Collaborating Virtually and In Person at InfoComm

Jon Sidwick, Collabtech Group leader and chairman of AVIXA’s board of directors
Jon Sidwick, Collabtech Group leader and chairman of AVIXA’s board of directors (Image credit: AVIXA)

Jon Sidwick has been in the AV industry for more than 30 years, starting in retail and then moving to Sharp Electronics, where he moved through management positions and ended up running the pro AV business. In 1997 he moved to Maverick, then a small UK-based independent pro AV distributor. Sidwick led the acquisition of Maverick by Tech Data in 2007, which has enabled growth into 20 countries in Europe, North America and Australia, and created the world’s largest specialist AV distributor focused on traditional presentation, smart meetings and smart signage solutions. He now runs Collabtech Group, a global collaboration service provider.

Sidwick has served AVIXA in several capacities, including two years on the Leadership Search Committee and also as an officer on the board of directors; he’s currently serving as board chairman. Here at InfoComm, he will be presenting the AVIXA Membership Awards with AVIXA CEO David Labuskes on Thursday.

[ SCN Hall of Fame 2021: Jon Sidwick ]

We caught up with him to ask about modern collaboration technology and what trends he expects to see at this year’s InfoComm show.

With the pandemic and supply chain issues, these past two years have been challenging for commercial integrators. What are some of the ways AVIXA has helped them succeed?
AVIXA has always been focused on providing a deep level of support for all areas of the industry; however, there was no playbook about how to support our members with the onset of a global pandemic. The team had to act quickly and look at how to help both companies and individuals. Great examples include Sean Wargo’s regular market reports that give details on both the current and forecast impact of the pandemic and focused information on verticals such as the events industry. For individuals, AVIXA opened up our educational offerings to everyone at no charge. In addition to this, the virtualization of trade shows made them accessible to everybody, keeping people connected as an industry. That initiative had incredible support and enabled people to learn and communicate despite most working from home or not working at all.

What do you see as the most rewarding part of working on the AVIXA Board of Directors?
From a selfish point of view, it’s working with an incredible group of people on the board and staff. Every time we meet, I feel privileged to be able to contribute with such a great team. Then, looking at the industry as a whole, it’s very rewarding to be able to help guide and form the future of such an exciting business. I have been involved in AV for over 30 years, and I’m constantly surprised by how much opportunity we have. Being part of an association designed to help deliver on these opportunities is humbling.

Collaboration technology has been in the spotlight since the pandemic began. What collaboration tech are you looking forward to experiencing at InfoComm, and where do you see it going in the future?
The collaboration industry has taken a 10-year leap in a couple of years. It’s now part of every company’s DNA. Due to its integration with many aspects of AV, I am intrigued to see how traditional brands are creating solutions to extend the standard UC platform and deliver exceptional experiences through high-quality solutions.

As beneficial as remote collaboration can be, some things are still best done in person. What excites you the most about being on site at InfoComm this year?
I was lucky enough to attend ISE in Barcelona this year, and it was amazing to meet industry friends in person again. What I really noticed was those unplanned connections—the conversations at a booth or at the bar with someone new who you would never have met without being at the show. I anticipate InfoComm being a large-scale version of this. I know I will come away being able to point to a load of amazing conversations that just would not have happened without the physical show.

You are co-hosting the AVIXA Membership Awards with David Labuskes on Thursday. What qualities do the winning members represent?
Our industry is full of amazing people whose work literally changes people’s lives. Helping educate, inform, entertain, communicate and heal, our business is integral to almost every aspect of what we do. What makes our industry so good is that the people who are the best at delivering these solutions have a real focus on the quality of the experience and often a selfless dedication to not only delivering this, but also creating great products and great teams—and doing it with a massive amount of positive energy. 

This story originally appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 28, edition of the InfoComm 2021 Show Daily. Read more from the InfoComm Day Two Show Daily online.

For the latest show updates, visit our InfoComm 2021 hub.

Anthony Savona is vice president of content creation at Future U.S. He writes and edits stories for Systems Contractor News, Residential Systems, and TWICE, amongst others.