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Interview: Disrupting the AV landscape

2015 could be considered the "Year of the Spinoff" - with more than 80 deals, valued at $244.9 billion - a 20-year high, according to Dealogic data, which goes back to 1995. Following this trend is US videoconferencing vendor Lifesize, which recently completed its separation from Logitech. We spoke with CEO Craig Malloy about the current state of the AV landscape and more.

Why do you think the spinoff trend is gaining momentum?

Often, post-spin and freed from a large corporate parent, pent up entrepreneurial forces are unleashed. Likewise, the newfound independence motivates management of the subsidiary to run the business more efficiently. The priorities of being owned by a large operating company are different to the priorities being owned by VC’s. Typically, VC’s are more interested in rapid growth therefore there is more room to be agile and innovative.

How do you see the AV landscape evolving and what must be done to ensure B2B SaaS providers are addressing the needs of the market?

In the past, the go to market for video conferencing solutions has been 100 per cent channel, as it required heavy integration services, etc. As SaaS has gained pace it has driven different expectations for the buyer’s experience, which requires business adjustments for many AV integrators. Whenever there is a shift in product offering, AV integrators can experience an existential crisis, asking what is their value add in a market flooded by downloadable apps and plug-and-play endpoints. The more progressive resellers are beginning to shift away from AV integration services into a more sales and marketing-led engine to buildup a recurring revenue stream. There is now also a chance to have a strategic conversation with the customer. Traditionally, video communication was deployed in a handful of conference rooms at HQ. Now with scalability, cost and a cloud-service delivery model we can enable every person, in every room to be connected.

What are your predictions for the AV landscape in 2016?

The rise of the ‘always-on’ workforce (driven in part by the entrance of more and more millennials into the workforce) means that employees are looking for simple, speedy answers and solutions, regardless of location. Many employees see scope for quick fixes in email or chat, prioritising them as their preferred communication tools. In fact, even video will become a ubiquitous communication form in 2016, as teams recognise that video conferencing is no longer limited to the executive suite in dedicated meeting rooms. They can now be integrated into robust and cost effective cloud collaboration platforms that can be extended to all employees across the enterprise, using any device. And the video experience best matches the way we prefer to communicate.

For operations that span the globe, the vital face time employees depend on will occur more readily over video than in person. Businesses will focus more on streamlining travel, cutting costs and reducing CO2 emissions – all at the same time as making ad-hoc communications more connected. Even HR teams are beginning to see the value of video tools to conduct their interviews, implement training initiatives and better engage their remote workers.

With the web, audio and video conferencing market valued at $7 billion, what do you see as the key drivers of this movement?

One key trend is the consolidation and convergence of platforms into one simple, scalable solution. In today’s connected world, everyone is able to make video calls on their smart phones and laptops. The user experience on those devices is easy, light and hassle-free.

What we see is an increased demand among corporations for those capabilities. The products and services have to come with that consumer-like UX and if they don’t then they are deemed unsatisfactory. And, they need to offer the flexibility to connect in the most efficient ways for the meeting objective – audio, web or video. We are focusing our efforts on addressing this demand and delivering a consumer-like experience but with enterprise-class features, support and security.

How do you see cloud-driven strategies as being beneficial to your partners as well as the enterprise?

The global public cloud infrastructure has changed everything. Multiparty calling ports have gone from being outrageously expensive in an on-premise deployment to unlimited in number in the cloud. This allows Lifesize to offer an incredible value proposition to customers, and to deploy video communications very cost effectively and simply to every person on any device, and in every conference room in their organisation.

As a re-startup, how do you plan to attract and retain top millennial talent?

Key to a highly engaged and productive workforce is to create a motivation strategy that provides a variety of benefits and incentives that have broad appeal across as many unique employee needs and personalities as possible. We can offer a dynamic and fast paced environment that provides individual responsibility and opportunity for growth. And, as a video conferencing company, we understand the impact of a flexible work environment and can meaningfully facilitate the ability to connect with colleagues via video.

Craig Malloy
Craig Malloy started Lifesize in 2003 and served as CEO until 2012. Drawn back by his unceasing passion for the industry and reinventing video technology, he returned to Lifesize in 2014.