Vidyo: one gateway to rule them all?

As 1080 Group faithful know, we focus largely on behavioral (rather than technical) analysis, but sometimes something…or someone…comes along that takes a techie thing and tells a story.

Enter Robb Cason and a little backstory. I met Robb in 1999 when I walked to the (very empty) end of the 6th floor office at EnvoyGlobal, a teleconferencing firm, early web conferencing reseller and the first place anywhere to offer independent webinar event services.  I could choose any open desk out of 40. Only two of them were occupied, one was Robb. We later co-founded Corvent (acquired by Intercall).

Anyway, Robb’s now VP of Adoption Services at Vidyo. I recently connected with him and received a demo of Vidyo’s solution. Here are a few thoughts.

User Experience
Vidyo Desktop supports up to 9 cameras (presenters), and up to 300 viewers of those cameras at a time. Using my MacBook Pro from the home office, I had to download and install the Vidyo desktop app. The default view on launching the app is a settings panel. The good news: there’s a lot of flexibility. The bad news: I’m not sure I’d want the first thing an attendee sees being a settings panel.

Given that I was on a home broadband connection (on wireless, no less), the service worked fine in our time together. I did learn one nice thing…Vidyo auto-adjusts video frame rates at the individual user level. With the vagaries of the internet, this is a nice touch…end users don’t usually know (or care) what’s wrong, just that it’s working or not. This is a big improvement over many services that don’t have similar smarts.

Of particular interest to me…but untested in this case…is how the experience would unfold for mobile users (e.g., iPad). There’s a general rush on in the industry to be mobile friendly (as well there should be), but if this is important to your user base, I’d test it. The “RFP checkmark” for many organizations still delivers a lackluster user experience.

Techie Stuff Made Nice
Robb knows how to point out things that drive value in an organization, and that’s one thing we always agreed on…it’s first about “how do I do my job better and deliver value to clients, prospects, shareholders, etc?” To this end, one of the things that Robb’s figured out is that a key decision maker for many organizations isn’t the end user, it’s the IT department. A few things they’ll appreciate might include Vidyo’s approach to having one super-connected gateway. The geeky behind-the-scenes stuff means you can connect Vidyo with other things (e.g., that expensive telepresence suite near the CEO’s office) or other solutions such as Microsoft Lync, IBM Lotus Sametime, Adobe Connect. IT wizards tend to like this stuff because they answer to senior management who doesn’t care how this happens, they just want it to happen.

Bear in mind that I’m well aware that many video conferencing solutions are attempting or have solved this problem. Often, however, this is a response to necessity rather than being a strategic “we’ll play nice with anyone” approach.

The Bottom Line
I don’t get into pricing/packaging in posts like this, but here’s a little speculation based on a dozen years in the conferencing market: Vidyo probably isn’t targeting small and medium business. Note that they may, in fact, have something for the little guy (call them, not me :)), but much of what I saw will appeal to larger organizations who need to deploy quality video conferencing and have it play nice in an enterprise environment. The web/data conferencing was functional, and while I’m not sure it’s going to light anybody’s fire, it’s not their lead story. For many, sharing a desktop (or PowerPoint thereon) is all that’s needed. These things also change quickly, so as always, it’s worth adding Vidyo to your short list if a solid video conferencing experience is a key criteria in what you’re looking for.

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