Disruptive Forces: The Leaders Speak — Tom-Erik Lia, Videxio

This is the fourth blog in the series Disruptive Forces: The Leaders Speak.

Profile: Tom-Erik Lia is the CEO of Videxio, which he co-founded in 2011.

tomerik-1014Tom-Erik’s backstory: As a former vice president of research and development at TANDBERG (now Cisco), Tom-Erik Lia has 20 years of experience managing, creating and building video collaboration product portfolios, including working on product and technology strategy and acquisitions. Over the past decade he has also published several international patents within the industry.

Tom-Erik has a passion for the possibilities provided by cloud services and believes that video conferencing as a service will have a decisive impact on the way we work and interact in the future.

I would like to thank Videxio CEO Tom-Erik Lia for participating in this next series on Disruptive Forces in AV/IT.

CM: Tom-Erik, thank you very much for your participation. Please tell us about your personal journey with Videxio.

TEL: After almost 20 years with Tandberg/Cisco being responsible for developing the best video conferencing product line in the world, it was clear to me that the next step in enabling high quality video communications to the masses would be driven from the Cloud.

In 2011, together with Michel Sagen and Thomas Berger, we founded Videxio. It was our collective view that we wanted to build a global, reliable and scalable business quality videoconferencing service and to do that we needed to focus on three things. First we needed to stand-up a best-of-class distributed data center architecture and global QOS network. Second was to simplify the user experience across videoconferencing platforms and the third was to build a partner-brandable, robust, partner tool set that would allow them to build and manage the Videxio platform as their VCaaS offering. That’s what we have been focused on over the course of the last 3 ½ years. The first two years we were developing our European, Australian and the Middle East channels and markets. In 2013 we expanded into the North American market and just last month we announced that we have are moving into China. We have come a long way and we still have lots of things that we want to accomplish but we are having fun every day!

CM: Can you give us your perspective on the current state of AV/IT convergence?

videxio-1014TEL: Everyone is talking about the cloud these days, and looking at statistics from the various analysts and feedback from our customers, its clear that they want more flexibility in the way you consume services and that companies no longer want to be responsible for building and become their own video service provider. I am also seeing it being more acceptable for enterprises to run services over the internet and this will benefit the video industry as well. Over the last five years, I have seen an explosion of various solutions and technology development from major players in the industry like Microsoft, Google [and] Cisco, as well as a lot of new players. This is a great validation of our industry. At the same time it creates a new dimension of complexity as these players do not work together to create a unified solution, but this is where I see the role of the service provider like Videxio.

The industry has been talking about the convergence of IT and AV for more than 10 years. The challenge is that AV and IT see the world through different sets of eyes and bring different skill sets and expertise to address customer requirements. I think that VCaaS provides a very unique opportunity to our AV and IT reselling partners in that we take away the technology and complexity of enabling an organization with business quality videoconferencing…we sort of level the playing field. What the end-user customer cares about is that the service is running, that it is easy to use and flexible enough to scale when they need it to. This is where I see our industry in a few years. We can open up new business opportunities to these parties where they can leverage their unique value-add to address the customer’s business issues and objectives. As the VCaaS market is projected to be a $1B by 2018, there is a material business opportunity for these players.

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

TEL: As I mentioned, the VCaaS market is growing at 40-50 percent annually and is expected to pass through $1B in 2018. This is a huge growth opportunity with healthy margins for the partner community. In the backdrop videoconferencing infrastructure sales have leveled off and the market is highly competitive with tight margins. Videoconferencing system sales, in terms of units are growing and projected to grow at a faster pace of the next couple of years. Sprinkle that with some 1.2 billion devices that are capable of running browser based video and the numbers speak for themselves. Videxio provides one important part of our Partners strategy where we can offer them a turnkey, brandable platform where they can get into this market immediately and focus on delivering new services to their customers.  So in short we solve the technical challenges that the partner would have in trying to build and deploy a global service themselves.

CM: With the escalating usage of mobile devices as well as BYOD programs in the enterprise, how do you see your application(s) fitting within that structure?

TEL: BYOD is one of the major driving forces of change, and one major reason why our customers are moving to the cloud. You cannot deploy mobile devices in the same way as you have traditionally done within video conferencing industry. Deploying dedicated devices are easy. You know where they are, you can plan licenses on your border controller, you can do bandwidth management, and you can allow yourself to spend hours to deploy a unit. Well, now imagine that you want to deploy 1,000 mobile devices that need to be enabled anywhere on any network any time. It cannot be done in the traditional way. Still, the major benefit for those dedicated videoconferencing systems our customers have invested in is interoperability with all of the widely distributed personal users on all of these different devices. So to me its obvious that these devices need to be deployed in the same way that you would deploy any personal service – and that is from the cloud: fully automated, redundant and available anywhere, flexible to buy and deploy as well as easy to manage from a centralized IT department.

CM: Any last words for your partners as well as the rest of the industry?

TEL: These are exciting and confusing times in our market. Interoperability between standards-based videoconferencing and MS Lync, WebRTC and a shift from transaction based hardware sales to a growing market for VCaaS, subscription services and monthly billing. Managing through this transformation requires planning, possible realignment and training of an organizations’ sales resources and of course alignment of their compensation plans. Our mission is to help our partners embrace this change and become enabled to drive profitable service sales growth as they add new subscribing customers to their portfolio and then work to help those customers grow usage and adoption.

Part V coming in two weeks.