When Hauppauge, NY-based IVCi got its start 11 years ago, videoconferencing was still something of a novelty for end-users. For systems contractors, it was a relatively new technology that was accompanied by its own set of quirks and challenges, which, in many cases, drove integration firms to outsource to those specialized in the field.
This is the basis upon which IVCi was founded, explained Robert Swing, the company's president and co-founder. "We wanted to specialize in videoconferencing at the desktop level and at the room-based level, and be the experts at that," he said. "In the start-up days, many of those AV integrators would rely on us to make their deployment of videoconferencing successful. That was the beginning of us getting into AV integration."
Since its inception, IVCi has remained on the cutting edge of videoconferencing technology. Swing noted that the last decade has seen a number of technological milestones, namely, the implementation of standards. "With any technology, when multiple manufacturers can talk to each other, you are going to have success," he said. "Large Fortune 500 companies have embraced the technology, and the applications have grown from displaying just talking heads to save in travel costs to getting new products to market more quickly. Pretty much any business that is out there today has an application for videoconferencing. In recent years, IP networking has escalated the sale of this equipment."
Regardless of how sophisticated technology is becoming, Swing attributes his company's success to the 90-plus professionals that work from IVCi's headquarters in Hauppauge, as well as locations in New York City, Maryland and California. "It starts with all of the people that we bring into this organization. We look for the best people in this industry," he said. "Training is one of our key differentiators as far as our engineers, technicians and designers. We do everything in-house; we have four Crestron programmers, install crews in all of the locations in which we deploy our equipment, and so on."
Within the first year of employment, IVCi team members are expected to acquire CTS certification, if they don't have it already. In addition to designing and integrating systems into facilities across the U.S. and internationally, IVCi offers "managed conferencing services," explained Charles Macli, the company's senior vice president of sales and marketing. "Some clients want to be able to walk into a room and have a videoconferencing call already up. If they have a problem, someone is monitoring the system for them. They may even have someone on staff that has been provided by ICVi to actually run the system for them," he described. "We have built an expertise in remote management of both videoconferencing and AV environments. We have tools that enable us to monitor the systems for the customer."
Among these tools is internet protocol (IP), which clients are quickly adopting because of its convenience. "The IP network is something that customers are embracing more and more to run their audio," Swing said. "Video and streaming applications are being implemented over company and private networks."
This trend is contributing to a blurring of the line between AV personnel and IT professionals, noted Tim Hennen, vice president of audiovisual integrated services at IVCi. "I think that IT experts are embracing AV technology more and more. They realize that it's a part of their world," he said. "Control systems can be managed over IP, enabling technology personnel to provide better service. As they are managing the desktops and laptops within an organization, now they are also managing the conference rooms, projectors, control systems, and all of the components within an AV system."