Large-format interactive conferencing displays are gaining momentum as a product category with offerings such as the Microsoft Surface Hub and Cisco Spark Board. Now, a startup in the category, Avocor, is looking to make its mark with a highly configurable solution and the help of a channel heavyweight.
This week, Avocor announced World Wide Technology as its first major IT solution provider partnership. WWT, No. 8 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, is a Gold Certified Partner of both Cisco and Microsoft and already sells the Cisco Spark Board and Microsoft Surface Hub.
However, some customers have been requesting a solution with additional functionality and features, said Brandon Echele, global practice lead for video and conferencing at St. Louis-based WWT. Avocor's collaboration display solutions are well-suited to serving those needs, Echele said.
Avocor's displays offer versatility because they run a full version of Windows 10 and are capable of working with any major unified communications or video conferencing software, according to Avocor and WWT executives. The displays are also built to work with any external hardware such as microphones and cameras, the executives told CRN.
Avocor's solutions can serve as the "Swiss Army knife of the meeting room," said Dana Corey, vice president of sales at Avocor, which is based in the U.K. and has its U.S. headquarters in Wilsonville, Oregon.
"There's never going to be a standard [in collaboration displays], where you're focusing on a single vendor and getting rid of the others," WWT's Echele told CRN. Avocor offers a "vendor agnostic" approach, he said, which resonates with customers that aren't a perfect fit for solutions such as the Surface Hub, Spark Board and Prysm video wall.
WWT saw a need for a product that was focused on the Windows ecosystem, but was flexible enough to work with any existing platforms that enterprises are using, Echele said.
"We weren't necessarily going out looking for someone else to take on, but Avocor was compelling enough based on customer feedback," he said.
Avocor offers its collaboration displays in three sizes – 65-inch, 75-inch and 84-inch – in either HD or 4K resolutions. Pricing ranges between $5,000 and $13,000 for a unit, and there is no annual maintenance fee, though customers have the option of licensing Avocor's Quicklaunch meetings software.
Echele said he's been impressed by the design and technology innovation of the Avocor products, which feature small bezels around the display as well as excellent touch responsiveness.
Underpinning the flexible approach of Avocor's solutions is their integration with Intel's Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), which allows users to easily get the latest computing technologies (CPUs, RAM, etc.) by plugging a new PC into the OPS slot. That means that the display won't go out of date even as it ages, executives from Avocor and WWT said.
The displays can also run Windows 7 or Windows 8 in addition to Windows 10, according to Corey.
Avocor, founded in 2015, does all of its sales through partners, Corey said. However, up until the WWT partnership, the company had only partnered with audio-visual industry firms.
While the focus, for now, is on getting the most out of the partnership with WWT, Avocor is open to working with additional channel partners, Corey said. The company offers a three-tier partner program – platinum, gold and silver – with different annual commitments and discounts for each tier, he said. Corey's experience in working with the channel included his previous post, as vice president of global strategic partnership sales at Prysm.
Overall, Avocor aims to enable partners to "say yes" to the collaboration needs of all variety of customers, Corey said.
"We know the world of workplace collaboration is transforming, and we don't know what it's going to be [in the future]. You want to protect yourself, whether you're the end client or partner," he said. "We want to let the partner and the client decide what 'the best' is because we know it's changing."