Damn Right Kramer Is Shifting toward IT but It’s Taking AV with It

Kramer execs discuss big opportunities on the IT side, becoming more software-centric, plans to sell solutions as-a-service and bold distribution plans.

Tom LeBlanc

We used to focus on educational training but now we offer complete end-to-end solutions and we’ll have to focus more training on our solutions and it will take a greater front line in the future. We as a company are evolving.

New solutions such as Kramer Control seem very targeted at customers’ IT departments. Meanwhile, Steve, your background at Belden points to Kramer potentially making a greater focus on IT selling strategies. Is that the case?

Biegacki: We are focused on that, and I guess that’s a bit of a change for us. Having said that, for this to work right this has to be an and function. We still like what’s going on in the AV space and we see an opportunity to do more in the IT space.

We’re trying to take advantage of an opportunity that’s out there to call on more IT-type influencers within accounts. I think we’re well positioned to do both. We come out of the AV world but I have a lot of experience in the IT space.

We’re changing, No. 1, being aware of who we’re calling on in accounts to make sure we have the right [Kramer] personnel. The other thing is we’re also talking to a number of what I’ll call more traditional IT type distributors and integrators. These are folks who through the years have been involved in voice and data communications and they see that AV is coming in their space and want to learn more about it, and we see an opportunity there.

I think it’s [about] focusing on those folks, the IT folks at the customer, and making them more of a part of the conversation.

“We’re going to try to train some of the AV guys to explain how to work better in this IT world. We’re not going to leave them behind. We’re going to take them with us,” Biegacki says.

Will Kramer’s distribution strategy shift in any way that will impact CI readers?

Biegacki: One of the things we’re doing now is redoing and creating a number of our channel programs. To me there is also a distributor piece in addition to dealer or integrator. When I say channel programs we’re updating to provide more education around how to solve these application opportunities that are out there. What types of solution sets would we have at Kramer to solve what’s going on when we’re talking about an IT? I’m saying that we’re going to try to train some of the AV guys to explain how to work better in this IT world. We’re not going to leave them behind. We’re going to take them with us.

Plus, the flip side is for IT guys that don’t’ know AV. I’m pretty confident there is enough business to go around for all of them. Our plan is not to abandon any of them but to bring them along.

Is everything on track for Kramer Control. When will it be released?

Hoffman: We had hoped at InfoComm [2016 in June] to roll out in October, and that is now February. I don’t think there is a box for which you don’t have an optimistic goal and it turns out to be a realistic goal. It still reps everything we talked about at Infocomm. We built it to provide data. Rather than figuring out how to get data out of the legacy system we built it to provide data. All those things are 100 percent still in place, nothing has changed.

Kramer’s renewed focus on control makes me wonder if there are other categories you’ll be entering or big products to be released. Anything you want to tease?

Hoffman:  I tend to oversimplify things by saying that in an AV-IT converged world I see all those little boxes and proprietary systems and dedicated highways we did for so long, I see time boiling down to three categories; wireless presentation; control; and AV over IP.

I think the days of bringing in a giant box and signal highways and a putting in a closed system are getting more and more limited. That’s one of the key elements of Kramer Network, an enterprise management solution.

Biegacki: I think you’ll see more of a move toward software to enable things, and along that line more software-as-a-service offerings where you’ll pay more of a subscription fee with less of a capital outlay up front. I think you’ll see some changes in the pricing models and the way we’re driving capability by more of a software enablement.

Hoffman:  The term recurring revenue—historically integrators have had to live in a project world with lots of spikes and keeping people employed has been a challenge given that nature. If we can create more of these as-a-service solutions we can create more a consistent revenue that can only help those folks.