Seeing The Whites Of Their Eyes: Telepresence Versus Smartphone Video

As the proliferation of smart devices continues to evolve within the enterprise, the use of video communications is undoubtedly on the rise. Yet the question arises of whether enterprises are in fact favouring telepresence or smartphone video for corporate communication. Is there any conflict between them?

As the newfound maturity of the telepresence market coincides with the era of the smartphone, the question that’s often asked is: why would people want to use a telepresence suite when easy to use mobile devices exist which connect people across all kinds of locations, with video if needed?

According to recent research from Infonetics Research, for the full year of 2011, sales of videoconferencing and telepresence equipment were up 34% to $2.99 billion. And whilst telepresence provides a much richer, ‘almost being there’ experience than smartphone video, the two can and in fact should work side-by-side to enable a mix of these solutions in one conversation.

In determining whether there is indeed a conflict between the telepresence market and the ever-popular smartphone, we first need to define what exactly the differences are in video experience between the two.

When we think of telepresence, we are looking at room-based collaboration with rich tools of integrated data and web conferencing, with the same face-to-face conversation effect as if we are sitting in the same room with someone. But we may not have the same user experience on a smartphone – it’s not like sitting across from one another. Instead, it allows effective mobile collaboration, available anytime, anywhere, across multiple smart devices.

An effective enterprise communication and collaboration strategy needs to be able to support both these video solutions in tandem. It is true that they do provide different user experiences, but they are both needed in today’s workplace – telepresence for those meeting at the office enables a realistic environment, while smartphone applications enable video for those who are out of the office and need to drop into the conversation on the go.

Both technologies have real significance in terms of enterprise communication, and should be encouraged to work together, not undermine one another.

Manish Sablok is Head of Marketing for Central North and East (CNE) Europe at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. Manish has been at Alcatel-Lucent for 8 years, and before his appointment for the new Enterprise group he was Solutions Marketing Director for Unified Communications (UC) with a worldwide remit. Manish has a strong background in communications infrastructure, having been at Avaya for 5 years as Product Marketing Manager for South Asia and before that was Global Account and Channel Sales Manager at Siemens.