Monday, September 22, 2008
Small Businesses: Your TelePresence Room Is Ready
Conventional wisdom says TelePresence -- the next-generation video conferencing technology -- is best positioned for enterprise customers with big IT budgets. But through affordable managed services, small businesses are poised to join the TelePresence party.
Fact is, TelePresence can benefit small businesses in many ways. It can allow entrepreneurs to meet virtually with business partners, customers, investors and even job candidates scattered across the globe -- without booking expensive business trips or depending on impersonal conference calls.
TelePresence creates a virtual environment where all participants feel as if they're seated in a single executive conference room. You can read each person's body language. You can maintain eye contact. And you can focus on deep discussions.
Only for Big Enterprises?
Now, for the challenge: The TelePresence industry is gaining momentum within large enterprises that want to improve virtual communications with customers, board members and other key influencers.
However, small business owners are not very familiar with TelePresence. And in many cases, small businesses couldn't afford the upscale conference room designs and back-end IT infrastructure that TelePresence requires.
A Better Option
Of course, entry-level TelePresence systems allow small businesses to get started with high-end video conferencing without breaking their budgets.
Still, there is another option that small businesses should consider: Managed TelePresence services, which are popping up in hotels, airport terminals and other places that involve business travel.
In a typical scenario, many upscale hotels will soon offer TelePresence conference rooms that you will be able to reserve for an hourly fee. Assuming the hotel chain has locations throughout the country and across the world, you'll be able to invite customers, partners and remote employees to participate in TelePresence sessions simply by telling them to drive to a local hotel.
The hotel, working in partnership with a service provider or major Telecom partner, will manage the entire TelePresence experience -- shielding the small business owner from any potential IT complexities.