The nation is hearing that the worst is over and the economy has begun to pick itself up and dust itself off. It may be some time before those effects are felt by all who were knocked flat in the past year, but a look around our industry reveals that the stabilization began with companies who adjusted their business and faced the catastrophe head-on.
Following the success of its second annual Smart Communications Summit at its headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas July 22-23, SKC Communications was reporting that its business model of selling expertise rather than merely hardware was paying off. "We'll end up growing double-digit this year, which may be the exception rather than the rule in the industry," observed Tray Vedock, president and CEO of SKC.
Business has been picking up in many of the vertical markets SKC serves. "I think everyone is waking back up," Vedock noted. Outlining his company’s experience from the fall of 2008 to the present, he explained, "For us, enterprise projects in Q4 and Q1 just went dormant, because those companies were dealing with issues beyond updating conference rooms. What happened in Q2 was, we had a record quarter, because a lot of these projects got pent up, and then they all released."
Watching the numbers climb back up, SKC sees much potential in the healthcare sector, according to Vedock: "Medical is as strong as it's ever been right now. There seems to be an abundance of money out there, and we're doing a lot of telemedicine applications."
SKC's Smart Communications Summit drew an impressive roster of 300 attendees representing education, medical, architects, and corporate enterprise who in addition to learning more about the technology implemented by the company were also treated to a panelist discussion that compares to those held at the largest AV industry trade shows. On stage were Lorie Buckingham, CIO of Avaya; Bob Hagerty, CEO of Polycom; Ken Kannappan, CEO of Plantronics; Randy Klein, EVP and COO for Crestron Electronics; Rick Snyder, president of Tandberg North America; and Rashid Skaf, president and CEO of AMX.
In addition to the information-packed open house and technology showcase, the star-studded discussion panel by itself, said SKC marketing director Melea McRae, "was nine months in the making, and it paid off."
"The gist of that summit was to bring in manufacturers to share their take on unified communications, and then show the value of our company, which is about bringing the disparate elements, voice, and video, and data, all together to make our clients more productive," Vedock elaborated.
"That's definitely what sets us apart," McRae said. "There are not a lot of companies out there that can play in all the lines that we do."
The concept of Unified Communications (UC) can be described from angles as diverse as remote desktop and headset applications, control and automation, and conferencing. But from the client's perspective, the focus is on saving money and increasing productivity. "Now the two elements are hard cost savings and soft cost savings," Vedock explained. "In a lot of our work, the weight seems to be heavier on the hard cost savings now than it ever was before, because that's where clients are going to save money immediately."
Cutting costs on travel, hotel rooms, and even paper with the virtualization of meetings is what attracts the attention of clients across the board. That's true in any economy, and as things pick back up, Vedock's outlook is good: "Right now, when we're out talking to clients, I'm probably more confident now than I have been since October of last year. Things are getting back to normal, maybe not super quick, but we're seeing budgets being released and people spending money."