High-quality video communication was once the dream of science fiction writers, but advances in technology have made it a reality in both the home and the workplace of today.
One company pushing this evolution in how we communicate is Netherlands-based Visions Connected, a company that started life in the research and development department of KPN, the Dutch national telecommunications company.
Instead of building the hardware itself, Visions Connected founder and CEO, Raymond Alves, decided to provide video conferencing as a service. This meant managing the multiple layers of Internet protocols, the digital rules for data exchange between computers, in order to deliver seamless and secure video communication over the Internet.
According to Alves, Visions Connected’s service differentiates itself from competitors by the firm’s commitment to ease of use, data security, and customer care.
“We build the service ourselves to make sure that it is very secure and put an awful lot of effort into the reliability of our services. We care about the customers enormously and try to make sure that the customer is always ok with what we have,” he says.
Before starting Visions Connected in 2007, Alves was working at KPN where he saw the potential of the video conferencing technology being developed. After KPN passed on his idea to create a new brand for these products, Alves stepped down and decided to do it himself.
The Dutch police force became one of Visions Connected’s first major customers after they tendered a contract for a system to record their interrogations. In 2010, Visions Connected was selected as a partner to deliver this service, which now stretches through all 26 local police forces in the country. The firm received initial funding from a local investor Start Green Venture Capital but is now on the look-out for new investors to fuel its international expansion.
Worldwide, companies spent $2.26 billion in 2013 on videoconferencing equipment and services, according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report. The market is dominated by the U.S. multinational Cisco, which by the end of 2013 held a 44.3% share, but it is also highly competitive as new technology spurs disruptor firms to join the fray.
Last year, Visions Connected recorded revenues of over $10 million, but the leap to a global scale is one of the company’s biggest challenges today. Its geographical focus in the low-lying Netherlands also presents a curious threat for a modern technology company.
“The biggest risk we have is that our servers will be flooded by water. That’s why we have started building different servers in different geographic areas,” explains Alves.
Another danger facing the company is the fast pace of change in both technology and consumer habits. In February of this year, Google released a $999 video conferencing system called the ‘Chromebox for meetings’, while social media application SnapChat recently added a built-in video calling feature. With such a fast changing industry, Alves will have to work hard to anticipate where the market is going and make sure that Visions Connected is growing in the right direction.