SYMCO Panel: Q&A with Vantage Tech's Bob Kuhn

SYMCO Panel: Q&A with Vantage Tech's Bob Kuhn

Convergence, what have you done for me lately?

A lot, evidently, but quantifying it is the hard part. And from what I hear on the AV streets, even with all this fancy new IP-based everything, those IT people are still a challenge to contend with on the client side.So let’s get together and talk about it. Or “tawk” about it, in the local parlance, at the SYMCO Regional Technology Showcases in Boston, MA, and New York, NY, on October 14 and 16, respectively. But first, let's catch up with one of the panelists who will be joining me on the User Panel Discussion.

Bob Kuhn

Meet Bob Kuhn, Senior Consultant at Vantage Technology Consulting Group:

Some technologists are born, others are made. When did you know you were a tech-head?
Maybe I represent "and some have technology thrust upon 'em." I really became a technologist in graduate school when I needed the math department's VAX to be running, so I became its manager.What was the most surprising u-turn or detour you've seen occur in the technology landscape so far in your career?
The collapse of Nortel. For those not familiar, it was possibly the biggest name in telephony equipment. Nortel bought Bay Networks, the child of the union of Synoptics (the market leader in Ethernet Hubs) with Wellfleet Communications (a rising star in Ethernet switching), and was a leading player in enterprise and carrier telephony, as well as IP switching.

But something went very wrong. Perhaps it was cultural —with conservative "five nines" engineering-driven Nortel — combined with the marketing-driven Synoptics and the research-driven Wellfleet. In any case, on the telephony side, Nortel rushed to market with some products that just were not ready, and on the IP side innovation lagged. But few (and certainly not I) thought the company was in trouble, yet when the whole thing collapsed and the rubble was sold to Avaya.

What is most misunderstood about IT?
Depends if you are asking those within IT or those outside. On the inside, it is all too easy to become enamored of the latest shiny things and forget that the value of technology is how it serves the mission of the institution. For those outside, it is all too easy to underrate the importance of security when trying to expediently get the job done.

Why is FaceTime so much easier than videoconferencing? How do you explain that to users?
Facetime is a proprietary application for Mac and iOS devices — it's a single manufacturer for software and all hardware. By contrast, videoconferencing involves multiple hardware and software vendors and multiple possible protocols/codecs/standards/bandwidths — even the option of IP versus digital telephony for connectivity. I think it is more surprising that it works at all.

What's the most common request you get from your users?
Hands down it is password reset.

Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.