POV: Manufacturers Council Spotlight
Feb 1, 2005 12:00 PM,
By Lee Dodson
The ICIA Manufacturers Council is open to all manufacturer members of the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA) who are interested in volunteering some of their time to come together and work on projects and issues of common interest. While this may sound like a simple and relatively straightforward mission, it can be quite difficult to find common ground across the different market segments in the AV industry and even across competitors.
What issues, you might ask, are common to all manufacturers? Don’t we compete with one other? Yes, we are in some of the same market segments, and yes, some of us do compete in some areas. Yet there are many things we do have in common. We are all working in the same industry, and are subject to similar regulations; work with similar (often the same) dealers; participate in many of the same trade shows; create similar applications; and face similar threats on a large scale. What we find is that these issues range in scope and scale as a natural result of the diversity that creates so many manufacturers in our industry in the first place. Each manufacturer needs to solve some issues on its own as a part of creating the differences that make us unique. However, there are challenges we face as an industry that are best solved as a group. This is where the ICIA Manufacturers Council can play a big role.
All manufacturers in our industry have at least this in common: We need an environment that enables us to do business efficiently, and we want our association to serve our needs overall. As a council, we have begun to identify and develop remarkably beneficial projects that have value for all manufacturers and stand to make this industry an easier place in which to do business.
First and foremost, we all need to communicate to the association and enable the association to interact and communicate with us. As a group, we are able to present questions and concerns to the ICIA staff quickly for response or action. At the same time, ICIA’s cross-representational makeup provides us with unique insight into opinions and ongoing programs and ideas. Participating in this or any other ICIA council is also a great way to learn what is going on in the industry. We are able to work with other councils, which helps us identify problems and work together to resolve them.
We also work to identify and assemble resources that are useful for new and veteran manufacturers in our industry, such as sample contracts, legal document templates, case law references, import/export classifications, and similar items that are either hard to find or, when available, may not be relevant to our industry. In addition, we work with other councils to create and produce what we are calling Best Practices documents. These can range from primers on how to best work with the independent rep network, to information pertaining to the structure of independent programmers and their makeup, to key points that people in the rental and staging community would like us to consider for any product intended for their market. In short, we attempt to facilitate communications and create better working environments within our industry.
PROJECTS IN MOTION
We are working on some exciting projects currently. My favorite project to date is an effort to establish a common format for pricing data. Countless hours are spent by both manufacturers and dealers in a constant struggle to disseminate and stay current on pricing. By drafting a simple template to use for pricing, manufacturers can enable dealers to quickly and easily import pricing updates into their computer systems. Anyone who has been involved in this function will appreciate how much time and effort this will save. This is a perfect example of a project that no manufacturer or dealer could accomplish alone.
Another great project is our Best Practices agenda where development of documents is in full swing as we work with other councils to identify and simplify numerous aspects of how we work together. In addition, we are working on assembling a library of reference documents that any manufacturer in the AV industry will be able to access.
We are usually the same people who work with ICIA, go to trade shows, and are involved in solving problems for our respective companies. Many members are upper management of our companies and carry marketing-related titles or sales titles; some are in support roles; and some are even owners and presidents. We represent all aspects of the technologies that make up our industry, from audio systems, to projection and display, to controls and interfacing, and more. If you are in the AV industry, there is a home for you in the Manufacturers Council.
The best way to affect, change, or improve any situation is to get involved. Only through active participation of members of our industry will there even be an industry. The Manufacturers Council is in need of more participants and more representation from each of the segments of our industry.
There are many reasons to join ICIA councils. Most active members will quickly attest to the great learning and networking opportunities they have. Communication with the association is a great way to help create a connection with ICIA staff who are making decisions on a daily basis and also to help you understand what they are doing. Of course, “meaty” projects are what drive most people. With our current set of projects and a growing list of other great ideas just waiting for champions, there are many opportunities for people to contribute to our industry and benefit from the contributions of others.
HOW TO JOIN
Joining the council is simple—there is no cost or obligation once you have joined the association. Simply call or send Linda Keenan an email request at [email protected] and you can be added to the group. We meet twice a year, including once at InfoComm in June, and have audio conferences on a bi-monthly basis.
Lee Dodsonhas been in the AV industry for 20 years. He is V.P. of marketing for Extron Electronics and serves as chair of the ICIA Manufacturers Council.