The “Easiest Sale”

Ensuring Success with Collaboration Technologies
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Ensuring Success with Collaboration Technologies

This blog series was sponsored by Sony Corporation. 

It’s not too often that either an end user or an integrator talks about an “easy sale.” 

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Collaboration technologies have been a hot topic during the past few years, and there’s a plethora of solutions available. We’ve all heard the stories of meeting rooms and classroom technologies going unused because they weren’t easy to use or intuitive. One perceived problem by the user is the kiss of death for the technology investment. There it will sit until the building gets remodeled. This isn’t good for your client or for the reputation of a technology consultant or integration firm.

Sea Change

At InfoComm 2017, Sony introduced the Vision Exchange active learning classroom solution. They also provided training for sellers who would be carrying the solution. Jerry Allaire, account manager at Matrix Video Communications’ Winnipeg branch, attended the training. “Once active learning was explained to me,” he says, “it’s a pretty basic understanding; it’s a new way of doing some teaching rather than your standard lecture theater.” The simplicity of the Vision Exchange product and execution helped solidify the active learning concept. “Learning the system was very simple, given that there’s one box, and it has the ability to move images from one display to another. The main feature is to be able to bring an image from any of the pods—any of the small working groups—up to the main screen so that the whole class can see it and discuss it.”

Not that a sale is ever easy, but Robert Legal, supervisor, Learning Technology Solutions, Infrastructure Development, Technology Services at the University of Manitoba (UM) called Matrix Video’s Allaire when he sought the right ALC solution for their renovation of the Albert D. Cohen Management Library.

“He had looked into a couple of other solutions, so he knew the different components that were required. When I told him that Sony had one, he was very interested in learning about it,” says Allaire. Legal attended InfoComm 2017 and viewed an operational demo of Vision Exchange. “Shortly after that is when I got the purchase order,” says Allaire.

Sales Tips Q&A

Q: Which end user is Vision Exchange targeted towards?

A: Vision Exchange is a collaboration tool that has been designed for higher education active learning environments and corporate customers. 

Q: Can it be sold to corporate customers?
Yes, but it’s important to understand that it was designed with educators in mind. Some corporations have training facilities where this technology may fit. The main unit will fit into a conference room or a boardroom to serve as:

· A powerful switcher to accommodate both physical HDMI sources and mirrored BYOD sources

· A collaboration tool (annotation, whiteboard, and sticky notes)

· A tool for traditional video conferencing or Skype for Business (V1.1 or later).

The Pod PC can be useful in a huddle space for collaboration with Skype for Business capability. The streaming option could be used to record corporate meetings. 

Q: What about other education levels? High schools? Private schools?
Demonstrations for these institutions have resulted in very positive reactions to the product. Typically, the issue at high schools is funding. In some cases, schools still share projectors. Private schools can be a different story if they have the enrollment base and the funding. There has been more than just passing interest at these institutions.

Q: Who is the best person to approach at a university or college?

A: The AV department, learning spaces manager, faculty and dean, media services, center of education, procurement team, IT department, and library services. 

Q: What’s the best way to start the conversation?

A: Start the discussion around AV solutions and mention that you’d like to discuss technology for an active learning solution that has been designed for education. It’s a collaborative teaching tool that would engage the students in learning, transform how they learn, and help them to retain more.

NOTE: “Active learning” is the key phrase!

Q: OK, now that we have their interest, what comes next?
Contact your Sony account manager to arrange for them to be on-site with you with a Vision Exchange Kit to provide a full demonstration of the product to the customer.

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This is the second in a six-part blog series in which I will focus in on the bleeding edge of active learning in higher ed today. Read my first post here: Do Your Homework! A Cheat Sheet to the ABCs of Active Learning.


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The Gatekeepers

In the professional AV industry, from ISE to InfoComm, systems integrators get a lot of fanfare. Rightfully so.