20 May 2009
Short-listed after voting by the readers of the magazine, Tata Communications was selected by European CEO’s panel of judges – their editors from across the region plus distinguished industry analysts. Accepting the award was Tata’s Head of Europe – Claude Sassoulas who said, “this is a validation from European enterprises that we have a ground-breaking service that is a comprehensive solution for their business requirement”.
Brave new world
Telepresence gained considerable interest, media coverage and acceptance in 2008. Vendors and service providers touted its benefits of cost, time and environmental savings, whilst the lucky employees whose companies built telepresence rooms sang praises of its immersive quality and enjoyed being able to walk down their hallway to work with their colleagues across the globe instead of going on yet another trans-continental business trip. Utilisation rates for rooms were above 60 percent, and telepresence was looking like it is the technology that fulfilled the promise of video conferencing.
With this excitement, however, companies quickly realised that the real potential of telepresence had yet to be tapped. While intra-company usage between major locations grew rapidly, many organisations are still challenged with extending the reach of their telepresence network to their small offices where the investment is harder to justify, and to their entire business ecosystem of customers, suppliers, outsourced service providers, and other third parties. Simply put, they wanted telepresence to be as ubiquitous, and as interconnected as a global fixed telephony network.
Tata Communications took several key steps towards helping customers address that challenge in 2008, and looks poised to continue to do so in 2009. Most visibly, in July 2008, Tata Communications became the world’s first and, so far, only provider of public telepresence services, with a global network of public telepresence rooms which customers can access on a pay-per-use basis. Partnering with the Taj Group Hotels, Tata Communications deployed public rooms in Mumbai, Bangalore, London, and Boston. A further four rooms were added in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Cisco, extending the footprint in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi. These rooms are available on an hourly basis to walk-in customers, and can also be directly accessed from privately owned telepresence rooms of any customer on Tata Communications’ managed services network, at very affordable rate of about €300 per hour.
Seeing growing customer demand for public room services, Tata intends to significantly increase the number of public rooms to key destinations around the work in 2009, both through direct investment and a variety of partnerships and alliances. The coming year should see an expansion of this innovative service to both the world’s major business centers and to emerging markets, greatly expanding opportunities for interaction through telepresence.
Tata Communications’ role as a Managed Telepresence Service Provider, however, is by no means limited to its Public Room business. In 2008, the company also launched a comprehensive suite of services to help enterprises manage their entire internal telepresence solution, while maintaining a very low total cost of ownership. From deploying rooms and setting up of the overall network, to remote monitoring and management, helpdesk, concierge, and scheduling, Tata Communications serves as a single point of accountability, allowing customers to focus on their meetings, not their technology.
Tata Communications’ managed services customers also enjoy seamless interconnectivity to the public room network from their private rooms. As Vinod Kumar, COO, Global Data and Mobility Solutions, Tata Communications, puts it: “Tata Communications is committed to offering its worldwide customers innovative, cost-effective and efficient ways to conduct their business. Through our unique combined public and private room model, we are bringing our customers access to a unique ‘in-person’ experience to enhance their global real-time collaboration.”
Tata is the catalyst
While Tata Communications’ innovative Public Room and Managed Private Room Services have earned it this year’s Managed Telepresence Service Provider of the Year award, it plans to have an even greater impact in 2009. As a global network operator, and a leading provider of voice interconnection services to other carriers, Tata Communications’ goal in the telepresence space is nothing short of enabling any-room-to-any-room interconnectivity, just as exists today in the telephony world. To that end, Tata Communications will be launching its Global Meeting Exchange services later this year, which will enable meetings between any two Telepresence rooms subscribed to the service, regardless of the network service provider.
Driving a concept it calls ‘Open Exchange,’ Tata also intends to offer this service not just to its own network and managed services customers, but also to customers who use other service providers networks and managed services, or who may manage their own telepresence infrastructure. The Global Meeting Exchange service will also enable such customers to access Tata’s public room network from their own private rooms, further expanding the reach of, and increasing the return on, their telepresence networks.
“The open Global Meeting Exchange will conveniently support B2B sessions among any connected private and public Cisco TelePresence rooms,” said Peter Quinlan, Director of Managed Telepresence Services, Tata Communications. “This pioneering global service framework pushes telepresence from a being a private intra-company experience to support the strong demand for open inter-company sessions.”
In so doing so, Tata will be taking the industry a big step closer to seamless interconnectivity.
Public Telepresence Services, comprehensive Managed Private Room Services, and a commitment to open Global Meeting Exchange services give Tata Communications a truly unique value proposition in the telepresence world, and one which our readers have clearly already come to appreciate.
Peter Quinlan is the Director of Managed Telepresence Services and Lee Ann Lim is the Telepresence Marketing Manager at Tata Communications.
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