POV: InfoComm on the Road
Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM,
By Matt Baehr, CTS
Since 2006, InfoComm International has been running a program of regional roundtables across North America. These roundtables are half-day programs that bring together members from all areas of the AV industry to discuss issues facing them and how InfoComm can help address those challenges. In the first half of 2008, InfoComm visited nine different cities and talked to more than 150 members.
There were several topics that were brought up in almost every city as challenges facing the industry. The first is the convergence of AV and IT. This has been a hot topic for a while now, and it is still an issue for many professionals across the country. Many members feel that IT personnel are not well versed in the AV world, which results in confusion when it comes to implementing AV projects that must use existing IT infrastructure. In addition, IT personnel feel that AV industry folks haven’t taken the necessary steps to learn more about IT to help gain their perspective.
Another large issue mentioned at most every roundtable was the challenge of workforce development. InfoComm members are frequently trying to find qualified workers because many of them have seen substantial increases in the number and scope of projects they are working on. Members were excited to hear that InfoComm is continuously working with universities, colleges, junior colleges, technical schools, and other educational institutions to help them create an AV program using InfoComm’s curriculum. Two recently launched programs include Madison Media Institute’s AV degree program and the AV degree program at Lone Star College, Montgomery.
Roundtable participants brought up several other issues. Many members have found that either clients have no knowledge of AV when they are first trying to find a solution or clients have a wealth of information, not all of it correct. This makes the job for the sales-person much more difficult. Also, members discussed how Internet pricing and the consumer market have driven product prices lower and lower. Some technology issues were also discussed, such as HD and the upcoming switch from analog to digital.
There were some subjects that differed by region. Some members are seeing the sales cycle for a project lengthening as the economy slows and companies are requiring more layers in the approval process. This is becoming problematic for integrators because technology is changing so fast that by the time a project goes forward, equipment that was specified for the installation is no longer available. Other regions are seeing customers who want installations to happen immediately. If a project gets the greenlight budget-wise, the client wants to get it done right away.
InfoComm has five more roundtables scheduled for 2008 in the following cities: New York; St. Louis; Nashville, Tenn.; Houston; and Austin, Texas. These are free events open to all InfoComm members. I hope you will join us as we strive to develop implementable solutions for the challenges our industry faces. A schedule for the remaining roundtables can be found at www.infocomm.org.
Matt Baehr, CTS, is director of membership development at InfoComm International. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.