The nature of commercial system integration is changing.
In addition to selling products, integrators are beginning to adapt a service-based business model. CI checks in with one company that has made this shift within the last couple years.
Last week, AVI-SPL hosted its annual Global Sales Meeting, bringing over 250 employees and 250 partner attendees together in sunny Tampa, Fl.
The focus at the meeting was AVI-SPL‘s recent shift from products to services, offering their customers technology “solutions” instead of making box sales.
“To be relevant in the space today, you can’t just be talking about bits and bytes and bandwidth,” says Mike Brandofino, Executive Vice President of Video and Unified Communications at AVI-SPL. “You need to be talking about how they affect businesses.”
And it’s working: AVI-SPL saw a 10 percent growth in service revenue from 2012 to 2013. This suggests the company is growing more proficient in creating the right solutions for the right customers. The trick is being able to understand both the technology and the people, to be able to fit one with the other. Which means that it’s not necessarily about the brand.
“Our first question [to our customers] has to be, ‘What is your meeting like?'” says Brandofino. Do you need multi-room videoconferencing? Might you benefit from a global help desk? Do you need to be able to train people a thousand miles away? There are 3,500 different types of products from manufacturers. How do customers choose?
Take Block ME, for example, AVI-SPL’s new video signal interrupter device. To ensure privacy in company meetings, Block ME stops video calls from being initiated by blocking specific IP traffic to and from a network. The device is easy to use, having one large “block” button and green and red lights signifying on and off, whether your meeting is public or private. Is this something a customer might need?
What about cloud-based solutions? To meet the increasing demand of cloud platforms, AVI-SPL offers a cloud-based videoconferencing service called the Virtual Meeting Room (VMR). This service is hosted on AVI-SPL infrastructure, allows the user to leverage existing networking devices, and works across a variety of video endpoints and codecs.
“The new workplace requires and expects these tools,” explains Brandofino after demoing the VMR.
But they don’t need everything. “Our job,” he says, “is to find out what works best in each individual case.”
Think about a car: you need a steering wheel, brakes, and gas. Every car has the basic necessities just as every videoconferencing manufacturer will enable two people to see and speak to one another without being in the same room. But the smaller, more detailed features provided differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, as do the features needed by the customer.