The rule of thumb in the channel is that value (profitability) decreases as technology becomes less complex and generally more available. However, Jenne – a niche distributor based in Ohio – sees it differently. It’s eyeing the reduction of complexity, declining prices and quality improvements as drivers of video conferencing adoption.
In a recent conversation with Channelnomics, Jenne CEO Dave Johnson talked about how more affordable and easier-to-deploy video conferencing technology is drawing greater interest from small businesses. And this, he believes, will lead to a boon in the video conferencing channel.
Video conferencing is one of the “technologies of the future.” Analysts and vendors have predicted strong growth in the future – and that future hasn’t yet come. Johnson isn’t so skeptical, though, as he and his resellers see increasing interest among smaller businesses looking to increase their productivity and lower their travel and operating expenses through video conferencing and unified communications.
While other video conferencing vendors such as Cisco and Vu Technologies have reported increasing interest and demand for their products, Jenne is seeing something different: an increasing demand for video conferencing and support from resellers of audio/visual products and telephony agents.
Jenne’s ability to draw attention from telephony agents comes as no surprise, as its roots are in the telephony channel. However, video conferencing is a technology outside the realm of the average telephony agent and A/V reseller. Johnson says customer demand and the need to diversify is driving these non-traditional video channels to adopt more IT-based solutions in their portfolios.
“Resellers are seeing demand and worry that someone else will sell it if they don’t,” Johnson tells Channelnomics.
As a result, Jenne is investing in services and programs that aid small and midsized solution providers in the video conferencing market. The distributor is giving its partners both service support to help them transition into video conferencing and the ability to outsource service work to Jenne technicians.
Where Johnson is already seeing success is with LifeSize, the high-definition video conferencing company competing with Cisco and Polycom. The value proposition purported by LifeSize is high-quality video conferencing at less expense, with the ease of making a phone call. Indeed, LifeSize has been scoring attention since launching new cloud-based services and acquiring Mirial, an Italian software company developing mobile video conferencing apps.
These are interesting times for the video conferencing market. LifeSize’s parent company, Logitech, is pressing into video conferencing by building platforms and peripherals that support the offerings of companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and Polycom. Vu Technologies, a sister company to Zenith InfoTech, is reporting increased success in midmarket and small business segments. And HP recently shed its video conferencing unit to Polycom, which immediately struck alliances with Microsoft, Juniper and HP to drive video adoption.
Perhaps Jenne’s Johnson is on the precipice of the new driver that will tip video conferencing to accelerated adoption. And that driver is the people selling telephony services and projectors bringing a new, tangential offering to their customers and smaller businesses demanding more support from their non-IT resellers.
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Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at [email protected].
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