Key Questions to Ask About Telepresence Technology
Does telepresence fit into a broader video communications strategy?
For some organizations, the answer may be no, if telepresence is the first corporate video technology their executives have seen the value of investing in. In many other large organizations, however, it may be essential to make tele-presence fit into an architecture that includes previously established video conference rooms, desktop video and corporate video broadcasts. Those requirements may suggest that organizations first consider telepresence systems offered by vendors that already supply them with video technology, rather than going with a relatively new entrant.
Do you need a Rolls Royce, a Lexus or a Lincoln Town Car?
The reason to invest in telepresence technology is to deliver a high-end experience--one that may be designed with top executives in mind. But just how high end do you need to go? And how convinced are you that this technology will give you what you pay for: Will the higher-priced offerings provide higher quality? Or can you get something that's just as good (or close to it) by venturing away from the high-priced brands? To get answers to these questions, you'll need to research the various systems available and talk to professionals who are using them.
Is your network ready for telepresence?
If you really want to deliver an immersive "just like being there" experience, you will need to deliver both the bandwidth and the ability to prioritize traffic for this application, so that you can deliver the expected crystal-clear video and pristine, jitter-free audio. Even if you've already made the requisite network investments in the course of gearing up for applications like Voice over IP, you should still do the network assessment to ensure that you can support this bandwidth-hungry application.
What if your network isn't ready?
This may be the killer app that will convince your board to invest in the necessary network upgrades to get the corporate network in tip-top shape. On the other hand, you may want to consider installing some separate high-speed network links between the locations where you're putting in telepresence systems--at least as an interim step.
Do you want to manage it yourself?
If you already have experienced video and network technicians on staff, you may be able to add the job of managing telepresence to their workload. On the other hand, getting an external vendor to manage the network may reduce your staffing needs and potentially provide you with more thorough support, such as around-the-clock monitoring and service-level guarantees.
HP's Halo telepresence is offered exclusively as a managed service, and network operators such as BT offer managed telepresence services based on products from multiple vendors.