During the course of my regular briefings with industry professionals I often come across information that I find newsworthy. We have created this recurring feature as a way of sharing these items with you. Below, in alphabetical order, are notes and thoughts from a few of my most recent briefings.
The longer I spend in this industry, the greater my appreciation grows for integrators. In the old days, I had issues with the channel model of AV sales. It seemed to me that customers should do their own research and choose the solutions that are best for them, rather than whatever their integrator happens to be carrying. As I learned how things really work, I realized how naïve I was. First of all, customers have day jobs, they don’t have time to become experts in everything in the AV world. Second of all, integrators don’t generally push one solution, they carry many options so they can solve all their customers’ needs.
I recently spoke with Kelly Perkins (Marketing Communications Manager at AVI Systems) to continue my education in the role of the AV integrator, and to see how her unique approach is shaping the marketing strategy at AVI Systems. She went with her CEO on a “branding tour” to all 17 of their major offices to share their vision with the full team. A key element of their rewritten values and mission is to increase the company’s relevance through education.
AVI Systems holds many events throughout the year, as do other similar sized integrators. These events tend to resemble mini trade shows, with vendor partners staffing booths and showing off their goods. While this type of event certainly has value for customers looking to keep up on the latest technology, AVI Systems sees a bigger opportunity here. The company is looking to become a learning portal for the industry. This means they will transform these events to be less salesy and more educational. The company is also partnering with InfoComm to offer AV training and certifications.
Today’s services and technologies are developing and changing at a faster pace than ever. It can be tough to keep up on the latest information. By positioning itself as the learning hub for our space, AVI Systems could become an essential resource to the AV community, including a substantial number of potential customers. AVI Systems also recently became certified as a Microsoft partner. Another big advantage for an integrator as Microsoft continues to push into the collaboration space.
I’ve been pretty hot on the relatively new software video room product category. I was pleased to hear from David Rosenthal (BroadSoft’s UC Evangelist), that they are entering the game with their UC-One Conference Room solution.
BroadSoft’s UC solutions don’t tend to get a lot of media coverage, but they have some massive service providers reselling their solutions, including Comcast, ATT, Verizon, Vonage, Orange, British Telecom and many more. With this in mind, their entry into the software meeting room product category pretty significant.
The market is speaking pretty loudly when it comes to video enabling meeting rooms and huddle rooms. People want the ease of use they enjoy from their desktop video apps, but they also need the feature set of a true room system. In addition, they don’t want expensive hardware when today’s USB peripherals are up to the job and more cost effective.
The concept behind UC-One Conference Room solution is to directly meet this new market need. BroadSoft is taking their easy to use desktop experience and bringing it into the conference room. The workflow from the room side provides a calendar view of scheduled meetings, with single click to join. Room systems can also be easily invited into UC-One cloud meetings. The room systems are added to your organization’s contact list, just like any other UC-One user. You can then simply drag that contact, from your list, into your UC-One meeting.
As with competitive software room systems, this comes with a “kit” including an Intel NUC and a USB camera. I particularly like the fact that they chose the Logitech ConferenceCam GROUP for this kit, rather than a webcam. The camera does a much better job of capturing a meeting room than a webcam, and its integrated speaker and mic pods keeps everything simple.
Once in a while something comes across my desk that is very different, with the potential to really shake things up. The TouchJet Wave is the latest thing to catch my eye. I spoke with Helen Thomas, CEO, to get the scoop.
Right now we have a bit of a disconnect between user expectations and reality. We are used to touch screens. We like touch screens. We use touch to navigate through our phones and tablets all day long. Every day. When we see a big pretty screen in the meeting room, we expect to be able to touch it as well. However, most big screens in common areas are still not touch enabled, because of the prohibitive cost.
This is where TouchJet comes in. At about 1/70th the cost of a typical large touch screen, you can touch enable any existing monitor. The android powered device sits on top of the monitor (up to 65” for now, with capabilities for larger screens under development) and creates a laser field which tracks your finger’s movements on the screen. Basically, your monitor becomes a giant Android tablet that can be controlled by the expected touch gestures, or by using your mobile device as a remote control.
What really excited me about the TouchJet was its workflow when paired with the TouchJet Present app. The app is basically a free screen share and annotation tool. Any user on a desktop/laptop/mobile can create or join a meeting. Any meeting attendee can share their screen at any time. Also, all meeting attendees can annotate (draw) on the shared image at any time. A TouchJet Wave enabled monitor can join a TouchJet Present meeting, which opens up a number of possibilities for a collaborative session.