By Elaine J. Hom
Cisco is extending its TelePresence suite to include SMBs and those companies without the funds for full telepresence rooms. Cisco TelePresence Callway is a hosted service that allows customers to purchase or lease multipurpose and personal endpoints and connect those endpoints. Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence is a standards-based, HD video calling software application designed to invite participants to join TelePresence calls from desktop PCs, laptops, or tablets, expanding the previously existing boundaries of expensive room-based systems.
For SMBs, telepresence has been a technology that always seemed out of reach. According to Gina Clark, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s TelePresence Cloud Business Group, SMBs make up only 27 percent of sales in the telepresence market. This stems from the common perception that telepresence is expensive, complex, and only for enterprises. According to Cisco, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using Cisco TelePresence, so success in the enterprise has been high. But with SMBs making up most of the global business community, it’s important that they are able to communicate with each other and with enterprises.
“What we’re doing is enabling the small businesses to become part of our telepresence community,” says Clark. “By combining the hosted solution [Cisco Callway] and the endpoint, we can deliver an ROI that makes a lot of sense for an SMB.”
Cisco TelePresence Callway starts at $99 a month and includes unlimited calls to any TelePresence endpoint, as well as to any standards-based video device from third parties over the Internet. Multi-party bridging capabilities for up to 12 participants are also available.
If a company lacks telepresence endpoints, Cisco Jabber Video enables customers with desktops, laptops, or tablets to access telepresence capabilities. The customer goes to a globally accessible website and sends an invitation to any mobile workers or customers, who can then join the TelePresence call for free. A global beta program for Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence is targeted for the first quarter of 2012.