Wednesday, 19 November 2008
One on One with Videnda’s Managing Director, Sean Holohan
This interview can be found in The Wainhouse Research Bulletin November 17, 2008
Wainhouse Research’s Richard Norris recently met up with the team from Videnda at the IBEC Telecommunications and Internet Federation Conference in Dublin. Richard took the opportunity to sample the local Guinness and chat with Sean Holohan, MD of Ireland’s largest videoconferencing distributor, Videnda.
WRB: So, Sean, tell me about Videnda. I know your primary focus is videoconferencing but that’s not the only string to your bow?
SH: Videnda was formed at the end of 2002 to distribute video communications solutions – particularly videoconferencing technologies. The name comes from the latin word Videnda - “things to be seen”. We have grown every year since inception with current growth of 33% on our previous year. We are expecting this to continue even in challenging economic times with the addition of new technologies and new customers. Videoconferencing accounts for about 60% of our total business and we are distributors for all the main video conferencing companies. We also distribute leading VoIP and networking technologies. Finally, we have an IP Video Surveillance team representing megapixel surveillance technology from Mobotix in Germany.
WRB: What’s different about Videnda to other videoconferencing distributors and how does this ultimately add value to your reseller’s customers?
SH: We focus completely on communications solutions – be it voice, video, networking or IP surveillance – without display or other technology that is more commoditized. Resellers will add their own equipment bundles and we help them design and support these overall solutions. We have a strong installation and services team so we are very much a ‘hands on’ distributor.
WRB: Over the last 10 years Ireland has been highly successful in attracting HQ’s of major IT companies such as Google and Dell, amongst many others, but who’s using videoconferencing and which vertical markets are growing the fastest?
SH: Ireland as an island nation will always use voice and video communications technology unless people eventually stop wanting to talk to us. ☺ The major IT companies you have mentioned are large video users – but there are others that do not use much video at all. The same is true for sectors such as Government, Financial and Health – some are large users while others are not. Where we have had the most success is getting resellers to work closely with customers and build from a proven pilot to a much larger rollout. A recent example of this is the Irish Revenue Service in conjunction with our reseller Damovo. Any
WRB: We heard at the IBEC/TIF conference that broadband deployment in Ireland has lagged behind the rest of Europe but is now catching up fast. Are you seeing this reflected in the scale of organization utilizing videoconferencing?
SH: Broadband deployment has accelerated over the last couple of years, but there are pockets of the country where it is not economical for the providers so this is currently being looked at by Government. Fulltime teleworking has not really taken off, but there are a large number of people working from home 1 or 2 days every week. There are also some interesting cross-border projects between Ireland and Northern Ireland where businesses and schools link up much more easily with video technology. We are beginning to see SMB’s invest in video technology to communicate more easily to their external partners.
WRB: These are tough economic times and the outlook looks bleak for the coming year. Do you share the pessimism expressed my many of the carriers at the conference or do you think the coming year will be strong for Videnda? If so, why?
SH: We certainly see it as a large opportunity. The technology is there now and people and organizations are looking more than ever to implement it so they can improve communications and grow their businesses while reducing costs at the same time.
WRB: I have heard many references at the conference to the positive initiatives that the Irish Government have taken to helping communications and IT generally. Can you give me some examples that have affected Videnda and how these have helped promote videoconferencing?
SH: Environmental issues are very topical and we have a couple of ministers from the Green party in Government. As a smaller country and with organizations such as the Telecoms Internet Federation it is possible to make suggestions as to possible future direction – though change often is slow. Education is something that Irish Governments have always focused on and they need to continue this investment now more than ever to ensure Ireland continues to develop as a knowledge economy.
WRB: We’ve heard a rumour that there is some new, fandagled gadget called telepresence on the scene. Do you see telepresence gaining any traction in the Irish market?
SH: We heard that rumour also! Cisco has a room in Dublin and Polycom is also deploying one. There are a small number of active Telepresence Room installs being planned but, to date, I am not aware of any Telepresence users. The rooms are at the very high-end so the technology we are focussed on more is High Definition. Solutions can be customized for all applications be it the most advanced room, to smaller meeting rooms to desktop. IP Surveillance technology is also high definition so the security benefits and applications there are huge.
WRB: Apart from minor irritations like the collapse of the global stock markets, what keeps you awake at night?
SH: Not much causes me sleepless nights but it will be an interesting few years ahead! What I like about High Definition video technology is that when the network is in place the technology is available to improve work and remote work environments and allow people and organisations to be more efficient! I am trying to practice what I preach!!