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Rising Tide

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This month two big, established heavyweights in the world of technology, IBM and Cisco, are featured in SCN for their forays into this systems integration industry-IBM for surveillance/security (page 44) and Cisco in the videoconferencing world (page 8). Both companies have a strong history and a wealth of resources. It speaks to the maturity and importance of the systems integration industry that these two dominators have invested such resources to markets that integrators have been well-versed in and have worked so hard to develop. Fortunately competitors in both those fields can accept the concept that "a rising tide lifts all the boats."

In much the same way that competing companies can all benefit from a rising tide, the members of various integrator associations can all benefit from the bout of in-fighting that has been going on this month. Leaders of InfoComm presented a case against the legislative practices of NSCA and CEDIA, and the accused parties came back with clarifications (page 12). As such, it became evident that all associations are working to provide its members with a sense of unity and representation in the legislature. Whether it's to stay ahead of a fellow organization or not, these associations are working diligently to provide members with certification and resources that make a difference.

For the members, it should be a transparent process. There's enough to keep track of when running a systems integration company without keeping up with the politics, but what is important to note are the abundance of benefits for members. From InfoComm's AV Week (page 10) to NSCA's House of Worship workshops (page 14), there's an abundance of perks from these trade associations that can make a difference to a company's bottom line.

With InfoComm seeking ANSI-ISO certification accreditation (page 16) for its Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certifications under ISO 17024, members would have the distinction of acceptance by a private, nonprofit organization that accredits other organizations to serve as third-party product, system, and personnel certifiers.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CEDIA, and NSCA have joined forces to form the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA) (page 14), which will serve as the foundation of a career-ready workforce for the electronic systems contracting industry.

Mixing it up in the Trenches this month (page 11), Kirsten Nelson found at the NSCA Fall Business Conference that in addition to videoconferencing, Cisco also has its hand in building automation.

In a feature on the future of the integration business by Harman's Paul Chavez (page 34), he predicts that 20 percent of projects will call for the design of customized physical environments and integral interface design. The other 80 percent of AV systems will be bought off the shelf. That means systems integrators need to better understand the interface of space, information, and the human mind. "Our goal will be to focus on optimizing humans working together," Chavez said.

In next month's SCN be on the lookout for our Top 50 Systems Integrators chart. A spot on the chart serves as a badge of distinction for an integrator, and it serves as a great resource to see where a company ranks year after year. Also, it doesn't hurt to check out the new competition coming up.

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