The Videoconferencing Game is Changing
As one of the key themes of InfoComm 2012 (and of our industry, too, for that matter), the education session titled “Why Interoperability is a Game Changer for Video” should have been standing-room only. In fact, there were maybe 20 to 25 attendees in the session, which was surprising given the compelling title. These days, AV pros need to be attentive to any number of potential game-changers and disruptive technologies.
Krish Ramakrishnan, Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Jeans Network, ran the session. His company has created a cloud-based system that can help bridge disparate videoconferencing systems — something that may qualify as a game changer in the videoconferencing space.
During the Q&A part of the session, a most interesting dynamic took place. Judging by the questions asked and the stated affiliations of the askers, it was clear that at least half in attendance represented end-user organizations — higher education, a law firm, government. There were also some AV systems integrators in the room, and the most telling question came from one of them: “How do we in the AV channel ‘change the game?’” It was a relevant question and a timely one too. More than that, to me it symbolizes an underlying issue in the pro AV world; an issue that we don’t like to talk about in public.
Over the last several years, more end-user tech managers have been attending InfoComm and its sessions. In many cases, these people are the customers of the AV systems integrators. It’s true that an informed customer is a good customer, but if you’re the AV systems integrator, it depends on who is doing the informing (and thus establishing themselves as the credible solution provider). In this case, it seemed clear that Ramakrishnan’s message was targeted not at the AV systems integrator, but the tech managers in the audience. I think the question was driven by the fact that it wasn’t clear what the role of AV systems integrators could possibly be with something like a cloud-based videoconferencing offering. I got the feeling that the end-user attendees were becoming genuinely excited by the message presented, but that the AV integrators in the room were a little… unsettled.
It’s true that something like Blue Jeans potentially represents a real solution to one of thebiggest problems in conferencing – the interoperability of different devices and platforms. I do believe that the Blue Jeans offering could be a bona fide game changer, but it may not be a game the traditional AV integrator is invited to play.