NAME: Bob Sharp
TITLE: Director of Sales Engineering
OVERTIME: Sharp’s began a career in AV in the U.K. as a photographer shooting and producing multi-media slide shows in the 1970s.
SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
Bob Sharp: As director of sales engineering for SVSi I am primarily responsible for supporting our manufacturer's reps efforts to evangelize and demonstrate our networked AV systems to pro AV integrators and technology consultants. An important function is to provide feedback to our engineering team as to features and functionality requests from our customers and additionally input as to our future product roadmap.
SCN: How long have you been at this position?
BS: Recently I've been spearheading our expansion into international markets, setting up distributors in the U.K., Germany, Israel, and Australia. Showing that our video-over-IP can provide the same visual quality as more conventional video distribution systems means that there is no substitute for setting up equipment in dealers’ offices and providing a real-world demonstration, which of course means a lot of travel!
SCN: How has your background prepared you for your new role?
BS: My career in AV goes back to the 1970s in the U.K. as a photographer shooting and producing multi-media slide shows (remember the Chief ‘stacker’ for Ektagraphic slide projectors?). In 1983 I moved to the U.S. and spent the next 17 years working for two manufacturers of slide and film animation cameras in sales, manufacturing, and design engineering roles. When the traditional film special effects and animation market was overtaken by computer-generated imagery I transitioned to a business development role for a manufacturer of high-end PC 3D computer animation and rendering graphics boards. I joined SVSi seven years ago when we were designing and manufacturing high-speed digital cameras and was instrumental in our decision to produce a pro AV video-over-IP system. We discontinued the camera products and the beginning of this year to solely concentrate on our networked AV systems.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?
BS: We’re a very fast-growing company so the short-term objective is to keep our integrators enthusiastic about our company and its products, service, and support. We can’t let growth affect the reputation we’ve built up for excellence not only in technology but also for the ‘human element’ of being a responsive and friendly company to deal with. Concurrently and moving forwards my objective is to continue expanding our overseas markets, which is very necessary to achieve our long-term revenue goals.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
BS: Undoubtedly the greatest challenge is to understand how to best convey the advantages of an IP system over traditional AV technology while embracing and respecting the unique value-add that AV professionals provide to their customers. Regardless of all of the discussion around AV/IT convergence, many AV professionals are still unsure as to the benefits of migrating to a fully networked AV platform—and when I say ‘fully’ we provide audio, video, control, network, and power over standard network infrastructure. There is also a big difference between deploying AV over a dedicated network and truly converging onto an enterprise network—the latter requires the knowledge to work with IT managers and technicians on an equal footing—knowledge which we as a ‘bridge’ company must provide our customers through appropriate training courses and technical literature.
SCN: Where do you see your market heading?
BS: We believe in the inevitability of 'everything on the network' and are dedicated to positioning ourselves as the leaders in networked AV technology for the pro AV market. This trend will require successful integrators to ensure that their engineering and technical staff are adequately educated and trained in networking technology. Their customers will expect this expertise as a necessary requirement to integrate AV with other systems on their networks.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from SVSi?
BS: Regarding our product roadmap we introduced a complete new suite of networked AV products at InfoComm this year that significantly expanded our market reach to all segments of audio-video distribution and switching. For next year we are committed to introducing an IP-based encoder/decoder platform for 4k/60Hz (UltraHD) distribution.
Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of SCN.