Global Expansion

The world’s largest AV company, AVI-SPL, has just announced that it is to open an office in the UK in 2013. Chris Fitzsimmons spoke with the UK MD James Shanks and Doug Carnell, VP of operations for AVI-SPL group about the company’s plans.

Exactly what has AVI-SPL announced this January?

AVI-SPL will be opening several international offices, starting in January with our expansion into the UK, with James and a full team. The office in the UK will be a fully functioning office located in Farnborough about half an hour outside of London. It will be full of solution architects, engineers, installation engineers and service technicians. It will have the capability to operate independently as a fully functioning office for both our government and private clients to be able to help them with solutions in making connections and communicating. Furthermore, it will borrow and leverage the experience that AVI-SPL has. That’s our experience in completing thousands of systems a year, our services such as a our fully functioning VNOC, our Unify Me services and even using some of our capabilities. They will get the advantage of our programming resources and so on. But, first and foremost this is an independent UK based office, capable of standing on its own two feet.

What’s the initial impetus for opening the office?

It will be both for servicing existing clients and to develop new business. The whole point of picking some of the best in class in the industry here in the UK and pulling them together as a team resource is so that we’re able to offer ourselves to market, whether that is directly to clients with design and build or with consultants on bid processes directly in the UK, attracting new business and developing new opportunities.
DC: We’re certainly not moving to the UK to support one client specifically. Obviously we’ve been member of various alliances to get work done internationally. We’re still going to be a member of those global alliances but we felt that we have great opportunities moving forward in London and in the UK, that we could best grasp when we had those clients met with a local office as opposed to someone who was purely based in the States. But at the same time we feel that the group that we are assembling will also be able to meet a need that is demanded by UK-based companies also.

Who are your existing UK-based clients?

Typically US-based organisations who have international offices. We’ve been meeting their needs internationally currently just using an alliance partner but on top of that obviously as James alluded to we’re hiring various individuals who have relationships and capabilities of selling to anyone who’s based in the UK.

Why the UK before others?

For me, I think that from our company standpoint the UK, like the USA, has been through a recession and several companies in Europe are struggling to meet their client’s needs either financially or just physically being able to deliver work and keep customers happy. We felt that there was an opportunity given our financial strength and our capabilities, to bring a new breed of integrator to market. One that’s not only focused purely on AV but on bringing our clients video solutions and services that only a company like ours can bring.

What’s the competitive edge that you believe your company will bring to the UK?

I think it’s our being a financially secure company, our ability and our experience of bringing services to market. Size brings available resources. Although we’re not planning on sending installers over from the US to finish jobs in the UK, we will leverage wherever possible our knowledge, our experience, our depth of bench if you will of resources that we can apply to any one project.

There are companies in the UK that offer VNOC, but very few who offer the full compliment of products and services that we can bring to a client, and do it on a daily basis.

JS: Talking about the UK and Europe coming out of the deep financial crisis we’ve experienced, the dynamics within the large clients we’re talking about have changed. Their approach has changed. The platform that we’ve put under the umbrella of unified communications is changing the model of what it means to be an AV systems integrator in the UK.

Being able to put a team together that’s constructed slightly differently will then allow us to reflect that better than some of the attempts that we’ve seen within the UK just to react to clients’ growing and changing requirements. We will proactively bring that to market and with the platform that is AVI-SPL, incorporating the VNOC capabilities that we acquired with Iformata at the start of 2012. Rather than us white papering a service, it’s an integral part of our offering.

Would you say that managed services will be a large part of your offering in the UK market?

Absolutely, it will be part of the foundation upon which we are building. Some of the past attempts to enter the UK market have been built on the perception that we can provide without actually being there. The executive team of AVI-SPL has reviewed that and acknowledged that it’s not an acceptable approach, and that’s why instead of coming into January with myself and two or three others, we will be presenting a team of 20 plus with a broad range of capability and experience, home-bred from within the UK and European market.

What is your outlook for the UK market?

Back in 2003 that audiovisual market place was hit very hard because of the recession. What I’ve experienced this time is that one of the major changes has been the client’s internal requirements. They have come to recognise that investing in HD videoconferencing and collaboration infrastructure allows better collaboration and communication within their businesses.

What it’s meant is that whilst the financial crisis has impacted a wide range of industries and businesses, the audiovisual industry has experienced the benefits of an investment in that infrastructure and an updating in the importance of an endpoint or the provision of a service on site. They recognise that they need to make that investment. They can lay off 16,000 people around the world but it won’t stop them from investing five to ten million dollars to make sure that everyone else left in the business is still able to communication more effectively.

DC: I would say that clients are probably relying on collaboration more due to the recession and due to the problems around the globe, to bring in and leverage their own internal experts and capabilities versus just the local resource. Our purchase of Iformata a year ago was absolutely critical to our view of where the market was heading. Opening an international office is challenging enough, but when that office is armed with the additional resources and capabilities that they couldn't offer from a single office unit, then that's where we view our success as coming from.

JS: This is an awesome opportunity with AVI-SPL coming to Europe and I believe it will be a market changing step for our industry.

AVI-SPL officially launches in the UK during ISE, where it will be exhibiting on stand 12.E78

Article Categories

Most Viewed