As per Merriam Webster, the definition of a commodity is “a mass-produced unspecialized product.” While there are numerous applications requiring highly customized solutions, it is becoming clear that an effort is underway to commoditize audiovisual solutions. Many audiovisual solutions have certainly become "mass-produced unspecialized products" (I think I just offended every engineer in the audiovisual community) but now that I have your attention, let me explain.
End users are highly focused on demystifying audiovisual solutions. They want simpler solutions that are easier to procure, install, train, and support. Why? Scalability! AV systems have become a mission critical part of an organization’s collaboration plan, requiring them to build large numbers of huddle rooms, conference rooms, collaboration rooms, training rooms, and other meeting spaces in a condensed implementation schedule.
Manufacturers have responded to capitalize on this trend. Packaged room solutions provide a single sourced solution addressing standardized room configurations and applications. Combination hardware solutions like video switching/control and audio DSP/power amplifier solutions offer multiple system components in a single chassis. Quick configuration software (wizards) promote simplified standard configuration capabilities, thus reducing the amount of time to set up and develop complex custom code creation for each project.
What have you done? What can you do?
Can you mass-produce these unspecialized products? You will have to in order to survive or flourish in this new commoditized world. Look at how you currently do everything and make it less specialized. Define what is repeatable in your offering, develop those known working solutions, and deploy them with the least amount of unique work effort.
Set up a task force in your organization, have them define your firm’s standard offerings and create repeatable solutions. Collaboration from sales, engineering, implementation, and support is critical to success of this effort and will ensure you develop solutions that can be easily sold, implemented, and supported.
Once these repeatable solutions are created, tools can then be developed that simplify the sales effort required to propose and present these solutions to your customers. Scope of Work, Bill of Material, Schematics, and other engineering tasks can be streamlined and automated to support specification of these solutions. Standardized control and audio programs can be developed to optimize implementation time and reduce punch list items.
Leveraging repeatable solutions will optimize your labor costs for positioning, creating, implementing, and supporting these solutions. It will also drastically reduce your timelines to keep up with your customer’s compressed schedules. With all of this in place, customers will feel that they have truly demystified their AV solutions!
Tim Hennen is Senior Vice President at IVCi.This feature is part of SCN's "Hush Hush" October print issue.