A good rule of thumb in hiring any type of service company: avoid the ones where the proprietor has paid to have his or her personal vehicle "wrapped" or otherwise defaced with "branding" material. I'm not talking about respectable-looking vans or a business name and phone number painted on a pickup truck door. Just look out for the ones that have obviously spent a pile of cash on a wrap. They're the ones who care more about image than knowledge.
Last month I had the pleasure of hiring a cutesy computer "technician" who deleted some of my applications and overwrote all of my backup music files on a whim, transferring them from one external FireWire drive to another based solely on the date the files were last modified. Needless to say, she lost some valuable data along the way.
These are the trunk-slammers of the IT world. They storm into our homes and offices, brazenly wielding their tetchy mouse-clicking fingers, hurling mouse pads out of their way, and deleting at will. They point and click quickly, creating the aura of expertise, and charge a premium for shortsighted service.
One way to defeat these threats to our data's integrity is a method many of us have encountered in the AV world: seek legitimate referrals before proceeding with extreme caution into any new technological or business venture. In the information age, anyone can pretend to know anything. The people you want to work with are those who possess a true understanding of their work and stand behind their services.
Alarmist diatribe aside, there is an illuminating subplot to my tale of music lost. For all the talk about how survival in the AV industry is dependent on learning the language of IT, let us step back for a moment and consider all the question marks that remain on their side of the fence. As SCN editor at large Dan Goldstein points out in his article on AV/IT convergence this month, IT personnel will be reliant on the expertise of the AV industry long into the foreseeable future. Sure, anyone can buy AV technology, but the nuances of making these technologies work together are a valuable asset possessed by the readers of this magazine.
Recent conversations I've had with manufacturers, contractors, and consultants have had a common thread. As these two worlds overlap on more projects, it is becoming apparent that there's plenty of trial and error in the world of IT. And fast-talking wizardry isn't going to cut it on either end. There will have to be a legitimate dialogue between these two camps for some time to come. Those who refuse the discourse in favor of standoffish, territorial tactics will be out of business and slinging coffee in no time.
I wonder how much it costs to have a truck wrap removed.