INTERNET TELEPHONY recently caught up with a trio of folks at Revolabs who work with the channel. That includes Rob Claus, director of global channel sales; Denise Iverson, director of UX and product marketing; and Randall Lee (News - Alert), director of strategic and channel marketing.
Tell us about the Revolabs Flx UC family of products.
Lee: Revolabs designed a family of conference phones focused on delivering crystal clear audio for all meeting participants, both in audio capture and playback. The base unit provides loud, clear sound and superior pickup with four integrated microphones and advanced signal processing to clear up all artifacts for great sound in the most challenging rooms. The three models allow communication over USB and/or VoIP channels for rooms of different sizes, and can bridge calls easily between VoIP and USB. Many collaboration service providers such as Zoom, StarLeaf, and Vidyo now recommend FLX UC phones to their customers for a great audio experience during online meetings.
Revolabs brings its products to market by working with the big UC players, as well as other channel partners such as systems integrators and value-added resellers. Which big UC players wrap Revolabs products into their larger solutions?
Iverson: Our UC phones are currently fully tested and compatible with more than a dozen of the leading UC solutions, including Zoom, Vidyo, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Jabber, Google (News - Alert), and Lync/Skype for Business. Many of these providers list us as recommended products for their solutions. Furthermore, many of our channel partners recommend our products as part of a full UC solution and will create bundles of their own that include our products.
Who are Revolabs' SI and VAR partners?
Claus: Revolabs has a worldwide network of Professional AV Integrators. All are offered the opportunity to participate in the Revolabs CORE Program. This is an award-winning partner program that provides the integrators an opportunity to earn specific benefits based on product knowledge, training, and revenue growth. Revolabs has worked extensively with the leading direct market resellers to develop Revolabs UC product offerings. This channel consists of CDW (News - Alert), SHI, PCM, PC Connection, and others.
What does the term pro install mean, and how does that fit into what Revolabs is doing?
Lee: Pro install means professional installation and refers to conference room collaboration equipment that requires professional services to install, set up, and commission. These types of rooms usually have multiple wireless or wired mics connected through a DSP/mixer with powered speakers, usually including a camera and display and possibly a whiteboard device, and hooked to a service appliance or directly to the network for transmission of voice and data. Revolabs provides wireless and wired microphones for this market, and has since our founding over 10 years ago.
You mentioned that audio is often an afterthought in UC and video room implementations. How are you working with your channel partners to change that?
Claus: Revolabs is constantly communicating with our partner channel through webinars, onsite training sessions, event attendance, and other proactive means to continually drive home the message of audio. We have had great success with our demonstration program that allows our channel partners a very quick and easy way of getting Revolabs to the customer site. As the channel partners and their customers experience the rich quality of Revolabs products we go from an afterthought to a forethought.
Increasingly, IT teams are taking over responsibility for videoconferencing rooms. Why and since when?
Lee: IT generally takes charge of equipment and services and endpoints that transmit data over the company networks. With the advent and increasing adoption of VoIP and the general move away from dedicated collaboration services and appliances for conference rooms to platforms that use the internet for local and cloud services, IT offices have been given or assumed responsibility for implementing tools for all collaboration spaces, from the office to large meeting environments. You can look back and see the same theme of AV/IT convergence being discussed at least 10 to 12 years ago though it seems to have accelerated in the last 3 to 4 years.
What does the convergence of IT and A/V at businesses mean for Revolabs and its channel partners?
Claus: I think that audio has always been an extremely important part of videoconferencing, but even now more than ever. There are more people using videoconferencing in many more places around the globe. We work with our channel partners to have our products demonstrated to the customer as much as possible. We offer a simple product demo program and highly discounted products to our channel partners to be used for demonstrations only.
We've been hearing a lot about huddle rooms lately. How are the requirements for huddle rooms different than those for traditional videoconference rooms?
Iverson: Definitions of huddle rooms vary, but for the most part they are recognized to be small spaces for groups of no more than four to five people to gather as needed. These rooms are typically not part of a scheduling system, and people come and go from them on an ad hoc basis. Aside from seating for the meeting participants, these rooms rarely have space for any additional furniture, and space for conferencing equipment is quite limited. Because of the way these rooms are used, the physical size of the space, and the growing number of these types of rooms appearing in today’s workplace, companies often don’t justify budgets to equip them on par with what they spend for traditional videoconference rooms. As result, some of these rooms may not have any dedicated communications technology available.
