Barco’s Overture Dilemma

 

Update: Just two days following the publication of this blog, Barco announced exactly what I suggested — they’ve integrated Overture into ClickShare! It will be shown at InfoComm. Click here to read more about the announcement.

At least year’s ISE show in Amsterdam, Barco officially launched itself into a (potentially) competitive fight with the likes of Crestron, AMX, Extron, Kramer and Utelogy. How? Well, they launched a pre-packaged network-based AND browser-based control system they are calling Overture.

But, Overture didn’t appear out thin air. In fact, Barco telegraphed its entry into the control system market when they purchased Medialon back in 2016. Originally aimed at live events, Medialon’s system was starting to catch on in the educational space with a room-based system and Barco, no doubt, saw the synergy between that and its highly-successful ClickShare product line. So Barco bought Medialon.

So, what is Overture and how does it work? Watch this:

So, how’s Overture doing so far? Not well.

In fact, not only has it not caught on in the commercial AV world yet, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any facility-wide adopters anywhere. The AV integrator channel has, so far, rejected it as not robust enough to compete with the likes of the big-three control system companies and not as progressed as the software-centric Utelogy platform.

So, is Overture a dud?

Nope. Overture’s problem isn’t hardware or software. It’s Barco. As successful as Barco’s been at selling the hardware-based ClickShare in staggering numbers (they announced over 300,000 systems since its launch only six years ago), they’ve been equally unsuccessful at marketing the software-based Overture control platform to that same market.

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Yes, the same market.

The same AV buyers and users who were frustrated at how complicated it was to integrate BYOD (bring your own device) products like iPhones and tablets into the meeting room back in 2013 and lauded the ClickShare for its simplicity are saying they are frustrated with custom-based control platforms like those from Crestron and AMX. So, even though Barco has a built-in market for simplified, pre-configured control options, they can’t sell it.

But, there’s a simple solution to the Overture problem: Integrate it into ClickShare.

If Barco integrated the Overture control platform into ClickShare, the company would see traction. And, they’d have the potential of some 300,000 instant-adopters — or, at the very least, a built-in sales channel of ClickShare users.

So Barco, what are you waiting for?

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..

  • It very well might be the case, that traditional AV companies are simply unable to sell software based products? Or is it the AV sales channel unable to do so? Barco is hardly alone with this. Biamp’s Oreno for example has silently been pulled off the market. Maybe its the PC based concept, no matter being it on prem or in the cloud, which shys away AV guys.
    The end user seems to be ready for such products but the channel not so much (yet).

    • Mark Coxon

      Harald,
      Speaking as an industry observer, I do believe AV as an industry is challenged when selling soft services and software. We are making progress in that area, but we still have some way to go. In speaking with end users at several events, I agree that the markets we serve are ready for these solutions, now the providers just need to jump on the next wave. I’m very optimistic though that we’ll get there together.

  • I recall when Overture made its way into the AV world I for one was excited, it gave us an option. And who doesn’t like to have options? However, I remember the consensus opinion of some of my past colleagues being they’ll never do good in this space, this isn’t their space, etc..And I have former colleagues that didn’t give it an opportunity simply because the standards is Crestron, AMX, Extron…it’s the well it’s what we’ve always done mentality. So I think they suffered a little bit from trying to break into a market that was dominated by people not willing to stop selling what was making them a profit.

    I think companies maybe need to re-think how they sell their gear, traditionally it goes manufacturer > reseller/integrator > End-User. What I mean is the ones that are looking for an easier solution is usually the end-user, not the integrator/reseller. So why would they sell something that may not net them bigger profits initially anyway –again comes to long term views on profit,but that’s business driven, can’t control that right now. I think they need to hold more end-user seminars, trainings, market directly to the end-user; attract the users make them want it, and the end-users will in turn request it from the reseller/integrator, forcing their hands. If your clients are asking for it you will begin selling it or at the very least, offering clients the option. But if the users only ask for an alternative to Crestron, you will go w/ AMX or Extron. Not necessarily Uteology, Veolocity, Kramer or Overture.

    At the core of every product/feature failure, is lack of education/understanding, whether at the manufacturer level, reseller or end-user. Nobody wants to use something that they don’t know anything about; if it is obscure to them it is automatically deemed unusable or unreliable. “If it were good, wouldn’t everyone know about it?” that is literally what someone told me not too long ago, when I brought up Omnistream as an AVoIP solution. People want easy, Crestron, AMX and Extron are easy, because integrators know what to do w/ it.

