Page 2 of 2
Though its history goes back decades, the current AVI-SPL formed in 2008, when Tampa-based Audio Visual Innovations Inc. (AVI) and Menlo Park, Calif.-based Signal Perfection Ltd. (SPL) merged. The combined company is majority-owned by investor giant Silver Lake, and has been relatively quiet on the acquisition front since the 2008 merger. But in January, AVI-SPL acquired Dayton, Ohio-based Iformata Communications, a move that dramatically expanded AVI-SPL's managed services footprint.
The deal gained AVI-SPL both Iformata's Video Network Operations Center (VNOC) and its VNOC Symphony management platform. It kept on Iformata's existing reseller partners, which in the U.S. include AT&T and InterCall, and were already AVI-SPL partners, too.
"Any kind of development strategy is time, money and uncertainty," Zettel explained. "We felt like we could eliminate time and a lot of unknown money and uncertainty by going with Iformata."
Zettel and his team aren't ruling out future acquisitions -- they get a lot of "buy me" inquiries, Zettel said -- but plan to stay deliberate about their targets.
"We are looking at smaller integrators just to bolster our geographic footprint, or if there is a vertical need," Zettel said "But we are not going to acquire for the sake of acquiring."
AVI-SPL's overall growth strategy spans not only the Symphony platform, but also its own Unify ME hosted managed services platform for video and telepresence, and several other important ventures. It's forged ahead, for example, on offerings like its Cameleon Telepresence, a fully integrated unified video communications suite that ties in everything from HD video conferencing to multimedia presentation display and includes both dedicated controllers and control software applications for devices like Apple's iPad.
Its reach also extends to digital signage and digital media -- AVI-SPL's digital media services group is growing at a 300 percent-a-year clip, according to John Vitale, vice president of products -- and also to adjacent areas addressing design and media architecture. AVI-SPL's Control Room Group, for example, designs audio/visual control rooms and systems for high-intensity, mission-critical control center environments, and its Creative Show Services unit does major events, from conferences to stage shows, including planning and rich media content.
AVI-SPL's executives are ideally situated to pick out emerging vendors in the A/V space, and Zettel and Brandofino said two vendors the channel should definitely watch are Blue Jeans Network and Huawei.
Blue Jeans is the three-year-old, much-buzzed-about cloud video startup that has been adding major solution provider partners left and right since debuting its Any(Ware) video conferencing service in June 2011. The Blue Jeans platform is a cloud-based video meeting room from which users can host, schedule and manage their own video conferences via a Web interface, but the hook is that Blue Jeans can bridge any number of different video and audio protocols, meaning a user of, say, Cisco TelePresence could easily conference with a user of Skype, or a user calling into the conference bridge using the PSTN.
Like most of Blue Jeans' integrator partners, AVI-SPL offers Blue Jeans as a managed service.
"I could have had my guys develop an interface for bridging Skype to other video [platforms], but why? They already have it," Brandofino said of Blue Jeans. "We have customers who have five endpoints and want to use Skype -- why am I going to throw that customer away? We have something for them."
Chinese telecom giant Huawei is another vendor to keep an eye on, Brandofino and Zettel agreed. Huawei has continued to fine-tune its global enterprise push and last fall formalized a U.S. channel partner program for indirect sales of its routers, switches and telepresence products.
"They've been knocking on our door for the last year and half," Brandofino said. "I've been reluctant, to tell you the truth, but they are getting enough mindshare for customers that we think they're going to be disruptive from a price perspective. We are figuring out how that plays into what we do. If we are taking the position of where we make money is services, and that endpoints are a commodity, than the price coming down is very significant."