I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone who has been talking about possibly bringing me on to do sales for his company. He has been talking for a while about a recurring revenue based solution sales position and then goes on to call it a “cloud salesman.” Then I think to myself really, you want a salesman to sell cloud? Just how does that look on a business card to the end user as in yes sir, I sell cloud. Cloud what? Cloud collaboration, cloud signage, cloud control, cloud infinitum…
How do you sell “cloud?” There is still much confusion in the audio visual industry and why so many heads of companies run for cover when you mention the word (I witnessed it myself in a lunch meeting with an integration company CEO here in DC). For an industry still so ingrained in hardware sales, where there’s still talk about the box that helps you to “collaborate” (whatever that truly means in this day and age), we then move to discussion of the cloud where there is an inherent mindset that the IT industry has in terms of presenting solutions to the customer. It could be a single sell, let’s say for cloud storage, or multiple cloud-based applications. Either way there is a strategy that is set in place aligned of course with that client’s IT-based infrastructure which could include cloud solutions. The client can determine these needs, or the integrator as in any given AV install situation can specify them – either way it takes into account a greater overall technology integration picture.
Cloud as we know refers to cloud computing, a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications. If you’ve heard the term many times and don’t know the definition yet, here it is. Cloud is in essence used as a metaphor for the Internet, so cloud computing is simply a type of Internet-based computing, where different services — such as servers, storage and applications —are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the Internet.
According to Gartner, by 2020 a Corporate “No-Cloud” Policy Will Be as Rare as a “No-Internet” Policy Is Today * and that the extreme of having nothing cloud-based will largely disappear. A statement is made that by 2019, more than 30 percent of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only.
“More leading-edge IT capabilities will be available only in the cloud, forcing reluctant organizations closer to cloud adoption. While some applications and data will remain locked in older technologies, more new solutions will be cloud-based, thus further increasing demand for integration infrastructure,” said Yefim V. Natis, vice president and Gartner Fellow.
Back to the IT mindset. I have discussed time and again the concept of AV as a subset of IT with known educators and thought leaders in the industry (and there are those at the top who have spoken those very words as well) and each time we draw the same conclusion – the time to get on board with it is now, not a year from now. If you want to continue to install the standard meeting room and even focus on huddle spaces, so be it there is absolutely still a market for it, albeit a lower-margin one but yes, still a market. If you’re still making very good money doing it while dealing with facilities or the tech manager, probably no real need to read on. However, if you want to talk to the CIO, the CTO and even the CEO there is only one conclusion to draw now, and that’s the need for an IT-based mindset to go with the AV, whether you sell cloud, software or hardware. That’s right – even hardware.
Take videoconferencing for example. Trying to sell these applications from an AV-sense in terms of them just being “cloud videoconferencing” is not enough, and in fact could elicit a “you’ve always sold me videoconferencing hardware, why should I look at this?” response from the customer. You may want to personally try certain applications that can be downloaded on a trial. I use Zoom for all of my video conferences (I own a user license) however I have tried others – Videxio, Collaboration Squared Ubiety, Blue Jeans, Vidyo (all cloud) and Pexip (virtualized software) just to name a few. Interoperability discussion is of course always key when presenting any of these applications.
Blue Jeans cloud videoconferencing
Now take a look at digital signage. SignageLive presents a digital signage SaaS cloud-based solution where their statement is We provide the software, servers and support; you provide the message. You sign in to the application from a web-browser to upload, schedule and deploy your digital media.
SignageLive case study – GameStop (deployed by Cedemo)
The cloud/video/communication, digital signage and more discussions at this point need to be built out to the customer, including a potential look into their present IT infrastructure to see which cloud-based or even virtualized software solutions they may be using. Hybrid cloud deployment continues to be a more strategic method for enterprise IT implementation and certain applications can be deployed in this manner as well (for example here with Pexip Infinity). And If none of the above exists, it could open a whole new discussion for them.
In that, you may indeed be ready to invest in the future of this industry as certain manufacturers that I talk to continue to deploy cloud and software-based solutions and over the next few years, don’t be surprised to find more of these solutions continuing to replace the hardware displayed at the major trade shows. An IT-based type show (which includes cloud and software solutions) for the AV market? An interesting concept for sure.
Sure you’ll have projectors, projection screens, displays and “collaboration boxes,” however what end user doesn’t know what a projector, screen and box of most any sort can do? Why does anyone want to compete with Amazon, CDW, B&H Photo and the other box sellers anymore? There are certainly other hardware solutions to make money on that Amazon and the rest aren’t continuously pushing off the shelves at low margin. CDW in fact is doing well in the cloud solutions department, so they’ve certainly built beyond the box. Here’s a statement on the website:
Sixty percent of IT decision-makers say that cloud computing has given their teams more time to focus on strategy and innovation. **
Maybe that statement is enough to determine that there is great advantage to a certain cloud-based focus to sales in the industry. Cloud salesman? Maybe not, howveer a sales person focused to cloud and software sales? That’s a strategy you certainly can’t go wrong with in this continuously expanding IT-based world. It may not be for everyone, however it is for those who want to advance to the next levels of technology integration.
Next – continued discussion on software.
**Source: “Predictions for 2014: Private Cloud Management & Infrastructure.” Forrester, Jan. 24, 2014