Tandberg Expands VAR Telepresence Opportunity With Custom T3


Up until now, Tandberg's T3, which was introduced in February, was available only as a turnkey suite for boardroom deployments. According to Tandberg, the goal with the T3 Custom Edition is to move beyond highly defined deployments and meet growing demand for making telepresence video solutions as customizable and setting-specific as possible.

"Some rooms need to have more people, some rooms fewer, and what we want to do is encourage a very collaborative environment," said Jerry Monroe, director of telepresence for North America at Tandberg. "In areas like health care, too, you get requirements, such as the virtual viewing area of an operating room. We want to give the fundamental technology for partners to make it simple for them to deliver the experience but also be creative and respond to what the customer needs in each environment."

According to Monroe, telepresence has reached a threshold whereby it's moving beyond boardroom luxury and becoming an enterprise business necessity. Custom deployments that move beyond basic boardroom implementation will mean more value-add for solution providers, who can add their own services as part of those custom deployments.

"The idea of telepresence has taken hold. Customers are demanding it, and saying they need it for more settings, and that's a great thing," Monroe explained. "We're entering a new phase of telepresence that really opens up the opportunity for partners to get a lot more revenue. We've always been delivering telepresence through the channels but we were developing a turnkey product for a boardroom setting. We would never try to intend ourselves to develop telepresence for each of the settings and contexts it could be used. That's something a partner can do."

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The T3 Custom Edition will sell for $249,000. Tandberg plans to discuss T3 Custom and what it sees as the dominant trends in telepresence deployment at two "Future of Telepresence" Webinars it will be hosting Thursday at 2 p.m. EDT and 2 p.m. CDT.

Monroe said telepresence demand is expanding especially in markets like manufacturing, legal, research and development, and health care -- environments, he said, "where the more immersive you can make basic collaborations, the more productive those collaborations are."

He sees business-to-business opportunities as key to driving telepresence expansion in 2010. Monroe references a research note from Gartner from earlier in 2009 that predicts increased adoption of video telepresence would save organizations a collective $3.5 billion in annual travel costs by 2012.

"We will continue to do a lot of work to simplify the experience," he said. "Integrating collaboration tools in telepresence environments is another key area of focus. With unified communications, you're seeing the convergence of a lot of different media types, including some of the things customers are using all day long anyway."

Tandberg assesses its channel partner community in four buckets: video specialists, A/V specialists, systems integrators and service providers. It's service providers, especially, Monroe said, that are growing as a category because of the managed services capabilities with telepresence.

"We see that the addition of new partners doesn't mean less [opportunity] for existing partners. It means the pie grows," Monroe said. "The penetration of video right now is only about 5 percent of the addressable market. The pie is getting larger for all of our partner groups."

The new T3 rollouts come the same week as a decision is expected from Tandberg shareholders to accept or reject Cisco's acquisition offer.

Cisco on Tuesday extended its offer period to Thursday -- the third such extension to the deadline following Cisco's initial acquisition announcement on Oct. 1.

As a standalone company, Tandberg represents about 40 percent of worldwide market share for video conferencing, according to most analysts. The ongoing wave of consolidation in the video market -- which has seen Cisco move to acquire Tandberg and Logitech snap up LifeSize Communications -- has been a key networking channel story this year.