Embracing Change: Envisioning a Future Focused On Scalable Software Solutions

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NAME: Frank West
POSITION: Senior director of systems sales, Americas
COMPANY: QSC

Lindsey Adler: What are your short-and long-term goals in your post with QSC?
FW:
In the short term, I’d like to see QSC Systems continue a steady, methodical growth. Historically our business was built on amplification, but our largest growth is coming from our processor category with solutions like the Q-SYS platform and most recently, our new AV-to-USB Bridging solution. We are highly focused on training and support, with a recent rollout of in-person training as a complement to our existing online training on QSCtraining.com. Thankfully, our customers are realizing that QSC is not just an amplifier company anymore, but we are a true systems solutions provider.

In the long term, I’d like to see Q-SYS be recognized as the gold standard AV platform in the industry.

Adler: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
FW:
Internally, I would say it’s managing the growth and scaling up our internal resources to train, support, and manage our opportunities. Externally, it’s more about getting our customers to embrace change. Our industry is still heavily focused on selling individual, rack-based “island” systems that are heavily hardware based. We envision a future that is much lighter in hardware and more focused on scalable enterprise software solutions.

Adler: Where do you see your market heading?
FW:
I see our industry moving toward software-based solutions versus the hardware-based paradigm. When selling meeting spaces in the enterprise market, a centralized solution brings many advantages: It’s easier to deploy, scale, manage, and support. So whether you’re doing a large paging system, a medium-sized conference room, or even a huddle space, you could install a redundant pair of large media/control processors to distribute audio and video and monitor and control these sub systems. I see these systems being infinitely more scalable and able to deliver more simple and consistent user experiences. This is the same way IT has shifted their systems such as telephony from appliance hardware (islands) to software-centralized solutions.

Adler: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from QSC?
FW:
At InfoComm 2016, we introduced our AV-to-USB Bridging solution, which is really our first foray into video. During the past two years, we’ve focused our Q-SYS Platform development to the meeting space vertical (corporate, higher education, and government), so we will continue to develop hardware peripherals, software apps, and plugins to revolutionize this space. Back in 2006, QSC made the decision to use Intel-based processing for the new platform, which became Q-SYS. To date, we are the only manufacturer running at the software level. This makes it easier for us to add features and functionality, and Intel ensures that we always have stronger, better, faster hardware to work with. The Q-SYS platform will continue to evolve into a bigger, more powerful solution, as well as smaller and more economical ones.

Adler: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from what QSC has to offer?
FW:
I see a major shift in our industry where systems integration firms will look a lot more like IT VARs. Having the ability to design and commission at the software level is common today. In the near future, integrators will be creating their own plugins and using SNMP to monitor. A software-based platform will bring new features and functionality with every software release, and the ability to create control scripts for new third-party solutions enables an integrator to constantly enhance and improve upon an installed system. There is a tremendous opportunity to move the business from a hardware-based model to a SaaS model.

Lindsey M. Adler is editor of SCN. Follow her on Twitter @lindseymadler. [Editor’s Note—This Q&A was originally published in SCN.]

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