Along with our annual Top 50 Systems Integrators feature, we polled a selection of leading firms on industry topics.

SCN: What was the biggest business challenge of 2017, and how have you overcome it?

Kelly McCarthy, president, Genesis Integration
As we moved toward building a solid marketing strategy, we noticed that it can be challenging generating qualified sales and marketing leads, and we weren’t seeing high conversion rates. Since we signed on with an inbound marketing platform, we are continuing to see progress and are working to take full advantage of building campaigns within this platform that will provide us the tools to properly track and analyze. After speaking with other integrators, it appears this is a common marketing roadblock for many in the industry. We feel there is room to grow in this area and look forward to working with industry experts on how to take our marketing efforts to the next level.

Robert T. Gag, CEO, Tierney
Tierney moved into a new building at the very start of the year. We needed to complete the move and install a state-of-the-art open office space; meanwhile, we continued to support the increased demand of our services to our customer base. The office move allowed us to have everyone under one roof and to better support our customers and increase internal productivity.

Bin Guan, chief technology officer, Yorktel
There have been a number of challenges due to the rapid pace of growth, new innovations in the competitive landscape, and new applications in various vertical markets. We have invested in particular on integrating workflows into our healthcare video portfolio, as healthcare is a very different animal than the corporate enterprise environment. Also, as user experience becomes increasingly emphasized in the customer’s mind, we’ve looked to adjust our offerings to meet that demand. This includes things like one-button-to-push and better analytics, which ultimately allows the customer to not only see where their best video use is, but to adjust their own practices in order to improve their video investment ROI.

Dave Berlin, president, VCA
Margin erosion continues to present challenges that we are continuously working to evolve our business beyond. We need to adopt an AVaaS model for a certain segment of our design build business. Continued convergence of AV and IT means more competition from IT providers attempting to provide AV integration. Driving customer standards, technical thought leadership, and helping them plan appropriately for future rollouts have been a critical component of our customer delivery with excellence effort. Additionally, as decisions are coming out of IT, there is a trend of customers treating our unique trade as either IT distribution or sheetrock installation. The reality is that we create customer-centric experiences, environments, and workflows that change how clients communicate and collaborate. It’s not the commodity that an IT desktop experience is.

The other big challenge we’re focused on is creating a better customer experience. It’s not just about installing the best systems, but encouraging their use within the corporate culture. It’s not enough that we put in a system that is error-free and works to the highest standards; it’s about how we create the interfaces and offer the services that encourage people to use the technology to maximize their potential. We’ve been successful offering our training resources to drive usage. We also spent a fair amount of time this year establishing and rolling out global conference room standards across the enterprise.

Philip Giffard, president, Solotech
Obviously, as has been the case for some time already, digital signage and LED screens have shown a tremendous growth this year. The presence of these technologies in more and more markets means that the type of customers and constraints evolve and multiply as well. The key to success is innovation and technological expertise.

Rod Andrewson, chief technology officer and manager of support and quality assurance, CCS Presentation Systems
The biggest challenge has been well-trained human resources. The “captain obvious” answer is training, training, and more training in that area. And, of course, taking good care of our people with perks and salaries to match their value.