Sometimes a speakerphone is available for traditional audio conferencing. Quite frequently we find employees bring their computers to the room and use the desktop version of the company’s UC solution to participate in an audio or videoconference. Occasionally companies deploy dedicated videoconferencing solutions in these rooms. When they do, we often find a similar model – the video solution is a dedicated PC running the same UC solution employees use at their desktop. With the popularity of huddle rooms, many UC providers are partnering with hardware vendors to bundle complete solutions (cameras, conference phones, etc.) that are ideal for these rooms at a reasonable cost.
How do those differences impact the way you design, and you and your partners market and sell, such solutions?
Iverson: Anyone who has tried to use PC microphones and speakers to participate in a videoconference has experienced how difficult it is to hear and be heard. Take that experience into a conference room, add a few more people to the meeting, and you quickly discover the PC audio capabilities are completely inadequate. Without effective audio a meeting is, at best, frustrating. At worst, the meeting just can’t happen. All of our FLX UC conference phones deliver a great audio experience when using computer-based UC clients. Our phones are designed to produce crisp, intelligible sound while eliminating distractions such as background noise and echoes. The technology in our products unlocks the ultra-wideband capabilities of today’s leading UC solutions, which supports the full spectrum of frequencies found in human speech. Combine all of that with our ability to process multiple people speaking at the same time, and the result is the ability to carry on a very natural, realistic conversation. We have fantastic technology partnerships with UC providers because our conference phones bring out the best in their solutions. In addition, many of our channel partners are bundling our products as part of a full UC solution because they, too, want their customers to be delighted with their UC deployments.
Furthermore, several of our FLX UC phones also have integrated SIP technology and work in all major telephony environments. This means a single phone can be used for both USB and VoIP conferencing, allowing companies to make the best use of limited space in huddle rooms. Companies also realize the cost benefits of purchasing and supporting only a single device in the room. Employees don’t have to learn multiple devices and know when to use which one. And because it’s not uncommon to need to bring together people who join a meeting using the UC solution and others who need to join by phone, our phones will bridge a USB and VoIP call into a single conference.
Revolabs continues to expand its distribution across the world. Tell us about some of the distribution partners you've added recently, why you chose them, and what they mean for your larger strategy.
Claus: We have recently added Stampede Products in Canada and extended our current ScanSource (News - Alert) relationship to include LATAM, Mexico, and South America. Our goal in distribution is to have the proper coverage per region that can provide Revolabs products to our resellers.
What does Revolabs look for in a channel partner?
Claus: We look for distributors that have high integrity in the markets they cover and will add value to our solutions.
What are the key challenges channel partners face today, and how does Revolabs help them address those challenges?
Claus: The key challenges for channel partners today are product differentiation and profitability. Channel partners seek products that separate them for their competition while offering a solid solution for their customers. Revolabs is the only manufacturer that provides the channel a full product line of audio solutions, from wireless microphone solutions to UC conference phones. Through various means, Revolabs CORE Program offers incentive programs that drive bottom-line profits. We have Rebate Program, Deal Registration, and Educational Discount programs.
What kind of support and incentives does Revolabs provide channel partners?
Lee: We provide pre-sales support to ensure our products fit the environment and application, technical training for the partners' installers, sales training for the sales team, access to marketing development funds, volume incentive rebates for CORE partners, and a strong customer service team for support during installations and post-install questions among other benefits
Tell us about Revolabs' partner portal. What will your partners find there?
Lee: They will find sales tools, promotions and details, price sheets, training videos, marketing assets like photos and graphics and MDF documents, a schedule of upcoming channel-specific webinars, technical notes and how-to guides, and more.
What does Revolabs offer its partners in terms of training and support?
Claus: [In addition to] an extensive partner portal we have an inside sales organization and fully staffed technical support team, a field sales and field systems engineering organization, all available for easy access to our channel partners.
Edited by Alicia Young