InfoComm Best Practices Compliance Project
Jul 12, 2011 3:40 PM, By Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., Executive Director and CEO, InfoComm International
Recently I have been thinking and writing about the AV and IT industries as they approach an integrated communications environment. The demand for our product and services is present, but we must transform our industry to one that is quality-focused and works from standards and best practices, or we will jeopardize our current and future business.
That future can be characterized as one of increased business opportunities that require us to adapt to new customer demands. InfoComm’s market research studies show a consistent growth in the size of the market, and we are realizing more income from service than sales. InfoComm’s standards and best practices all focus on the service side of the business—how we design and install systems. Additionally, organizations are also deploying our technology worldwide and are using it as a primary communication tool. AV has gone mainstream. Finally, because organizations are relying more on our technology, they are demanding interoperability and consistency between sites. With IT companies entering our industry, they bring with them a shared expectation their customers have—that our systems are reliable and have an uptime record that mirrors IT.
With those assumptions, InfoComm’s Board of Directors has identified a need to assist its members and the industry to adopt and apply industry best practices to the design and installation of information communications technology. It has heard from manufacturers that the application of industry best practices vs. company best practices is needed in order to produce reliable and replicable systems. It has also heard from clients that uniformity in practice is needed, especially in enterprise applications. Finally, it has heard from the designers and installers that without the ability to produce, troubleshoot, and maintain reliable systems, companies suffer from inefficiency and lowered profitability.
Over the last five years InfoComm has received the ANSI/ISO 17024 accreditation for its CTS, CTS-D, and CTS-I, and it also has become an ANSI Standards Development Organization. Traditionally our education department and the Professional Education and Training Committee have produced best practices in our curricula, and we also now have within the Department of Standards and Best Practices a full and complimentary effort to produce industry best practices. This later group has worked on BIM, green AV, STEP, and integrated building technologies, among other topics of interest. This is all to say we have, and are developing, the intellectual property the industry needs to emerge from a craft of individual practitioners to an industry based upon the collective knowledge of the best and brightest that work within it.
The InfoComm Board and the Certification Committee is in the processing of developing a program so that project owners can recognize those companies that build “industry best practice compliant systems.” InfoComm has, in the last 15 years, developed a body of knowledge and best practices applicable to this project that can serve as the basis. So far it has conveyed these to the industry through online and classroom instruction, publications, and the development of ANSI standards. These multiple sources compose for companies a full list of best practices, but the current format is not one that is easy to use as it takes cross-referencing and use of multiple documents to bring the information to bear on a project.
This means that we are going to self-regulate quality, and we are going to promote those who do so. System integrators and design consultants will be able to market their services as companies that have DIBPA’s on staff or on a project team, and that their work will be InfoComm Best Practices Compliant. Manufacturers will be able to rely on the design and integration of their products so that the system it sits within is as capable as their gear. And customers will get systems that are consistently built to industry standards no matter where they are in the world, and these systems will be more reliable because they are designed and installed to industry-wide best practices.