Open Mic: Land of Opportunity

Why the AV Users Group is expanding to Northern California
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According to AVIXA, the Bay area of California is now the biggest opportunity in the country for audiovisual technology sales – surpassing that even of New York.

For the AV User Group – a not for profit organization formed in 1996 to help AV end user professionals network and share best practice advice – expanding to the Golden State wasn’t so much a question of if, but when.

Ever since we launched in New York (2012) the demand for a group on the West Coast has never gone away. Next month (October 18th), after nearly a year of planning we will be inside Google’s San Jose headquarters to officially launch the AV User Group in the region. More information is available at avusergroup.com/events

As we go to press, membership for the AV User Group (in total) has smashed past 1,300 mark – double that compared to September last year. Of that figure, 350 of those (representing around 250 organizations) are from the Bay area.

Shure, Logitech, Biamp, AVIXA, QSC, and Barco are all sponsoring and presenting at the first event. Extron, Tripleplay, Silicon Core, Mersive, Evertz, Dolby, Atlona, Electrosonic, AVMI, Diversified & L3AV are all sponsors for the post event networking drinks.

The next schedule meeting (next Spring) is already booked (no venue announcement yet), with Crestron, Lightware, Sennheiser, NEC, Avocor and Avidex (local S.I.) all set to present. Systems/Panacast, Ashton Bentley & Starleaf.

By around 2020, the group hopes to be able to offer US members the same level of support (i.e accommodation) we offer to those in the UK, in attending major trade show events. In the UK, that support is provided to get members to ISE (Amsterdam, Barcelona 2021); our goal is to do the same for Infocomm (Orlando/Vegas).

Demand for the AV User Group is not however restricted to the US. In recent months, fueled by its sponsors and activities in the market (including partnering with AVIXA at ISE), requests from end users all over the world have been received. France (Paris), Australia (Sydney), Canada (Toronto), New Zealand are just some of the options.

However, our board of directors is keen to ensure that the value and reputation of the group is not tarnished by adopting a land grab rollout strategy. Expansion groups can follow the model of London in the early days, and may begin as simply networking opportunities amongst AV professionals, with potential sponsorship further down the like.

When I sat down with the original management committee, one of my personal desires was to make something like the AV User Group available to as many end users in our industry as possible around the world over a period of time. We’ve had some strong interest and it’s been exciting having discussions with the board about how go about that and grow the group further and scale up. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and conscious that we don’t want to water that down. We’re also keen to protect the reputation we have built, but equally we don’t want to make it difficult for new locations to get started by setting a ridiculous criteria. We’ve not got that nailed down yet, but we’re close.

We always thought it would be us charting the course and deciding where we should go geographically, but that’s been flipped on its side as people are reaching out to us. It’s a very exciting time to be connecting AV users with each other and with the technology that can help them succeed. And, it’s fun. Hope to see you in San Jose. Owen Ellis is approaching his first year as a full time employee as AV User Group chairman.

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