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SA ready for telepresence

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Telepresence results in decreased travel times, and accelerates project developments. Despite this, there is still a myth that South Africa is lagging too far behind in terms of bandwidth and the cost thereof to make telepresence viable. DAN ENGEL, regional sales manager of Polycom, busts this myth. He explains that our new undersea cables not only offer an increase in bandwidth but also a greater return on investment, due to reduced travel time.

The numbers from industry analysts are in, by 2015 the video and telepresence market is expected to reach $5.3 billion, the enterprise Unified Communication (UC) market size is expected to reach $14.5 billion and over 200 million works globally will run corporate-supplied video conferencing from their desktops. Astounding figures – enough to make anyone’s head spin and in fact, the rate at which information and communication technology (ICT) has been developing over the last decade, such figures have done exactly just that ‚ leaving many businesses, big and small, wondering what hit them. Perhaps the main reason is the enormous collaborative potential that is opening up, threatening the traditional ‚bricks and mortar’ of business operations.

But how can you deny the studies that show that decrease in travel time yields high productivity and that telepresence accelerates project implementation, time to market and real time decision making, not too mention increased business value in most divisional areas as for employees? Yet despite this, locally there is a myth that video conferencing and telepresence is an expensive technology, exclusively reserved for the corporate boardroom. And, given our local market, it requires bandwidth ‚ bandwidth that South Africa now has due to the many undersea cables, but certainly not at an affordable price. Well this myth has just been busted!

The fact is that telepresence should form part of a broader enterprise visual communications strategy, and although perceived as expensive, the technology has the ability to show a business a clear return on investment in up to six months. Furthermore, South Africa’s bandwidth requirements are experiencing positive change, resulting in the ability to invest in such solutions for businesses of all sizes. And on top of this, the video conferencing industry is constantly innovating, developing technologies that factor in such concerns. Enter the H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC) technology, distinguished by its ability to deliver consistent, high-quality video and audio experiences at any bandwidth and over networks prone to packet loss and congestion, like the public Internet and mobile broadband networks! Further to this, by leveraging the computing power available in network elements, SVC solutions result in superior economics for businesses deploying such UC solutions. Additionally, SVC solutions also encompass client and intelligent core elements and interoperate seamlessly with existing deployments, offering full investment protection to businesses – truly allowing businesses and consumers to embrace collaborative solutions no matter what the challenge. The result – companies being able to empower their employees at all levels to be more efficient and productive, and to instantly communicate face-to-face with their partners and customers wherever they are located. Indeed, to achieve maximum ROI through enhanced productivity and organisational efficiency, telepresence must be extended beyond the boardroom and made accessible to teams wherever they work ‚ at headquarters, branch offices, in the field, on the road, or at home. And what’s more ‚ think of the green benefits. Fewer flights mean less carbon emissions ‚ a massive reduction in a company’s carbon footprint and certainly a key step in achieving good corporate governance.

Video conferencing and telepresence solutions have enabled thousands of organisations across the globe to work smarter and increase productivity ‚ now its time for South African businesses to achieve the same! In the wake of a recession businesses today are striving to do more with less, always looking for ways to improve productivity, and at the same time, increase ROI and such collaborative technologies can help them achieve just that. Video communication and telepresence is at a tipping point. As new applications emerge, open standards allow for interoperability, as well as backwards compatibility ‚ and these are key to achieving widespread adoption and delivering value for businesses and customers everywhere, including Africa. The time is now!

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