Earlier this month, Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s SVP and the leader of its collaboration business, addressed partners, analysts and media at the company’s first ever product launch for Cisco Spark.
He rolled up on stage with a wheelbarrow. It was full of cables, mounts, wires and interfaces. You know, all the stuff that integrators use to, well, integrate?
In a swift and confident manner, he took the wheelbarrow and he poured the contents out across the stage. In a few words, he shot a dagger to the heart of the integration world.
His exact words escape me, but to summate he said, “all of this stuff is no longer necessary.”
He continued explaining how no talent beyond that of being able to hang a low profile monitor on the wall would be required to offer a level of collaboration, elegance and simplicity that the video conferencing space had talked about for many years.
Has The Integration World Been Shaken?
This new Spark Board looks like a Giant iPad. It seamlessly integrates with endpoints, mobile devices, apps and desktops. It can do collaboration around the world and it requires no configuration because it’s a mere subscription at each endpoint that covers the “Cloud.” It’s almost so easy that Staples is going to need a new slogan.
However, if you have been around the space for a while, this type of uncertainty isn’t new. It’s been an ongoing discussion for a decade–whether it has been the IT industry taking over AV, the mobile device replacing control, or Skype becoming the next business grade video solution.
So far, none have happened. At least none in a way that has completely disrupted the integration space. Is this different?
Let’s step away for a minute from the specifics of Spark. The example fits perfectly because once again there is a sense that the cheese of the integrator is being relocated. This movement makes businesses in any industry uncomfortable, and over the past five to ten years it has felt like the cheese isn’t just being moved, but living its life on the run.
In short, the industry has been shaken, but this doesn’t mean instant or even impending doom for the integrator. What it means is that once again the integrator needs to adapt and figure out how to align, partner and offer the services that customers want.
What Do Customers Want?
Perhaps we should ask ourselves a question, because we tend to perceive the world best through our own eyes. But when it comes to collaboration, I want it to be simple, what about you?
For any of us who have been around the unified communication space for some time, we know that the “simple” that we have long sold has required a full time AV technician, and/or desktop support because what we could build and deliver has long been anything but simple. If you see it any other way, you are in a state of denial.
Uber, Netflix and Facetime are the new bar. While the first two don’t directly compete with what integrators do, they are the representation of the easy button for an industry and the kind of solutions that have disrupted their former industries with brute force.
Facetime won’t displace the UC space or integration because it doesn’t meet many enterprise communication requirements. However, what it shows is the power of simplicity and this is why people love to use it.
I would argue that it wasn’t before Skype and Facetime that most people believed in video. This type of simple is what people want, and the solutions such as Spark are bearing down on the industry to meet the demand in rooms, on desktops and of course on mobile, which is our favorite place to collaborate.
Integrators will need to think very seriously about how to monetize these new solutions. Become the lynchpin in tying together what is possible with the enterprises that require a more seamless experience. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Disruption isn’t something to be afraid of, but if you are sitting by idly waiting for things to go back to the way they were, you’re going to be waiting an eternity.
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