Why IT Service Providers Must Look Beyond All-In-One Video Conferencing Systems
This article was first published on IT Pro (itpro.com) in December 2023.
Videobars might sound convenient, but they aren't suited to all needs
The move to hybrid work as default in businesses across the world has had a dramatic impact on the video conferencing market. The global market climbed to $8.1 billion in 2021 – just as COVID-19’s grip on society began to wane – and this is expected to surge to $19.2 billion by 2028, according to BlueWeave Consulting research published in 2023.
There’s a very simple explanation for this boom: Many teams no longer meet regularly in person and in some cases not at all. Even if most attendants are office-based, at least one is likely to dial in remotely. Similarly, face-to-face client meetings are increasingly being replaced with virtual ones to save time and cost of travel. All this has generated demand for video conferencing and audio-visual (AV) systems for workplace meeting rooms, which has, in turn, led all kinds of tech brands to launch a slew of collaboration products and peripherals to work with the leading UC platforms from Microsoft, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, etc.
No single company dominates the market. There are a variety of technologies on offer, ranging from all-in-one videobars and speakerphones from established IT brands that are more suited to smaller spaces, to bespoke, professional systems from experts in audio and video that can be tailored to any kind of environment. Options at both ends of the spectrum certainly have their place, but it’s often the case that IT service providers, inadvertently, recommend products that are not wholly suited to clients’ particular needs.
Why all-in-one systems aren’t all-purpose solutions
Although IT channel partners aim to meet the hardware and software requirements of their clients, the key factors considered when selecting video conferencing solutions often boil down to price, ease of setup, and the reassurance that comes with purchasing from well-known IT brands. More often than not, these criteria result in the proposal of an all-in-one videobar.
But these devices rarely deliver the best possible audio quality and may prove limiting when used in rooms that exceed the realistic performance of such all-in-one systems. In the hybrid work era, almost everyone will have experienced meetings with irritating and distracting audio that sounds like it's coming out of a tin can, or people’s voices being so faint that they may as well not be there. This is because the typical videobar is not designed nor intended for use in larger rooms, but is still being installed in such spaces.
Consequently, organizations often end up needing to invest in costly upgrades down the line once they realize that their cheap and cheerful conferencing system doesn’t meet the needs and expectations of everyday users. Such performance issues and additional financial burden ultimately also affect satisfaction with the sourcing partner, i.e., their IT service provider. The channel should be well wary of the potentially serious impact on account relationships and future revenues as businesses may begin to look elsewhere for more appropriate products and services.
Capitalizing on the AV market opportunity
Driven by the increased reliance on cloud computing services, the video conferencing market is booming and there’s a real opportunity for the IT channel to step into the void and begin offering more advanced AV solutions. Channel partners have long been there to help their customers navigate complex and emerging markets, and video conferencing is no different. But this means exploring all the options on the table, not just those provided by the biggest names in the IT industry.
IT resellers may reap serious rewards by plugging gaps in the portfolio of solutions they can offer customers – particularly for those large collaboration spaces in which all-in-one systems don’t quite cut it. Opting to take on more powerful and sophisticated systems from an audio specialist to augment the unified communications (UC) offering will go a long way to giving clients the best available option depending on their specific needs and budgets.
This is where vendors like Shure can step in to provide IT service providers and their clients a full range of certified audio solutions that deliver a high-quality conferencing experience from the start, in every size and kind of meeting space.
Professional audio solutions that are suited to every need
Shure is an industry leader with almost 100 years of expertise in acoustics, wireless systems, networked audio systems, and digital signal processing. Its Microflex Ecosystem of conferencing audio solutions efficiently addresses the need for high quality, ease of use, and scalability in modern collaboration systems. IT teams benefit from a familiar, networked set-up process and certified, smooth integration with the leading UC platforms, while day-to-day users will quickly notice a significant uplift in meeting experience and productivity.
The ecosystem comprises solutions to deliver an end-to-end audio system, all from a single, category-leading brand, and all designed to work together seamlessly. This includes a variety of microphone options that can be placed on a table, walls, or ceiling; advanced hardware and software digital signal processors to ensure natural-sounding, noise-free conversations; powerful loudspeakers and flexible interfaces to complete the setup.
Through technology partnerships with IT industry giants, the Shure Microflex Ecosystem solutions are certified for Microsoft Teams Rooms, Zoom Rooms, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex. They can also be easily integrated with video and UC systems from the likes of Cisco, Logitech, Poly and others to augment the performance of these systems in larger spaces.
As many clients are reviewing their workplace strategies, flexibility is also paramount. Shure’s audio solutions can be configured in so many different ways and can scale up or down in size depending on the size of the meeting room or the context in which they are used. For customers who want the fullest freedom to customize their collaboration spaces and future-proof their investments, the Microflex Ecosystem presents a comprehensive platform that can be tailored room-by-room to deliver the best results.
To learn more about Shure's solutions for IT Service Provider, or to start a conversation, get in touch here.