New launch – Scott Hix

Scott Hix, CEO of Avocor, introduces the latest incarnation of the WCD range, recently certified by Microsoft for use with the Teams collaboration platform and Azure. He explains the rationale in favour of abandoning the first generation of the Skype compatible WCD if favour of the second-generation Teams and Azure certified models.

“By taking what used to be a video conferencing system on the table, and combining it with our solution, and then tie it off to a cloud-based set of content. That for us what was exciting as it was going to be the next one, what I call the next potential billion-dollar market”, said Scott Hix, CEO of Avocor.

“About four years ago, we saw a great opportunity in the collaboration category. Given our brand positioning and product positioning we saw the potential of taking a standard LCD, adding touch technology and then adding computers, optics for camera and audio. By taking what used to be a video conferencing system on the table, and combining it with our solution, and then tie it off to a cloud-based set of content. That for us what was exciting as it was going to be the next one, what I call the next potential billion-dollar market”, said Scott Hix.

Hix continued: “Given all of the huddle rooms, which is kind of the new way in which we’re setting up facilities, especially post Covid. And speaking of Covid, it has definitely created some benefit to our interactive display category and that is the adoption and understanding of Unified Communication. It’s almost as if in six to 12 months, we’ll go through a learning curve that would have normally probably taken three to four years. And what I mean by that is I have four children from ages 20, down to age 12. And on a daily basis now, which they never would have done before March 1, but on a daily level, they’re utilising Microsoft Teams or Zoom, or a Google meetup.”

“They’re literally doing video collaboration and now interacting, whether it be with their sports teams, their friends, their youth groups, or their classrooms. While my kids are heading back to college or my youngest, who has to now do everything online for the next 90 days in the US, and we had to set up a virtual classroom for her and her friends in our house.”

And what of the business community and the whole WFH trend? “The Unified Communication category is really taking a huge leap forward in the next 12 to 18 months. A couple of interesting phenomena happened as this market became so obvious to the big companies. We began to get phone calls from some of the biggest tech companies globally like Intel, Logitech, and Lenovo. All of them saying how do we partner closer with you guys, because you’ve got the delivery mechanism for this UC space with your display technology? And one of those companies that showed up two years ago actually, right about this time two years ago, was Microsoft. And it wasn’t the Team’s group at the time – it was the Microsoft Surface group, saying ‘we’ve been working on Office 365 and Skype is becoming more usable within our system’, we would like to work with a couple display companies to optimise a product, certify it for Microsoft to be compatible to what they call the LID (Large Information Display) programme.”

The spec for Teams

So, the WCD was well on its way, until Teams was introduced and changed the game and the development of the display solution. “The initial plan, two years ago, was to build what became Windows Collaborate Display products. The only two companies were, of course, ourselves and Sharp. But a major thing happened to us 12 months ago. While we were developing that first-generation product, the WCD, we found out that Microsoft was going to discontinue Skype. And really the thrust of Microsoft’s marketing energy and software development was the integration of all their software under the Microsoft Teams environment. So, they started talking to us about a second spec they wanted to create that was more robust, but it would also be more difficult to do.”

How did Avocor respond? “We made a conscious decision to go ahead and bypass our first specification, or generation, and we invested engineering dollars accordingly. The Sharp product is Skype certified, but the exciting part for us is we are only the first to offer Teams certification but we’re the only product out there with Teams certification.”

And furthermore, “Our product has Microsoft Azure certification and, within the customer ecosystem, and that pretty much eliminates all the friction points for both purchasing, security concerns compatibility and it really gives us an unbelievable position from a product capability perspective and potential for working within the Microsoft System. Going forward with this will become a real advantage for us as a player in market with this new product.”

Continued next month

Next month we look in detail at the second generation Avocor WCD and the combined capabilities of Microsoft Teams and Azure.

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