POV: What's in a Name?

In 1997, ICIA had the foresight to create the End Users Council to allow a growing number of noncommercial ICIA members to be represented within the organization.
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POV: What's in a Name?

Jun 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By John Pfleiderer

In 1997, ICIA had the foresight to create the End Users Council to allow a growing number of noncommercial ICIA members to be represented within the organization. At that time, membership of ICIA was predominantly commercial in nature and the recognition of the noncommercial membership segment as becoming a significant influence in such an organization was revolutionary. Over time, however, it became apparent that this segment of the industry was a true growing concern. It was a credit to the wisdom and insight of the ICIA leadership that it encouraged end-user involvement, a move that made the association more appealing to noncommercial members. ICIA leaders had made a commitment to offer educational benefits to the noncommercial membership in the form of its well-known “EduBucks” tuition discount program. The End Users Council became an active council in 1998 under the chairmanship of Joe Schuch, University of North Carolina.

End-users finally had a voice on the Board of Governors and were increasingly recognized as valued members of ICIA. Taking advantage of the educational offerings of ICIA was an important driving force for the end-user. End-users were becoming more involved in the planning and installation of AV systems because systems were being built on industrial and educational campuses in the late 1990s, and end-users needed education to better work with AV providers. For noncommercial members, the educational opportunities ICIA offers are a driving force, helping them to understand the more sophisticated and complex AV systems that are now the norm in many institutions.

Today, end-users are full-fledged participants in the AV industry — so much so that now we are in the position to influence product designs, act as beta testers, and participate in the planning and teaching of new educational offerings being created at ICIA.

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Looking to the future of this council, our members felt that the term “end user” did not fully portray our role in today's marketplace. So to better describe the true role we play within the consumer segment of the AV industry, the ICIA Board of Governors officially approved a change in the name of our council in December 2004 to the Technology Managers Council (TMC).

Our council mission is: To serve as the technology manager members' information source and as the platform for communicating end-user experiences within the association and the industry.

Our council goals are:

  • To develop partnerships with other councils to enhance professional relationships
  • To propose and promote education, training, and professional development for technology managers
  • To explore the effective deployment and utilization of AV technology.

The council's projects reflect these goals and mission statement by taking on practical projects that move the industry forward.

In some cases, the projects involve collaboration with other ICIA councils. For example, the Dashboard for Controls was seeded within our council and is currently chaired by TMC member Greg Bronson. The Dashboard for Controls project is a groundbreaking undertaking that is primarily concerned with the establishment of control panel design guidelines. Clearly this has become one of the more inclusive projects fostering cross-council activity, because control panel design affects manufacturers, consultants, integrators, independent programmers, and technology managers alike.

Another project that recently originated in our council is the creation of a tutorial-style presenter's guide. The guide will enable novice presenters to quickly understand basic setup, connection, and proper use of AV technologies, including some tips on content creation. The guide will also provide a knowledge base of commonly found AV connectors and hookup cables that the presenter might encounter during equipment setup. The guide will take a generic approach and could be provided as a supplement to more complete room system documentation sometimes found in a training room, classroom, or auditorium, or to complement temporary setups. The guide will be based on many “rules of thumb,” including best practices and procedures in the successful use of AV systems and equipment. We are working with the education department of ICIA to align the guide with principles established in the “Essentials for the AV Industry” online course.

Technology managers have also been asked to provide the “Owner's Representative” point of view in Audiovisual Best Practices: The Design and Integration Process for the AV and Construction Industries, a complete handbook of recommended procedures and processes in AV construction projects soon to be published by ICIA. This collaborative effort among representative members of ICIA's systems integrator, independent consultant, and technology manager members — who are all working on and helping to review the chapters of the handbook — is a remarkable project that will provide a much-needed benchmark for how to contract for, manage, and construct a small or large AV system installation.

Needless to say, the council is constantly active, and the new moniker provides for a progressive view of ourselves. Many of our members are folded into the new business models of converged AV and IT departments, but we generally still have to support and serve the true end users that are presenters, teachers, and corporate executives. We all work within institutions that support the deployment of a wide range of technology products and services in which ICIA members are involved.

The ICIA Technology Managers Council is an open council with more than 115 members. So if you find that your interest has been piqued, we would like to extend an invitation to all ICIA associate, student, or organizational members for whom we can provide a voice in the AV industry. You can see our new website at: www.infocomm.org/membership/CouncilsandCommittees.cfm. Once there, just click on Technology Managers/End Users.

John Pfleiderer,CTS-D, is employed at Cornell University and serves as chair of the Technology Managers Council.

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