Aiming for success at "the last inch" of the business communications connection.
Last week at Interop New York there was a session on "Moving Video from Hardware to Software." Vendor participants included the usual suspects: Cisco, Polycom, Magor Communications (Terry Matthews' visual communications company), and Logitech. You might think Logitech makes sense as they purchased LifeSize in 2009. But the speaker in that session, Eric Kintz, VP and GM of Logitech for Business, was not there to talk about LifeSize. While I wasn't in New York for the session, I did talk to Kintz (over video, naturally) about what Logitech for Business is all about.
My first question was when did Logitech become a business-to-business company? One generally thinks of them as a business to consumer play, selling keyboards and mice. Kintz explained that two years ago the company decided there was already a significant amount of Logitech product being sold for business use and to proactively play in the enterprise space. The company has had a lot of success selling iPad covers and keyboards and is now attempting a broader unified communications play.
According to Kintz, UC succeeds or fails at the user level. All the IT investment in the world won't matter if the user doesn't have the right experience. Kintz calls it the "last inch" of the UC experience. With the UC market in mind, Logitech began developing products meant exclusively for business channels. The first of these is the ConferenceCam, a unit that combines high-definition video with a full-duplex speakerphone. Logitech sent me a unit to test and in Skype, Lync and Google Hangout calls it has provided a great experience.
In order to become the audio and video accessory vendor of choice for UC, Kintz explains that Logitech believes they need to have deep partnerships with the UC platform vendors. This enables them to know future product directions so that they can build hooks into the solutions. Kintz says toward that end, Logitech is working closely with Microsoft and Cisco--"We think they are the two big players."
Asked about other major UC players, specifically Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and Siemens Enterprise Communications, Kintz reiterated, "We are trying to develop deep relationships with Microsoft and Cisco. We'll be compatible with the others." That means buttons on devices like the ConferenceCam that interact directly with Microsoft Lync or Cisco Jabber but won't on other UC solutions.
Speaking of deep partnerships, Kintz says watch for some big announcements from Logitech over the next six months, presumably as Microsoft Lync 2013 goes GA.