Written by Cisilion’s Chief Strategy Officer, Rob Quickenden
I had the pleasure of being invited to Amsterdam for Integrated Systems Europe 2019, the world’s largest exhibition for AV and systems integration. However, one of my key highlights of the trip came before the conference even started.
During the Partner Teams & Team Devices Briefing Session, I was very happy to hear that Microsoft are finally delivering one thing:
An “almost” joined up approach across Microsoft and their key eco system vendors (Polycom, Logitech, Crestron, Yealink) around the future of Surface Hub, Windows Collaboration Displays and Teams Rooms Systems of all shapes and sizes.
Of course, this is very different to the Cisco play, which has taken what Microsoft started to do with Surface Hub (Gen 1) and focused on innovating an all Cisco, no partner Spark (now Webex Teams) Board of various sizes to fit all meeting spaces.
The following day, I made it to Integrated Systems Europe 2019. It was actually the first time I had been and it was immense. Twenty odd halls showcasing giant screens, security, home automation, cinema systems, building control and of course Modern Collaboration / Productivity solutions.
Anyone that is anyone in this space was here – Polycom – check. Logitech – check. Yealink – check. Microsoft, Cisco, Google – check, check, check!
But of all the technology on display, it’s the UC Hall that this blog will focus on.
Inside the UC Hall
Teams – from Microsoft, Cisco and others – was the new kid on the block in the UC Hall.
Every vendor (and eco system partner in the Microsoft space) claims they have “the” answer to improving, streamlining and bringing together how people work better together – who and wherever they are – and it was interesting to see more players than just Microsoft “understanding” that interactive access to the application layer is central for teamwork.
Cisco have recently renamed their “Spark” platform Webex Teams and everyone – not just these two giants – seems to be getting in on the Teams lingo!
“Lower price points – with more components –
increases potential points of failure”
What was also apparent, and in abundance, was that as vendors go head-to-head for the lowest price / highest quality in order to win the meeting room, personal space and huddle room, with almost infinite numbers of peripherals and systems to solve every communication need – the result is an abundance of options, but also a lot of complexity.
Product lifespans, which are as little as 9-18 months, are creating their own challenges – more so than the previous challenge of 5-10 year old legacy kit in meeting rooms, which make it hard for organisation to know what vendor to back (if just one) and of course, what services, support, interoperability and channel/partner expertise is.
Price vs Quality vs Standardisation
Whilst the direction of travel is great – and it needs to be this way to make video-enabling every meeting room/huddle space affordable – and a needed move to make visual collaboration more accessible and ubiquitous, but by nature, lower price point devices (ok…cheaper) with more components – by that I mean, separate cameras, mics, control units etc – increases potential points of failure.
So, we end up in this mix of price vs quality vs standardisation. And if all of us in this space have learned one thing over the last decade or so of working with VC and Room Systems, it is that above flexibility and cost, business want, and users are crying out for, stuff to just work.
If it doesn’t, wasted time will quickly consume any money initially saved in buying cheap(er) solutions.
Wrap Up & Vendor to Watch
Next time, I think I’ll have to extend my stay another day at least – I literally just touched the surface of ISE. It will be interesting to see how this tech looks and what has changed, been phased out and what new vendors appear.
For me – the one to watch in the Meeting Room and Huddle space wasn’t who I thought I’d be talking about. Whilst Polycom had their usual and expected Innovation, some people were lucky enough to get a glimpse at the much-anticipated Surface Hub 2S (which is simply to die for). The vendor that I was most impressed with in this new space was Yealink. The range, quality of build – on first initial use anyway – and expected low price point was phenomenal.
I’m looking forward to getting some sample kit to play with and take to clients to see how this stands up against the competition, but I’m really impressed to see their complete end to end line up, seamless cloud management platform and native Teams Clients from everything from phone to huddle room to exec board room.
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