    I don’t agree about bundling it with Clickshare, Clickshare is a great standalone product and anytime I hear bundling a product w/ a tried and true product, it brings back flashbacks to mid-late 90s Microsoft. You will force people to abandon Clickshare because they may not want that bundle and they may not understand that it is an option without it. Bundling anything is always a slippery slope that needs to be approached delicately.

  • I recall when Overture made its way into the AV world I for one was excited, it gave us an option. And who doesn’t like to have options? However, I remember the consensus opinion of some of my past colleagues being they’ll never do good in this space, this isn’t their space, etc..And I have former colleagues that didn’t give it an opportunity simply because the standards is Crestron, AMX, Extron… it was “it’s what we’ve always done” mentality. So I think they(Barco) suffered a little bit from trying to break into a market that was dominated by people not willing to stop selling what was making them a profit.

    I think companies maybe need to re-think how they sell their gear, traditionally it goes manufacturer > reseller/integrator > End-User. What I mean is the ones that are looking for an easier solution is usually the end-user, not the integrator/reseller. So why would they sell something that may not net them bigger profits initially anyway –again comes to long term views on profit,but that’s business driven, can’t control that right now. I think they need to hold more end-user seminars, trainings, market directly to the end-user; attract the users make them want it, and the end-users will in turn request it from the reseller/integrator, forcing their hands. If your clients are asking for it you will begin selling it or at the very least, offering clients the option. But if the users only ask for an alternative to Crestron, you will go w/ AMX or Extron. Not necessarily Uteology, Veolocity, Kramer or Overture.

    At the core of every product/feature failure, is lack of education/understanding, whether at the manufacturer level, reseller or end-user. Nobody wants to use something that they don’t know anything about; if it is obscure to them it is automatically deemed unusable or unreliable. “If it were good, wouldn’t everyone know about it?” that is literally what someone told me not too long ago, when I brought up Omnistream as an AVoIP solution. People want easy, Crestron, AMX and Extron are easy, because integrators know what to do w/ it.

    I don’t agree about bundling it with Clickshare, Clickshare is a great standalone product and anytime I hear bundling a product w/ a tried and true product, it brings back flashbacks to mid-late 90s Microsoft. You will force people to abandon Clickshare because they may not want that bundle and they may not understand that it is an option without it. Bundling anything is always a slippery slope that needs to be approached delicately.

  • Carsten Steinecker

    …there’s a simple solution to the Overture problem: Integrate it into
    ClickShare.

  • Tyler Bonner

    I totally agree with Gabe. Having worked with Barco in the control room space now for over 15 years, and having sold Barco’s TransformN product over traditional control, hundreds of times, I can absolutely substantiate what Gabe points out. The General AV Market is slow to adopt software as they 1)Don’t know how to sell it 2)Don’t know how to support it and 3)Struggle with the financial impact of software vs. hardware on their businesses. It is truly transformational and for those who can make the leap, their customers will benefit and in the long run, and the integrator will benefit. Being able to survive that longer run is what will differentiate the best from the rest.

  • Richard McMullen

    Make Hay while the sun shines boys. This space is about to become very crowded and fragmentation of the market is coming sooner than expected. As the software environment and ecology evolves the scope and rate of adoption will grow quite rapidly I believe. The incumbents have fomented the distribution chains for years stating that their way is the only way for device control, and what we have now is a paradigm shift away from traditional parallel systems, and with that comes lots of uncertainty and doubt in those channels that have done the same thing for years. I totally agree with Tyler Bonner’s statement “The General AV Market is slow to adopt software as they 1)Don’t know how to sell it 2)Don’t know how to support it and 3)Struggle with the financial impact of software vs. hardware on their businesses.” It’s like those SALY boys, “Same As Last Year”, low risk, low margin.

    I work for a small independant data viz company and we have developed and released our own HTML 5/CSS/ based IoT controller already. We’ve integrated voice control also, and is currently deployed in a live environment managing an experience centre. Sure it does not have the feature set to compare against Uteology or ACA Projects, but it won’t be long before other developers jump on the wagon and start spitting out bespoke controllers also, it is not that difficult. The largest hurdle I have seen is the translation of the user experience into code, and that’s something I doubt will ever change regardless of the backend infrastructure.