We are kicking off our blog series about our Core Team with an interview with our owner and president, Chris Harmon. The series will continue with an interview with each member of our Core Team and how they have helped others with video communication and collaboration.
- 24 years in the Audio/Video Industry
- Founder and President of i2i Technologies
- Chris is a native Texan born in Dallas.
What was your career path to i2i Technologies?
I graduated from LeTourneau University in 1994 with a computer science engineering degree. After graduation, I moved to Dallas, working for Electrospace Corporation as a hardware/software integration engineer. Taking this job meant hours in a computer lab working to solve challenging problems. I loved it. Troubleshooting technology is one of my favorite hobbies. The most exciting part for me was working with very low frequency (VLF) and low frequency (LF) communications for submarines for NATO countries. I worked on many types of technologies from the board level communications, to Motorola processors, to C++ programming, to controlling the entire communication system. Yes, I am a computer geek!
How did you get started with video communication & collaboration?
In 1995, I began working for Willis Chun at Northern Telecom in the product line management team for the Visit Video product. I conducted their beta trials for new product releases. During this time, I had my first experiences with video conferencing. Video conferencing was the perfect technology for me. I could use my technical skills to problem-solve networks and connect to others. Connecting and talking with others through video conferencing was an exciting innovation. I am an extrovert and being able to visit with others through this technology was amazing! I oversaw an interoperability test lab for all video conferencing and video streaming applications that ran through Nortel Network’s routers and switches. It literally did take a team of engineers behind the scenes to make video conferencing work at that time. I was one of those engineers.
I discovered my passion for sales several years later. I genuinely love connecting with others and helping them solve whatever challenges they may be facing. My bottom line is always how to provide my customers with the greatest value for their investment in any solution that I am working with them on. I transformed a territory at Wire One from zero sales into a $1.5 million territory in one year.
In May of 2003, my wife, Misty, and I started i2i Technologies. I wanted to create a company with a positive working environment for my employees. Our main core value is to serve our customers with integrity. The focus is never the technology. It is always how to help our customers meet the needs of their organization in a simple, flexible, and dependable way. I have worked with many of our customers for over 15 years. They are like family to me.
Describe a unique situation where you used video communication & collaboration.
It is definitely a challenge for me to select one specific situation. I have been in this industry over 20 years and have seen some amazing ways video communication is used to bring people together. You know, I am a small town guy at heart and have a passion for bringing advanced, quality instruction to our rural schools. In the small town where I grew up, I did not have access to advanced math classes and I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I struggled in college because I did not have an adequate foundation in math.
At i2i Technologies, I have worked with many colleges to provide dual credit/AP courses for high school students. That might not sound big and splashy or even very unique, but it is one the most satisfying applications of video conferencing to me. Did you know that students who graduate from high school with any college credits are six times more likely to earn a college degree? I am a “numbers guy” and that statistic is a big deal.
The other area that is also close to my heart is helping rural communities that face a shortage of major resources, such as healthcare professionals. I have worked with groups that offer rural workers a way to attend school to earn additional certificates and degrees to both advance their careers and to also remain in their community. I love helping keep our rural communities strong and vibrant.
From your perspective, how has the industry changed over time, where do you see it going, and why does that matter?
The biggest change in our industry has been the shift from high end, extremely expensive, room-based hardware solutions to cost-effective, flexible solutions available on a variety of devices. Coinciding with the emergence of software, or cloud-based, solutions is how so many products and services that used to be unique are now commoditized. If you look at almost any collaboration solution, it now has some form of video communication built into it. The big, bulky hardware systems have been replaced by smartphones and other mobile devices.
We are now seeing a dichotomy within the market. The applications for video communication are much easier to use, but the back-end integration of all systems has become more complex. As a company we focus on helping our customers navigate the quickly changing and evolving world of video communications.
What words or phrases would you use to describe i2i Technologies?
Wow. There are so many words I would use to describe this company. One is definitely family. I care about my employees as if they were family members. I also care deeply about our customers and see them as an extension of my family. Every interaction we have within our company is focused on having integrity and seeking success for others.
What do you like to do and how do you spend your time?
I love meeting new people. I get really excited about working with customers to help them solve problems that they might be having. As a numbers guy, it is exciting to me to be able to help a customer get the most value for the money that they spend and design the right solution for them. I also love troubleshooting; that has been my passion from the beginning when I ran the lab.
Any way to connect with nature is where you will find me… skiing, hiking, fishing, camping and really anything where I can connect with nature, preferably in the mountains.
I am also an avid gardener. I love to research the plants that I put in our yard. Each plant is added based on what its purpose is within the ecosystem. My wife, Misty, will confirm how much research goes into the plants in the yard.
A somewhat surprising thing that I am known for is my love of dancing. It’s a way for me to let my hair down and express myself…and it is a GREAT workout, too!