Just before the summer break, we interviewed Charlie James, Director Sales WW UC Device Partners at Crestron, who followed up on the recent distribution agreement between Crestron and Maverick AV Solutions, designed to promote its range of Unified Communication solutions on a European level. Here are the details of the new partnership and their application in Italy, with notes from Emiliano Faccioli, Crestron’s Regional Sales Manager in Italy.
Connessioni – What is your role at Crestron, and what was your contribution in the agreement with Maverick?
Charlie James – I am responsible for Crestron’s worldwide distribution strategy; the strategy has a general framework, but it is adapted at a regional level with the support of the local teams. We started working on the new distribution in January this year by focusing and recruiting some key distributors. We started in the US and moved onto Europe, where we decided to work with Maverick. My job is to build the local working groups. As far as Italy is concerned, our contact is Emiliano Faccioli who, obviously, understands better than I do the specificity of the market and knows the people, the resellers, the market.
C – How and why did you choose Maverick?
CJ – We were looking for a distributor able to follow the European territory as far as Unified Communication is concerned, and one that was present in all countries. Moreover, Maverick is a key partner of Microsoft, a company we are close to, and part of its strategy of “software based” installations: it was natural that we approached each other. So the general distribution strategy sees Maverick at the forefront, with the support of the Crestron teams in the various territories, which also work on a wider range and are not limited to UC.
C – Crestron doesn’t only propose solutions for UC…
CJ – That’s right: Maverick distributes UC solutions and they are focused on Microsoft Teams, while Crestron is historically a manufacturer of AV solutions for other markets. Going back to the Italian case, for us Emiliano is the reference for Maverick, but he also follows the other product families and professional markets in which Crestron is present, which frequently involves AV. We do see our distribution strategy offering a great opportunity for our AV dealer network.
C – Has Covid influenced your work in particular, and Crestron’s distribution strategies in general?
CJ – Certainly. Today we know that in-person work was and remains important, but we learned that tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Crestron make it possible to work with restrictions as well. We all adapted quickly to this way of working and today we are fluent in the art of online meetings. This means that the technology was ready, and it was probably just a matter of custom. Workers also saw that performance didn’t drop, and they also saved money – all of this made UC part of the everyday, and we all know that the return to face-to-face work will take all of this into account. On the personal side, I too have found that I can do the same work while traveling much less than before, and when we resume travel I already know that it will only be necessary to travel for the really important things.
The Italian point of view
Finally, we heard from Emiliano Faccioli, who explained how the work with Maverick in Italy was set up, and what results are expected from the new collaboration.
Connessioni- How was the European agreement with Maverick “dropped” into the Italian reality?
EF – The IT sector to which the UC solutions are addressed is used to exploit the IT distribution channels, where Maverick is already active and where it was important for us to increase our presence. The traditional channel remains active, so Maverick becomes an additional channel that allows us to reach new customers in IT, but our way of working doesn’t change.
C – How do you carry out your daily work?
EF – The agreement is from July so we are still at the beginning, also considering that August is a less active month; we have however had some meetings, and started to align ourselves to be ready for September.
C – Do you think Maverick’s new channel will be useful in Italy?
EF – Certainly, working with a distributor in the IT sector is an obligatory step: when you talk to this world you realise that language, points of view, needs are different, it is a large market that requires you to adapt to what I would call it’s “habits and customs.” However, Covid has paved the way for video communication solutions in the IT world as well, making them become not just an accessory but a tool for everyday work. The two worlds of IT and AV have come very close, but the last mile is up to us.
C – Apart from the collaboration with Maverick, is it difficult to overcome the “last mile”?
EF – Crestron is a historical player in System Integration, and the process to move to software solutions started years ago, so the ICT language is already familiar to us and we have an advantage. The concepts of scalability and redundancy are familiar to us, but it is not so throughout the AV world; we still have to work to communicate the difference between professional and consumer, the consequent difference in the distribution channel and, obviously, in costs. You can’t make an auditorium out of a soundbar, and it’s useful for an IT manager to learn to be wary of those who say otherwise: our mission is to make them understand that there are AV issues they don’t know about but need to consider.
This post is also available in: Italian