improving communication than it will greatly impact the work efficiency of businesses.

    If Telepresence becomes a dominant form of communication used in the workplace, I just worry that we will take advantage of it. I believe this is a great technology when communicating with people in other countries and across the nation. I feel that we shouldn’t rely on the technology if the people we are communicating with are just a state away. It is important to meet clients and fellow company employees in person whenever possible. We should not rely on Telepresence for all meetings, because person-to-person communication will be lost completely.

    As 3D and life-like Telepresence may be, you will never be able to shake the hand of the person sitting across from you. Once the meeting is over there will not be that interaction with the client or businessperson after the meeting to discuss or get to know the person you were conferencing with. Conferencing and meetings are crucial to the growth of a company, but the interaction you get with people after a meeting is also important. This is something you lose with Telepresence. Once the conference is done with the group on the other end, there is no interaction like there would be at the end of an in person conference. I believe this is when you get to talk and make connections.

    In all, I believe this form of technology is beneficial and has far more positive impacts than negative impacts. Businesses should definitely invest in the opportunity.