Joel Chimoindes, VP of Maverick AV Solutions, took on the role in May of this year from near 30-year veteran Jon Sidwick. At the time of his appointment, Chimoindes said: “Maverick is a brilliant business, and this is due in large part to the team spirit, collaboration culture and focus on innovation which Jon has instilled throughout the countries.” Having now been, officially, in the post for three months, how does Chimoindes assess his new job?
While he actually started to make the transition into the top job at Maverick a year ago, and spent the last last few months sharing some European responsibilities with John Sidwick, there is no doubt that his predecessor made a lasting impact on the Maverick business.
JC: “It’s a sad, sad shame to see him go. He is Mr Maverick. I’ve said it many times: his personality, his mischievousness and sense of fun flows through the business. What’s quite interesting, when you get a strong culture, it usually comes from the people at the top and flows down through the business. You recruit to that culture. So what actually happens is our business is built up of people with a similar sense of fun and mischievousness: the ‘seek forgiveness rather than ask for permission’ kind of approach. Jon’s legacy will live on in Maverick for a very long time.”
The last formal announcement before Sidwick left Maverick concerned Maverick’s plan to set-up comparative demonstration facilities, for collaboration solutions, across the 18 different facilities that the distributor maintains across Europe, US, Canada and Australia. Work on installing Smart Meeting Experience Centres in eighteen offices with 140 Maverick staff (including Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), Italy, UK, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, US, Canada, Portugal, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Netherlands and Belgium) has understandably been delayed. When complete the network will feature the latest in collaboration and future workplace technology.
The demonstration suites were to be found in each venue will eventually host a series of events, after work networking and manufacturer one-to-ones to give integrators the chance to test products and experience how smart meetings will develop in the future.
Even while this work continues, Chimoindes says that customer interest
in collaborative over the period of lockdown has boomed:
JC: “Our time spent talking to the Channel has been rewarded by enquiries accelerating more in the last 10 weeks than in the previous 5 years. Work on the Smart Meeting Experience Centres definitely isn’t finished: we have reached a reflection point for us. These exceptional times have prompted everyone to focus on the issue of ‘What does the new normal look like?’ Everyone has a strong opinion.”
JC: “We’ve spent a lot of time talking to the channel really deeply and across Europe, including different resellers from different segments. All of our Maverick leaders listened to what the channel is saying. A lot of what came back was opinion based, but if you get enough opinions, you start to draw some facts and some correlations from that.”
JC: “We got some really, really clear things that came out of this. Theme 1 was the obvious one was about collaboration. In term of adoption, awareness, and usage has accelerated more in the last 10 weeks than in the last 5 years. There are some brands, Zoom is an example, where penetration in Europe before Covid, was limited to 3 or 4 countries- now, everyone knows the name. Now, Zoom has become like Hoover in the Vacuum cleaner world.”
Technology and the new normal
JC: “As companies go back to work and they’ve got 25% of their people in the office, they’ve still got 75% of their people they need to communicate with, plus customers and suppliers. There is clearly a big opportunity to make sure they have got the right collaboration solution. What we really see now is the need to link IoT, analytics, smart meetings, smart signage, plus cloud, and security. All of those things need to come together in real life solutions. That’s what our teams have been working hard on, and you will see some work coming out from us on meeting room analytics. That’s going to be really important as people really need to analyse how many colleagues are in their meeting room and do the numbers and conform to the guidelines that have been given? Customers can only do that with IoT and analytics combined with AV.”
JC: “. The same issues apply in corporate communications. How do you move people around buildings now while messaging them effectively? For example, if only 4 people are allowed in the toilet, at any one time, and 20 people in the canteen, how do you message people in the right way? Corporate communications are going to explode in that respect.”
And for those who work outside the organisation but still need to be connected and involved?
JC: “Businesses and end-users that we are talking to in conjunction with resellers, are now building out their meeting room capabilities. Covid-19 has driven user adoption. What we are seeing is the need for end users to be able to provide the capabilities of the meeting room in their own environments. The need is definitely there and the requirement is huge.”
Bring your own meeting
But how will remote workers share these meeting room capabilities?
JC: “This is something we looked at ISE for the first time: most organisations have what we call a ‘joining platform’ and a joining platform is where the platform is already lockdown inside the organisation. They are a Microsoft teams, Google, or Zoom, or whatever, organisation and that’s locked down. What’s typically happened with Covid is, is that in large organisations, thousands of end-users have gone home with one of these and they are now having calls on all these platforms.”
JC: “Whereas the ‘bring your own meeting’ thing was just a new BUZZ thing around ISE. Now as remote workers go back into the meeting room environment, ‘bring your own meeting’ is much more more of a real thing. In fact, it’s a must-have because it’s a much more cost-effective way of providing end-users with a conference on multiple platforms in a secure way. We really think the ‘bring your own meeting’ is going to explode in a huge way. We are already seeing interest.”
So collaboration is booming, but what about other pre-Covid growth categories?
JC: “In two weeks’ time, you will see us launch the digital signage equivalent of our ‘meeting without travel’ solution. The differences we see in the digital signage sector are the dramatic changes in retail. where signage has been so prominent and a great consumer of AV technology. The he retail sector faces such a huge conundrum, which the conflict between the traditional role of digital signage to keep people in the store for as long as possible by giving them the best greatest experience. This includes looking at things, touching things and smelling things to keep them contained in the store and to encourage them to buy. This even extends to the point retailers were doing some brand things with changing rooms for people to have a great experience while they are in that changing room.”
JC: “All of that’s gone, so that’s the conundrum – you need to get people into that store and out again as quickly as you possibly can. The roll of signage in retail changes because your messaging is short, sharp and needs to be played to people to understand that once you get in, you do what you need to do and leave.”
In the corporate world, digital signage has now assumed a new level of importance:
JC: “Where signage becomes really strong is in corporate communications, particularly when combined with IoT analytics around people counting, fever testing, monitoring the inside of meeting rooms and emergency messaging. All of these things mean that in digital signage id a must-have as opposed to a nice-to- have technology.”
JC: “To underline the point, I saw a shared list – as business’s return to work what are the priorities, and where do they need to invest? For the average corporate to get 25 % of people back to work isn’t that difficult. To get to 35% back, the cost starts to become disproportional. To get 60% back to work in the current guidelines the cost is huge.”
JC: “The list of investments employers need to make in is, of course, topped by safety testing. But then, very quickly, you get in to the right signage around the building, and other technologies round the building feature in the top 5 what companies need to be spending their money on. I think that this is a real opportunity for the channel. It’s way beyond just having some digital signage – it has to be smart signage not digital signage.”