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Better Than Being There: Insurer Immerses Itself in "Telepresence"

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 22, 2010

In my last post, I talked about the disruptive impact of low-cost or no-cost teleconferencing or telepresence may have on the insurance industry, and when face-to-face, onsite interaction still makes sense.

A new article in ComputerWorld explores MetLife's foray into telepresence, observing how the insurance giant has engaged Cisco TelePresence in three dedicated conference rooms in Chicago, New York and New Jersey to enable employees to interact via high-end, high-definition visual and audio communications in an integrated environment.

The environment, which employs large screens, is pretty uncanny. Fans of the TV show 24, for example, have seen the U.S. president employing Cisco TelePresence to make it appear if the Russian premier is right across the table in the same room. (Nice product placement, Cisco...)

Note: there is a distinction between video teleconferencing—such as that with Skype, in which the participants can be seen on a standard computer screen—versus “telepresence,” which provides for an "immersive video experience” enjoyed by MetLife employees and 24's fictional leaders. The more immersed you are, the pricier the experience—a high-end telepresence setup may range in the $100,000 to $400,000 range.

MetLife's setup cost just under $1 million to install, but reports seeing direct cost savings from reduced employee travel. Anthony Nugent, EVP of employee benefits sales, expects double-digit ROI in travel savings.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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