UC Insights 2018: Investing in Timeless Technology: Insights from Lifesize
Lifesize shares their view of the UC future
For more than a decade, Lifesize has been at the cutting edge of the video collaboration world, delivering high-quality technology that’s both simple to use and effective. Their aim is to connect people to make the workplace great by delivering exceptional video conferencing technology that makes visual meetings a more realistic opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
As part of our strategic insights series for 2018, we spoke to the Chief Product and Operations Officer for Lifesize, Michael Helmbrecht, and asked him to share his views on how the company has evolved over the years, and how it might continue to transform as we move into the year ahead.
What Big Changes Have Been Significant to Lifesize So Far?
The first thing I wanted to ask Michael, was whether Lifesize has moved through any strategic changes over the years that they now consider to be significant to their evolution as a business. Michael told me that the biggest shift was the decision to emerge as a Software as a Service (SaaS) company offering smart devices.
“We’re taking an IoT approach to our huddle-room and call-room systems, and integrating them deeply with our cloud-based services to ensure that we can create a more consistent experience for customers, regardless of whether they’re connecting on their desktop, laptop, mobile, or anything else.”
“The idea is to tie the collaboration space together in a way that’s simple and easy to adopt. In 2014, we decided to launch in this direction because we saw where SaaS was going, where our customers were going, and where our potential could take us. We knew we had IP advantages around quality video and audio, and we knew we could bring connected devices into the conference room.”
Lifesize believed that they could give their customers a better experience than what was currently available on the market, so they changed what they were doing to make everything in the video world easier to use.
“We brought that service to market, shuttering old parts of our business and eventually buying ourselves back from the company that acquired us to become independent again. Now we’ve been our own brand for two years, with more than 110 per cent increase in the Lifesize customer base since last year and continued growth every quarter.”
How Does Lifesize Empower Customers?
Lifesize has been on a strategic journey of digital transformation to get to where they are today. Their portfolio is beautifully simple and easy to understand, and that’s part of what makes the brand so compelling. Michael told me that he thinks that there are three key aspects to what Lifesize offers.
“The first aspect is the service layer itself – all the services and infrastructure that make things simple for our customers. The service layer is very important, and it’s easy to forget that a lot of organisations are still sitting in small spaces trying to make immersive calls. I think our service layer makes what we offer very high-quality, and it allows us to extend to the other two legs – including our portfolio of smart devices in everything from huddle rooms to conference rooms to auditoriums.”
One of the elements that makes Lifesize unique, is the fact that they deliver the same experience to customers regardless of whether you’re in a large lecture space, or small huddle room. “We take a very IT-centric approach to deployment so that we can create a more consistent experience across all types of spaces. We believe that customers should be able to scale with confidence, making simplicity and peace of mind a constant part of the journey.”
“Whether you’re using our devices, a third party or you’re joining from our apps, you can access the same capabilities. That’s why so many people buy our products – because it’s easy to integrate and the experience is the same no matter what.”
What Challenges and Opportunities Do You Predict for 2018?
As companies look ahead into the possibilities of 2018, many organisations in the UC space are beginning to explore new ideas all the way from IoT to AI. One common idea is that the year ahead might be the time when video conferencing really starts to find its mark in the communication world. I asked Michael what he could foresee for the future.
“I think we’re only just beginning. It’s easy to get fixated on the latest claims from your competitors, and what people say they can do, but the truth is that everyone needs to focus on what they do well while remembering that we’re still in the early days of adoption. Companies of all sizes are adopting at an accelerating rate, but there is so much more opportunity yet to come as more and more organisations invest. This is a huge opportunity for us to address the barriers of ease of use and deployment to bring companies into the future.”
Lifesize is trying to focus on both ease of use for the user, and ease of use for the IT organisations that need to tie everything together to make new technology more accessible. “We try to address both sides of the coins through the strategies and tools that we provide because we take a wider view of what adoption looks like. Once the hype cycle ends, what makes something successful is how easy it is to adopt, and how satisfied customers are. We design an integrated collaboration solution at Lifesize that works for any organisation, any user, and any meeting space.”
How Does Lifesize Feel About Integration?
Before our conversation ended, I was interested to hear Michael’s opinion on the pervading idea that no single vendor can offer a comprehensive solution to customers in today’s rapidly-growing marketplace. We’ve seen countless companies coming together and consolidating to make their portfolios more competitive, and I wanted to know how Lifesize would adapt to this new trend.
“We formally integrate with lots of solutions already like Skype for Business, Lync, Slack, Hipchat, and soon Microsoft Teams. We also interoperate with every video conferencing system to come out in the last 10 years – provided it is standards-based. We go out of our way to make sure that we’re interoperating with other solutions at the highest quality level we can – unlike many of our competitors.”
For Lifesize, interoperability is a huge part of the puzzle, and all the devices that they bring into the meeting rooms are already fully SIP compliant, meaning that in addition to being used for video, they can also be paired with voice solutions from RingCentral, ShoreTel, Avaya, Cisco, and countless others leveraging the speakerphone that is bundled into their conference room systems. However, Michael suggested that there are emerging standards to consider in interoperability too.
“While UC interoperability is very important, and we’ll be continuing to invest in that area, there are other changes in the marketplace that need to be considered too. For instance, we’re investing in SIP and WebRTC, natively doing real-time communications on browsers like Chrome and IE without the need for a plugin.”
“This is becoming a new standard at a rapid pace in today’s environment, and we’re looking at it to ensure our customers aren’t locked in. With Lifesize, people have the assurance of knowing that we are an enduring investment they can believe in.”