I recently spoke with Yorktel CEO, Ron Gaboury, about the company’s current direction and strategy, as well as how it managed to weather the industry shakeups in recent years. With the announcement of their new Univago video service, I can now share what I learned.
Some AV integrators have been hit hard by the recent shift from hardware sales to software and service sales. If your sales team is used to selling boxes, it can be hard to transition to services, which could have completely different commission structures, sales approaches, client relationships, etc. When I asked Ron to share his strategy for guiding Yorktel through this transition, he explained that Yorktel was well positioned for this shift from day one. Services have always been the lead when it comes to sales for Yorktel. While Yorktel can certainly build hardware based rooms and environments, the hardware is incidental to the overall service they are providing for any given customer. This explains why Yorktel hasn’t been constantly reinventing itself over the last few years, as many industry players have been forced to do.
With this “services first” vision in mind, the strategy behind Univago makes perfect sense. When any service provider adds a new service, it is faced with the choice of whether to develop their own solution, or offer pass-through licenses to other clouds and services. While a number of disparate cloud based platforms and tools are already available, Ron did not believe that any of them could completely meet the needs of Yorktel’s large enterprise customers. Only Yorktel had access to study their customer’s needs directly. They also studied the existing uses of the over 10,000 meeting rooms they currently support. With this in mind it seems clear that Yorktel was best suited to create a cloud solution to meet these needs and support these rooms.
At first blush, Univago appears to be a cloud virtual meeting room (VMR) service with strong interop support. A very popular, and growing, segment of our industry consists of platforms and services allowing for calls between various devices and services (Skype for Business, H.323, WebRTC, etc.). Where Univago seeks to stand out however, is by offering more than just a bridge in the cloud. Univago was designed to be a much more robust and complete service.
In addition to the VMRs (which they call URooms), Univago includes the interoperability service, and a “virtual receptionist” which I am assuming works similar to PBX based call routing. The service can be white labeled and supports hybrid environments, to keep local traffic efficiently, and securely, off of the public internet. I signed up for a trial and was in a meeting in a browser in minutes. The one thing I would put on my wish list for Univago would be Slack integration, but that is an easy fix. Wish lists aside, this is a pretty safe answer for any serious enterprise looking for today’s cloud-based interop video meeting dynamic, with massive scalability and Yorktel’s 24/7 support.