Trip report: Cisco TelePresence rooms

Fifteen members and guests of the National Speakers Association Northern California Chapter paid a visit to the Cisco TelePresence Suites in Santa Clara yesterday.

Cisco Telepresence Suites

Cisco has publicly available suites available for hire by the hour at two locations in the US (Santa Clara and Boston) and seven in India. “Hundreds more” will come online in 2009. They’re not cheap – rates start at $299/hr a room (and you need to rent at least two) up to $899/hr for a room that seats 18 people. Compared to the price to flying 18 people to, say, India, this is of course a huge bargain, not to mention way more environmentally friendly.

We are, needless to say, in the ‘early adopter’ phase of the product life-cycle. Remember what you paid for digital cameras when they first came out? Expect the price to drop as Cisco roll out more locations and competitors like the HP Halo rooms open up to the public.

Right now, these rooms are corporate jet replacement options (how timely!) HP, Cisco and other multinationals like P&G, Pepsi and Dreamworks are the main users as a cost- and time-effective option for CEOs and senior managers to hold meetings from their own office instead of flying across the country or around the world. Cisco CEO John Chambers mentioned in the speech I profiled recently, that his company is a heavy user of these studios for internal and customer meetings.

Cisco Telepresence Suites

So what did the NSA/NC visitors think of this?

“Awesome experience”; “Wow!”; “Much more impressive than I expected”; “Totally immersive”; “Can you, like, teach karate in here?”

While many public speakers and individual entrepreneurs teaching a class (probably not karate, perhaps Ikebana) or presenting a seminar might still be priced out of this market, NSA/NC are now ahead of the curve – knowing what is possible and, like Wayne Gretzky, skating toward where the puck is going. As well as a lower price-point, we’d benefit if (when?) Telepresence is available in auditorium-sized theaters, not just small conference rooms. Expect the technology to become more attractive over the next 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, Cisco are willing to host groups and individuals for a free demonstration hour at their Santa Clara facility. Contact Bret Chesman – tell him Ian sent you.

3 Comments so far
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This is the most impressive piece of technology I have experienced in a long time. And the timing of it, with corporate travel budgets being wiped out, is extraordinary.

As one of the Cisco specialists told us yesterday, “There is still great benefit to meeting in person initially. After that, however, the allure to not flying through O’Hare and to sleeping in one’s bed, is pretty compelling.”

Thanks for the inspiring “field trip” Ian!

Robert Graham

Just to piggy-back on your article, our company will be opening community cafes across the country in the next 12-18 months that will feature “telepresence” at an even lower rate, with lots of other amenities for the mobile business person.

We’re going to need subject matter experts,as we will have room for workshops that we will self promote.

Carter Rankin-CEO
Connections Biz Cafes

Kelly Decker comments on some of the limitations of TelePresence and takes Cisco to task for skimping on presentation skills training.

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