Infocomm16 and King Kong
At Infocomm16 this year I fully expected to see what I've always seen: lots of stories about how next year was going to be great, but we were still struggling to gain traction as an industry. I was wrong.
This isn't a full review of Infocomm16, for the best review of the show I've seen go to David Maldow's website, LetsDoVideo.com. It's the best and most comprehensive review of the Video Conferencing space I've seen.
At Infocomm16 something had changed. Suddenly the market is abuzz with new players, and the numbers are beginning to look serious. Wainhouse Research is stating that there are presently 1.5m to 2.0m room-based systems on a global basis. One has to wonder what percentage of those are used on a daily basis. My own guess would be perhaps 30%. Assuming Logitech is correct that the market opportunity for equipping meeting rooms is 50m, then presently under 2% of the market is addressed.
I think it's safe to say that whatever it is we've been doing as an industry for the last 24 years hasn't really worked. That's a bit depressing to admit, but the numbers don't lie. The big question is, are we going to get it right and fill the world with visual communications technology that positively changes people's lives or will we to be sitting here when I'm 71, with 4% of meeting rooms equipped?
The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting a different result
At Infocomm16, Pexip had a storming show, and their NFC dialing using the Logitech ConferenceCam Group was deeply impressive. It proves yet again that a good implementation of a technology is what matters, not that it simply exists.
Starleaf seems to have had a good show, and the white label version, UC Opencloud, an even better one. The ability to to utilise all those endpoints, either orphaned by their original manufacturers or as a solution for manufacturers who don't have their own cloud offering, such as Grandstream, Tely, and Yealink. I think that's a clever move, and one to watch.
Logitech's first year
This was the first year Logitech had a stand at Infocomm and I would imagine they'll be very pleased with the results. They were buzzing the whole show. However, they also appeared to be on a lot of other booths as well. I heard more than one person say they were omnipresent.
In a recent Forbes article it was stated that $89m of Logitech's $1.9Bn revenue came from their high end camera technologies. It's obvious they are becoming an 800lb Gorilla in this industry, and with the huge growth in Huddle Rooms they are going to grow like crazy.
IMCCA panel discussion
I hosted a panel discussion about Huddle Rooms, with representatives from Cisco, Polycom, Revolabs, Kramer, Zoom, and Logitech. It was the best attended panel discussion I've been involved with at Infocomm, having over 170 people in the room. I thought the discussion was interesting and it's certainly where the growth is coming from in this industry. If interested you can listen to the discussion:
King Kong wasn't there but you could smell him
It was interesting to note that the biggest emerging player in the Unified Communications space, and one poised to take a significant portion of the Huddle Room space wasn't even at the show.
The players best able to harness the power of this will be Logitech, to equip the rooms with low cost, high quality solutions, and Pexip, as the independent player best able to bridge the infrastructure gap between the Microsoft world and the rest.
UC Open Cloud, with their ability to effectively connect legacy devices to Skype for Business, would also be in the interesting category. They even had an old legacy system calling directly into Skype for Business. I don't know anyone else who can do that. Think what that means for the tens of thousands of users looking to reutilize this older equipment.
It seems it will be hard to compete against King Kong (Microsoft) moving forward, unless of course you're Godzilla (aka Cisco). As I've written before that Microsoft and Cisco are unique in their ability to change the rules of the game, and the two companies I've spent my career avoiding competing with. Having said that there's always plenty of business for those smaller companies, just so long as they don't get caught in the middle of the King Kong and Godzilla fight. At least as yet no Mothra has emerged. Perhaps that is what the Mitel/Polycom deal will begin to create.
As usual, Cisco had a large booth and tons of traffic, but their improvements looked incremental at best. Cisco has always been masters of the joined up solution, but as it stands they have four competing business units all fighting for the prize internally. Cisco Call Manager, WebEx, the Cisco Video Conferencing team, and Cisco Spark.
From everything Rowan Trolllope has been saying over the last year, it's clear that Cisco Spark is the new shiny object, but many clients have concerns about so much of their private data being in their suppliers' vaults, and there has been little said about how those clients of the other platforms migrate in a nice way. For many, moving to Skype for Business might be no less painful, and certainly it would be something that they might/would/should consider.
There is no doubt Cisco will do well with Spark, and it opens many opportunities for them. But it also becomes a bifurcating decision point for many clients, and inevitably some will decide that their future lies with Microsoft.
As a 25-year sales veteran myself I know it's always a risk when clients are asked to actually make a decision. After all, they sometimes do crazy things like make the ones you weren't expecting.
Finally I can feel the roar of the beasts
It's been a long time coming but I feel that we truly are on the cusp of mass deployment. The Cloud players like Zoom.us, Starleaf UC Open Cloud and Logitech are giving the market what people actually want.
King Kong is presently climbing the Empire State Building, and Godzilla is emerging from the Hudson river. It's going to be mayhem, but it's also going to be exciting, with all these new innovations we might just see video become pervasive before I'm 70.