Dr. S. Ann Earon, president of 35-year-old consulting practice Telemanagement Resources International (TRI) and the “Godmother of Conferencing and Collaboration” is set to keynote the SCN Think Tank and AV/IT Summit on Sept. 27 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ.
AVN: What is your current position and how did your background prepare you for your role?
Dr. S. Ann Earon: I am the president of TRI, a management consulting firm I founded in 1982. When I started working for the telephone companies—New England Telephone and AT&T—in sales, I was given the portable conference telephone as the product I needed to know from the time it was engineered to the time it was sold and installed; this was AT&T's first commercial offering in the conferencing space. Later, I was asked to be part of the introduction of Picturephone Meeting Service, AT&T's first offering in videoconferencing. Both of these roles helped prepare me for my current role. I am known as the “godmother of the conferencing and collaboration industry,” not the grandmother! I started with the technologies before there was a recognized industry, and was very involved when the industry started in 1982 with the first commercial offering of videoconferencing, which only the federal government, aerospace industry, and telephone companies could afford.
AVN: How did you get involved with the IMCCA?
AE: The non-profit IMCCA was founded in 1998 when 14 founding vendors felt it was important to put up money to have a non-profit association; I am the founding chairperson. Carol Zelkin, who had recently sold Optel, was asked to be the paid executive director. I was asked to be the chairperson because [they told me] "You know everyone in the industry, are an impartial third party, and have a big mouth." I held that role for seven years; after that, I told the board of directors we needed to start rotating chairpersons or the association would only be known as the Ann and Carol show. I currently serve on the executive committee of IMCCA and am responsible for all programming at our shows.
Why? Earon is the “Godmother of Conferencing and Collaboration,” and will give attendees the inside scoop on the state of UCC.
AVN: What is the greatest challenge you see in the world of UCC today?
AE: The greatest challenge in the world of UCC today is the same challenge we have had with all technologies and nomenclature: We have to be sure users understand the value of each technology, when to use each type of technology, and how the technologies positively impact their organizations. Pushing technology is not the answer—the answer is to make each technology a necessity in the minds of users, not just a nicety.
AVN: What advances did you see at InfoComm that can help move UCC forward?
AE: The primary advance I saw at InfoComm was that vendors are now focusing on users—manufacturers are starting to get the importance of the user experience and are emphasizing how their offerings meet user needs. Each year InfoComm, vendors introduce new technologies, which helps propel the industry forward; but, to me, the importance is finally recognizing the need to demonstrate the benefits and applications of these technologies, not just the features.